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Readers’ Choice: Land Your Favorite Discarded to Divine Designer in 7x7

Last week we launched a reader’s choice contest that will land one designer from this year’s Discarded to Divine fashion showcase in a feature in an upcoming issue of 7x7.

This week, as the contest continues, we bring you background on six designers and design teams vying for the prize. Be sure to vote and check out their creations for this annual fundraiser, which challenges established and emerging designers to transform discarded clothing and textiles into one-of-a-kind apparel, accessories and items for the home in support of St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco and its programs fighting poverty, homelessness and domestic violence.

Hansine Goran
1.    Hansine Goran

Hansine Goran, a textile artist and president of Current Carpets, turned to the ideas of alchemy and transformation as she created a carpet triptych with sections that can be arranged individually or together for this year’s Discarded to Divine.

“The carpets were inspired by Discarded to Divine’s devotion to transformation, renewal and sustainability and are meant to serve as an icon for both the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco and Discarded to Divine’s commitment to the processes of change,” explains Goran, who has won twelve international Awards for Design Excellence.

With each piece representing a different stage in the alchemy process, Goran’s carpets  were made by repurposing excess wool that would have otherwise been thrown away after the completion of a custom carpet order.

Wesley Ito
2.    Wesley Ito

A walk through the de Young Museum inspired the short, flirty cocktail dress Wesley Ito created for this year’s St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco fundraising event. 

“I was inspired by art that was highly ornate from paintings to sculpture to furniture design. When looking through the discarded fabric, I came across an old table cloth. I instantly thought of the art I saw at the museum and knew that this was the fabric to use,” says Ito, a Hawaii native who moved to the City 11 years ago to pursue graphic design.

The resulting frock’s allover blue pattern takes on surprisingly modern sensibilities, thanks to Ito’s youthful silhouette and brightly-hued velvet waistband detail.

Melissa Panages
3.    Melissa Panages (aka Famous Melissa)

Computer chips may form a focal point for the garment Melissa Panages created for the show, but the San Francisco artist was greatly influenced by the past.

“The piece I made for the Discarded to Divine fashion show was inspired by both ancient cultures and ancient Hollywood glamour of the 30's and 40's,” says Panages, who saw a connection between the circuitry of the chips and ancient Mayan imagery.

A camisole featuring the high-tech cast-offs occupies the center of the garment, while golden fabric and curving seams add visual interest to this old-meets-new piece of wearable art.

Janice Paredes
4.    Janice Paredes

Inspiration for the belted coat Janice Paredes designed for Discarded to Divine 2011 came from her mother, Dorothy, a skilled sewer and avid recycler of textiles long before it was cool to do so.

“Dorothy was my first sewing and textiles teacher and an innovative recycler. She gave me an appreciation for fabrics and taught me to think of using secondhand garments as an opportunity to create something original,” explains Paredes, who is the Fashion Design Department Coordinator at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco. Prior to teaching, she worked in the Fashion industry for over 20 years and held design positions at Levi Strauss and Co. and Jessica McClintock.

A subdued grey top and menswear-driven details give way to a lower half livened by fringe and oversized houndstooth check appliqués. The shape and color combination take their cues from Paredes’ favorite decade: the 1960’s. 

Xiang Zang and Yoorium Kim
5. Xiang Zang and Yoorium Kim

Xiang Zang and Yoorium Kim teamed up to create their Aphrodite dress, whose fine gauge knit, nude tones and use of fabrics such as chiffon and cashmere come together in a modern, yet ethereal piece inspired by Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting.

“The fur collar with silk ribbon tied in the front is an accessorial piece of the dress and can be worn separately,” Xiang says.

The pair hope the design conveys a look that’s contemporary, but also invokes goddess qualities.

" 'Tough with the divine’ is the theme, why we create this piece of art…there is a divine that lives in everyone's heart. This is also the reason that prompted us to participate in this event,” says Xiang.

Jill Giordano and Brian Scheyer
6. Jill Giordano and Brian Scheyer

The design duo behind San Francisco label gr.dano turned to several unlikely materials for the hand-dyed coat they designed for Discarded to Divine, including a secondhand baby blanket and patterned cotton drapes. But transforming cast-off textiles into a stylish result was hardly the only challenge the designers faced. Pulling off the ombre technique used to create the gradient color effect was no small feat.

“We had to construct the whole garment in its entirety first, then dye it, which meant we had one shot to get it right,” says Scheyer, who also notes that the coat was inspired by the pair’s fog-filled daily morning drives across the Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito into the City.

Another special aspect of the design is its versatility. The collar can be worn in multiple ways, and the voluminous silhouette and accompanying belt can accommodate sizes 4 to 8.

Which is your favorite design? Cast your vote below.

Ready for the big event? Discarded to Divine, 6-10 p.m., April 28, 2011, at St. Mary's Cathedral, The Hall, 1111 Gough Street, SF. Tickets ($75 and up).