Bride and Shroom: Magical Wedding Dress Made of $40 Fungus

Erin Smith, a sustainable artist, constructed the growable gown for her thesis.

ByABC News
March 6, 2015, 12:23 PM
Bride and Shroom: Magical Wedding Dress Made of $40 Fungus
Bride and Shroom: Magical Wedding Dress Made of $40 Fungus
Courtesy Erin Smith

— -- This money-conscious, eco-focused bride is taking shabby chic to a whole new level.

When Erin Smith, an artist whose work focuses on sustainability, waste, and the future of fabrication, was planning her wedding last year, it got her thinking about the exorbitant cost of bridal gowns that are usually only ever worn once.

So instead she decided to make one -- out of fungus -- growing it herself in only six days using $40 of material. Smith’s Growable Gown project was used for her thesis in New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program rather than for her to actually walk down the aisle in, although she says that certainly still could have been possible.

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“I didn't end up wearing the dress because unfortunately I ran out of time,” Smith told ABC News of her August wedding. “This particular dress was constructed and designed as an art piece. My hope had been to create a second version to wear at my own wedding, but predictably between graduating, wedding prep, and other design work I wasn't able to pull it together in time.”

The earthy gown was made out of agricultural waste materials she purchased from Ecovative Design. Clearly not your typical needle and thread, Smith used the tree mulch mixed with mushroom spores to grow mycelium, the thread-like fibers that hold mushrooms together, to successfully construct the wedding dress.

“The top was a corset style, and the skirt pieces layered over untreated burlap so that there was some movement,” she explained. “In terms of the durability of the dress, it's already common practice for many brides to have a dress that they walk down the aisle in, and another dress to dance in. I'd say that this dress will have no problem walking down the aisle and taking pictures, but depending on how enthusiastic a dancer you are, you may want to change first.”

Smith ended up wearing a $10 thrift store dress to her own wedding, which pleased her mom more than the original fungus plan for the big day.

“My mom wasn't heartbroken that the mycelium dress wasn't ready, but she wasn't going to stop me from wearing what I wanted to,” Smith recalled. “I have a long history of being interested in things she finds strange, so although she couldn't have guessed 'mycelium dress' she wasn't entirely unprepared. She's very supportive, if sometimes surprised by my art and design work.”

The fashionably elegant fungus dress hasn’t seen its last legs, or rather stems, just quite yet, however.

“A friend of mine getting married next year has expressed interest in wearing a mycelium dress, so hopefully there will still be a chance for it to walk down the aisle!,” Smith enthusiastically said.