Dress Down: Wild Women’s Dresses Made of Trash, Trees & More

State of Dress is part fashion, part art and part personal mission, an attempt to capture the essence of all fifty States in the US through a series of site-specific dress designs tailored to each location. Robin Barcus Slonina is the multi-disciplinary artist behind this project and the star of an upcoming documentary of her travels and work.

state dress ny nevada

Some, like the New York City garbage bag dress, are intentionally humorous, referencing absurd couture mixed as well as ubiquitous street-side trash bags. Others, like the Nevada casino chip gown, are plays on local pastimes – in this case: the gaming and gambling cultures for which the state is most well-known.

state dress grass leaves

state dress pine cones

While artificial materials make up some of the dresses, others are constructed from local organic elements, like Iowa’s prairie dress and Minnesota’s corn dress, each set in (and seeming to spring up from) an apt natural landscape.

state dress natural materials

state dress willow wyoming

Other states with lots of nature likewise ended up with environmental materials, from willows in Wyoming to pine cones in Maine and pine trees in Wisconsin.

state garbage dress design

The creation of each piece of apparel comes with its own story. Here is a bit more from the artist about the making of the NYC trash bag dress: “The first time I ever visited New York as a young artist was during a massive garbage strike, and it left a lasting impression on me to see mountains of garbage piled so high on busy city sidewalks. To me, the sanitation workers that mange these tiny mountains every week are the true heroes of the city.”

state nyc trash bags

“However, by no means did I mean any disrespect or want to create something ugly for this metropolis of art, beauty and fashion. I therefore strived to create a jet-black, fashionable New York dress, that just happened to be made from garbage bags. To me, this piece represents all the dramatic contrasts inherent to New York: wealth and poverty, art and homelessness – beauty and trash. To fill the bags, I used another New York icon – crumpled-up New York Times newspapers.”