Curb Couture Trashion Show — Designer Spotlight on Bruce Bui



Last year, against a backdrop of loading docks in the industrial portion of Broad Avenue, the ordinary became extraordinary as plastic bags, old furniture, and even potato sacks were transformed into completely wearable garments and accessories. Winning Curb Couture Trashion Show's Best of Show prize was a dramatic gown weaved from dry cleaning bags and blue newspaper sleeves by Bruce Bui, costume designer for Ballet Memphis.


"The work was outrageously creative," says Eldra Tarpley White, executive director of Memphis City Beautiful, which puts on the Curb Couture Trashion Show. The show, being held Sunday at the Overton Square parking garage, is a fund-raiser to benefit beautification projects around the community and raise awareness about waste reduction.

Bruce has been invited back to participate in the "Green Finale," along with Ballet Memphis, New Ballet Ensemble, Opera Memphis, and Theatre Memphis. The Green Finale — everything is green — is new this year and is sure to be a theatrical display.

Now in its third year, the Curb Couture Trashion Show exposes beauty in the ordinary — coffee filters, plastic bottles, and various other ordinary materials you'd expect to see by the curb. Over 40 designers will be showing their wearable works of art this Sunday.

Projects like Curb Couture help designers like Bruce experiment. "I'm drawn to work where there is heightened meaning," he says about creating one-of-a-kind pieces.

After months of gathering plastic milk and green soda bottles for this year’s show, Bruce has painstakingly hand cut the bottles into hundreds of circles. "Oversized sequins," he says. His approach is to reinterpret the material as something unrecognizable from its original form.

"They'll catch the light beautifully," he says while his friend and acting colleague Savannah Bearden shows off the nearly completed gown during a fitting. After three weeks of work, the gown just needs a few more additions of leftover plastic to add volume and texture to the almost 3-foot train. For Savannah, this dress continues to confirm Bruce’s skill in creating what she describes as “timeless yet funky” designs.


For contest judging, garments receive points on first impression/the “wow factor,” creativity/originality, quality of workmanship, and the use of materials. Both Bruce and Eldra agree that the true excitement in the show is just seeing how far the designers have stretched their imagination.

“I really have no idea what anyone else is working on, so I’m looking forward to finding out and seeing the creativity,” says Bruce.


Curb Couture Trashion Show, Sunday, September 28th at Overton Square Garage, First level.
6-8 pm with a silent auction starting at 5:30pm
Food and drinks are included.

Event tickets are $50 each and are available by calling the Memphis City Beautiful office at 522-1135, online, or at the event.

Buy online tickets here. Available until the day of the event.

On Facebook Event Link

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