Rachel Mace creates trash couture, repurposing the discarded into gorgeous wares – beautiful and unique like the women who wear them.
“It’s important for women to feel beautiful,” she said.
Mace gets close to women with sharp tools and a hot glue gun, forming trash to their curves.
Mace, 21, was born in Spokane. At Lewis and Clark High School, she drifted in and out of social circles.
“I was awkward and I wore unfortunate things,” she said.
In her senior year, she lost 6 pounds when she cut her midthigh length hair. At 17, she got her first modeling job and has modeled on a freelance basis ever since.
Very involved in the creative process, she dressed herself in a trash bag for a high-fashion shoot. About a year ago, Mace got a call from local designer and runway producer Ronnie Ryno who had caught wind of the trash bag dress.
“She asked me to create 10 pieces for a runway show,” Mace said. “I thought ‘heck, why not?’ ”
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since then – fashion collections, photo shoots and runway shows. In September, Mace will fly to Chicago on a client’s dime to supply her designs for a photo shoot.
Her tools of the trade include an arsenal of adhesives, pennies, tissue paper, pages from old books, pieces of mirrors and broken jewelry, chicken wire, plastic bags, pop tabs, and plastic wrap initially formed on a mannequin and then finished on a live model.
She also modifies and embellishes shoes to match the outfits. Fairly sturdy, her creations can be worn more than once but she is working on a new line that will be even more durable that will entail fusing cellophane and tissue paper with a hot iron.
Mace’s goals are to be published nationally and to inspire women to embrace their beauty inside and out. Her motivation began some years ago as she watched a close friend get “sucked under the black waters of an eating disorder” and lose all sense of her own beauty and self-worth.
Her friend loved fashion and, to honor her, Mace has taken fashion beyond its purpose, repurposing it with the wearer in mind, urging her to embrace her perceived flaws and face the world with a smile and a wink in a gown of trash.
“I don’t care about the colors for fall, I care about the way the colors of the swirls of paper around the models make their eyes brighter,” Mace said.
“My creativity is a gift to them, for being who they are. I use whatever I have on hand and it feels right that way. It is not a premeditated act, it is spontaneous epiphany. The materials I use make sense to me, and I feel freed up by the fact that there is no ‘right’ way to do things. My fashion is making an art of beautiful.”