The New Mexican

Campaign couture: Recycle Runway owner to show off Obama fashions at inaugural ball

The New Mexican January 3, 2009

By Dennis J. Carroll
January 03, 2009

Nancy Judd, Santa Fe’s Dumpster fashionista, will be strutting her environmentally correct ensembles made from recycled materials — from crushed glass and audio cassette tapes to soda tabs and campaign signs — Jan. 17 at The Green Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C.

Judd, 40, owner of Recycle Runway, also has been invited to the inaugural party hosted by New Mexico’s congressional delegation on Jan. 19, the night before the Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration.

Green Ball producers said “every facet of The Green Ball is designed to reduce the impact on the environment.” Catering will be 100 percent organic, and the bars will feature local and organic beverages. Food waste and floral arrangements will be composted and bottles will be recycled. Lighting systems and decorative features have been designed to be energy efficient.

The event is expected to be attended by about 1,000 individuals and representatives of environmental organizations. The ball will be held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

Judd, a former waste-management manager for the city of Santa Fe, is sewing, gluing and stapling 24/7 to complete what she calls her Campaign for Change Couture Collection to be showcased at the event.

The outfits — “you just can’t sit down” — include a 1950s-style cocktail dress made from Obama yard signs, a man’s winter coat covered with paper campaign door hangers, a woman’s “swing” coat stitched together using voter-registration materials and a ball gown made from campaign posters.

The man’s coat “is essentially the feeling of the campaign,” Judd said, featuring many of the people who supported Obama and worked on the campaign.

Judd said it took about 200 hours to make the coat and 25 hours for the dress.

What probably won’t be noticed is a humorous jab at Republicans — a photo of John McCain under the coat’s right armpit.

Judd said live models will be showing off the pieces on pedestals set up in the lobby entrance to the Mellon Auditorium.

Jenna Mack, one of the ball’s producers, described Judd’s collection as “beyond fabulous,” and said Judd was invited to the ball because her work fit so well with the theme of the ball and many of the president-elect’s expected environmental and conservation policies.

She said Judd’s work “makes a statement to remind people” of the necessity of recycling and conservation and “gets the dialogue started” among people who view Judd’s creations.

Judd also expects to be conducting conservation workshops at Washington, D.C.-area schools.

Judd said that the day after the Nov. 4 election she went campaign Dumpster diving in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, retrieving such items as posters, yard signs and even original artwork done for the Obama campaign.

To finance her trip, Judd hopes to raise about $25,000 from corporate sponsors and through the sale of Obama tote bags, $50 each, made from recycled yard signs.

Judd also has been using Santa Fe’s WESST Corp. to help her organize the project, and Southwest Creations to make the tote bags.

Many of Judd’s outfits are on a road tour of sorts at airports around the country.

“Elegant garments created from recycled materials are exhibited in high-traffic airports to grab travelers’ attention and inspire personal action,” Judd says on her Web site, She also conducts environment and recycling workshops for children in the cities where her airport fashion runways are on display.

Recycle Runway also has drummed up sponsors as diverse as Toyota, Coca-Cola and the Glass Packaging Institute.

The airport displays include a faux-fur jacket made of with thousands of loops of cassette and video tape; a dress train made of origami junk-mail fans, sewn together like fish scales; and an evening gown glittering with thousands of pieces of crushed recycled glass.

Judd’s creations have been on display at the Pittsburgh International Airport since August.

Her first airport show was at the Albuquerque International Sunport in October 2007.

Judd’s outfits combine elements of art, fashion and politics (she was a volunteer for the Obama campaign).

“I don’t make them to resell them. I don’t make them to mass produce them. They are wearable sculptures. That’s how I look at it. I don’t have fashion background.”

Judd started Recycled Runway seven years ago while working as the recycling coordinator for the city of Santa Fe. She was subsequently executive director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition.

Read article on New Mexican website