There is a reason artist Lonnie Hanzon is called a wizard — his creations challenge the mind and delight the senses. His latest endeavor, Denver’s inaugural Trash Fashion Show, was equally imaginative and impactful. Held at EXDO Event Center as a benefit for the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, the event mirrored The Center’s ability to take society’s discards and transform them into beautiful works of art. “I do a lot of public work, and everything I do is story-based, so hopefully [the show] puts out an interesting message that’s positive and teaches people who don’t know about all of the programs at The Center,” said Hanzon.

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In addition to raising money for The Center, Hanzon’s show was dedicated to spreading awareness of global waste through the art of recycling, up-cycling and DIY. According to an article by NPR, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded. Although the slow fashion movement is picking up speed, it hasn’t stalled the fashion industry’s habits yet. “It’s incredible — the amount of stuff that we go through on a daily basis,” said Hanzon. “Fast fashion isn’t meant to last very long, so they throw away metric tons. They shred it all so it doesn’t go in the market, it’s just landfill.”

READ: The Rise of Slow Fashion in Denver

Trash Fashion Show designers used cans, bottles, cardboard and even VHS tapes and horse feed sacks to create looks that were often entirely made out of recycled materials. It forced many out of their comfort zones, although some of the designers, like Monica Rocha, were right at home. “I like tinkering with the unexpected,” said Rocha. “I’m excited for my girls to shine. It’s about them and the dresses and how beautiful they are.” Rocha used Swedish Fish wrappers, Red Bull cans, playing cards and Target bags for her looks. She even got a job at Sephora so she could make a black and white gown for the show.

Hanzon and his team also selected some of the city’s most provocative performers to light up the stage in between fashion segments. Denver drag superstar, Dixie Krystals, hosted the event; vivacious burlesque legend, Vivian VaVoom, embodied the light-hearted whimsy of the show; and boylesque dancer, Indy Fire, left the crowd slack-jawed following an electric number.

READ: 303 Style Profile – A Look Inside Burlesque Dancer Vivienne VaVoom’s Closet

Although the performances were impressive, the collaborative energy that filled the space was the most impactful. Designers, hair stylists, makeup artists and creative visionaries all selflessly donated their time to create a memorable night. The result was gorgeous — a truly stunning display of Denver’s style, talent and dedication to the betterment of the community.

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Photography by Rebecca Grant