One man's trash is another man's treasure — and what's fished out of a Dumpster today might fetch big bucks tomorrow at a fancy boutique. Face it: We're living in the age of bubble-wrap lingerie.
Every year, you can find thrill-seeking high school seniors who fashion their tuxedos and prom gowns from duct tape. They get their names in the paper and prove, once again that duct-tape works wonders on just about anything.
Duct-Tape Fashion Scholarships
Sticky prom fashions have become such a national trend that Duck brand duct tape last week honored Emily Ewald and Mike Mace of Rochelle Township High School in Illinois for attending their senior prom "ducted out" as 16th-century English nobles.
Lady Emily fashioned a red and yellow duct-tape gown with red cape, while Sir Mike was adorned in black knickers and vest with matching red and yellow puffed-sleeve jacket and cap to reign over their high school kingdom. They each won $2,500 scholarships, beating out 572 other couples.
But it's not just crazy kids who are putting the "garb" into garbage. Take a look at some fancy boutiques and you might find your old tablecloth is now a sports jacket.
Two Dutch sisters are stretching extra life into old rubber tires by cutting them up into dresses, pants, hats, ties and even rubber bras.
Designers Christa and Krijnie De Leeuw Van Weenen admit their rubber outfits tend to fade in the sunlight, but you can swim in them quite nicely.
Don't think for a second that these elastic duds are cheap retreads. A fancy top can cost more than $650, and they've shown up in trendy boutiques all over the world.
Here's another fashion that's popping up on the Internet: bubble-wrap lingerie.
Yes, bubble wrap, that air-cushioned plastic packing material, has now made it to Paris, London and Milan.
I can accept that there are ladies who will fork over $40 for a bubble-wear kimono from London's trendy Ibizawear. I find it even easier to believe that there are guys who want their gals to wear such outfits. They were the kids at Christmas who preferred the box more than the toy inside.
I have only one question: How are these bubble-wrap outfits packed? When we open the box, how do you know what to throw out and what to wear?
"Our customers don't have a problem," said Beverly Randolph of Bubble Body Wear, which makes dresses, bras, jackets, lingerie and even a $250 wedding dress from bubble wrap.
When Garbage Rules the Runways
Philadelphia University requires design students to fashion outfits from garbage — including Hefty bags, old cassette cases, Astroturf and cardboard — for its annual Design X fashion show.
"You take the ordinary and you make the extraordinary, that's what we're asking design students to do," said school spokesman Chris Clark.
"Bubble wrap is a popular material at these shows," he said. "What could be more 'pop' culture than bubble wrap?"
At the renowned Parsons School of Design in New York, duct tap ruled the runways in a show last April, as students presented formalwear, beach outfits and surreal costumes in a show entirely devoted to duct tape, which is now conveniently available in a rainbow of colors.
Today's students have definitely been influenced by garbage fashion.
A little more than a year ago, 17-year-old Sarah Blacketer of Rockwell, Texas, rummaged through her daddy's workshop to construct an all-metal "hardwear" dress from mesh screening, safety wire and an assortment of wing nuts, bolts, screws and scraps.
In years past, a parent would just assume the youngster was cobbling together a last-minute Halloween costume.
Actually, Blacketer had her sights set on making a big splash in fashion. The 2001 valedictorian of Rockwell High School won honors in a Texas statewide student art competition for her all-metal dress. She's now studying at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.
"I think the art is finding fashion in everyday objects," says Blacketer.
The young designer used screening for the skirt and bustier, with the wire "scrunched" to achieve a gathered look. The metal rings from spiral notebooks served as trim, with lock washers and wing nuts creating a sequined effect that would surely spin the Tin Man's rivets.
Interestingly, while Rockwell High School officials hailed her innovative design, they were none too pleased when she dyed her hair shocking pink to match her own prom dress. Nevertheless, classmates voted her "Most Likely to Succeed."
Why didn't she wear her metal outfit to prom? She said, "I was onto something else."
Larry Hagman’s Gem of a Gallstone
If you're looking for the ultimate in recycled fashion, you might turn to actor Larry Hagman, who has one gem of a gallstone.
After having several gallstones removed several years ago along with a liver transplant, TV's J.R. Ewing sent them to New York conceptual artist Barton Benees, who made one stone into a ring.
Now, we don't even have to discard old body parts!
Benes is a master collector of celebrity garbage. He has one of Adolf Hitler's spoons, a throat lozenge that President Clinton spat into an ashtray, and a pencil Geraldo Rivera chewed on. Some of these objects come with documentation, he says, others come from "very reliable sources."
"Garbage is very rich working material for an artist or designer," Benes said.
"You show me what a person throws out and I will tell you about that person," he said. "It only makes sense that our garbage would live on in clothing and jewelry."
Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.