Weaving glass into the fashion scene
Cotton. Leather. Silk. Denim. Glass. Which one does not belong?
While it may not be the most obvious material when it comes to fashion, glass artists across the globe are proving that the versatile material has a role in the fashion world through a now well-known and popular Glass Fashion Show event.
Inspired and first organized by Laura Donefer in 1989, the event has popped up intermittently at glass artist events throughout the world – most recently making an appearance as part of the 45th annual Glass Art Society Conference, held in Corning, New York in June 2016.
“I am a glass artist—and not at all trained in fashion,” Donefer said. “In my wildest dreams, I never expected anything like this to take over my life.”
For the artists involved, she said, it is an opportunity to create something spectacular to wear from a material that is not normally used on the body.
“Being involved in the Glass Fashion Show stretches their creativity and their imaginations, and the end result is nothing short of awe-inspiring!”
While Donefer may have taken glass fashion to the next level, the idea of incorporating glass as a fashion statement has been around for centuries. Introduced into society as early as the second millennium B.C., glass beads were used for ornamentation purposes during everyday life as well as in Egyptian burial ceremonies.
Symbolizing wealth, power, or certain stages in the life cycle, glass has seen its fair share of applications across cultures. Appearing in the 1920s as part of women’s dress wear, glass is even still considered a hot button in fashion when announced as an essential part of Google Glasses – faux pas or not as some may argue.
Regardless of the purpose behind incorporating glass into the fashion industry, the thought alone of using what some may consider a rigid, stiff material sets the scene for a very eye-opening feat. Donefer, now fondly known as the “Diva of Glass Fashion,” works collaboratively with glass artists to bring a show to life, planning far in advance of a show to guarantee artists have the time necessary to bring their masterpieces to life.
“Some of the costumes are very elaborate with thousands of pieces,” Donefer said. “We have ones that glow in the dark and ones that are lit up. Every type of glass is represented: recycled, flameworked, blown, kiln-worked, and combinations of them all. There’s usually at least one neon costume. Some are extremely heavy, weighing more than 50 pounds. One year, a costume was built on wheels and we had to roll her up and down a ramp to get on the stage.”
Although not an event spectators may be able to look forward to attending each year, the show proves yet again the immense and limitless possibilities of glass. Whether protecting your mobile device or acting as the finishing touch to a fabulous outfit, glass continues to amaze us.
Photo Credit: Kim Thompson, Corning Museum of Glass