It was only a month ago when the five finalists for Artscape’s second annual fashion design competition showcased their eco-friendly designs.
Models walked down the runway in garments made from newspapers, lampshades, garbage bags, and even crushed CDs. The four fashion inclined judges declared Karen Garalde as the winner of 2010 Artscape contest.
“I was thrilled and of course proud to be a part of the fashion competition, Garalde said. “At the time I submitted my round one dress, I was mainly focusing on creating and designing jewelry. I was happy to get more time using my creative juices for sewing.”
Before the Artscape winner made Baltimore fashion history, she studied fashion design in the Philippines and she had an apprenticeship under Filipino couturier Oskar Peralta.
Using her sewing skills to create wearable clothing was nothing new to Garalde. On the other hand, using unconventional materials was something new to the Kala Kai designer. Within a few weeks, she created a five-piece collection of skirts, tops, and dresses inspired by a childhood memory of a Disney tale.
“One of my all-time favorites as a child was the Disney movie “Summer Magic”, Garalde said. “There was a scene in which two female cousins were teaching a family friend to look and dress femininely. One of the cousins decides to upcycles the girl’s homely dress into a beautiful modern creation. My Artscape collection is the modern way to express that femininity.”
At first, the Baltimore designer thought it would be hard to transform her inspiration into something tangible. But, she overcame her obstacles by pushing herself to another level for this competition.
“It’s not easy to make something pretty out of what we would usually toss aside,” Garalde said. “I really wanted to embrace the recycling and natural ‘green’ aspects of the theme. I went for it all the way using various synthetic recycled material as well as natural organics while limiting my use of any traditional fabrics.”
The first garment she made for her Artscape collection was the paper dress. It took 40 hours of painting phone book pages, pleating paper, sewing paper with golden thread, and shaping fashion magazine pages into fans to create it.
“I wanted it to be elegant so I spent time playing around with different ideas and patterns,” Garalde said. “The dress was not only created in the theme of non-traditional fabric, but it’s also very Baltimore inspired.”
Garalde’s unforgettable Artscape collection is considered an exhibition of wearable art and a representation of the talented designers in Baltimore. In November 2010, she will be a part of a fashion show fundraiser to benefit the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Besides that, this Baltimore fashion and jewelry designer always has one ultimate goal.
“My energy is going towards growing my online business, www.kalaikai.com, and getting my creations in more local or regional boutiques,” Garalde said. “My long term goal is I’d love to have my own Baltimore-based boutique of course.”