Designer Valerie Cousens. Photo Source~ Jon Evans hamiltonmagazine.com

Fashion designer Valerie Cousens wearing one of her redesign dresses made from a men’s sweater. Photo Source ~ Jon Evans hamiltonmagazine.com

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to one fabulous eco designer – Valerie Cousens (born in England now a resident of Hamilton, Ontario). Valerie was recently featured in Hamilton Magazine as one of eleven Hamiltonians who have reset their lives. They are called the Dream Team because they have left behind old careers and followed their passions, reinventing themselves. Valerie left behind office and retail life and refocused on the arts, eventually branching into fashion design. Hamilton Magazine columnist Michael Borrelli describes Valerie as a “rehabilitated number cruncher” who found fashion.

Valerie, who is also an environmentalist, Reiki practitioner, artist and volunteer, describes herself as a “fashion redesigner.” She creates one-of-a-kind, all-recycled, wearable art that is fashionable and affordable. Valerie believes in fashion with a purpose, community outreach and involving youth in her projects.You can find Valerie’s upcycled streetwear and accessories in shops around Hamilton or she will custom design for you.

I caught up with Valerie at the recent 10th annual RevWear Fashion Show held in Hamilton, Ontario. I was interested in meeting Valerie because I had been told about her secret upcycled wedding dress! I loved the show and couldn’t wait to see Valerie’s creation. I wasn’t disappointed and had the privilege of meeting Valerie after the show. I’ll describe her design through the pictures below.

Valerie, who has no formal fashion design training, found an outdated wedding gown in a second hand shop that would work for her design.

Left: the before picture of the wedding dress. Right: The bodice of the wedding dress is made of lace. Valerie updated the sleeves for a more contemporary look. Photo ~ Suzanne Steenkist

Left: the before picture of the wedding dress. Right: The bodice of the wedding dress is made of lace. Valerie updated the sleeves for a more contemporary look. Photo ~ Suzanne Steenkist

RevWear encourages designers to incorporate a message into their design. Valerie wants viewers of her creations to know that brides have options when it comes to choosing their wedding dress. They don’t have to buy from traditional suppliers or wear what everyone else is wearing. They do have design options that are unique and beautiful and eco friendly.

Each layer of poof was made from recycled men's white shirts, gathered and attached with buttons. Photo ~

Each layer of flounce was made from recycled men’s white shirts, gathered and attached with buttons. Photo ~ Suzanne Steenkist

At first Valerie's dress seemed traditional like most others. Source ~

At first Valerie’s dress seemed traditional like most others. Photo ~ Suzanne Steenkist

When model Monica Germaine stepped on to the runway we were all wondering how Valerie would show this dress. Valerie’s crew took turns unbuttoning each flounce from the dress (made from recycling men’s white cotton dress shirts) to reveal a printed message and an under layer of Valerie’s signature recycling of neckties.

Photo ~

The wedding dress after the flounces have been unbuttoned. Photo ~ Suzanne Steenkist

Instead of being influenced by culture, belief systems and convention, each flounce encouraged brides to imagine something different: a wedding dress that reflects the care of creation and unique design.

Design freedom is worth a spin! Photo ~

Design freedom is worth a spin! Photo ~ Suzanne Steenkist

Not only was the wedding dress unique but so were the accessories. The headpiece was handmade from paper – recycled sheet music to be precise!

The headpiece was created from recycled sheet music and the  from the collar of a men's shirt then studded with rhinestones. Photos ~

The headpiece was created by S.J. Salise from recycled sheet music and Valerie designed the choker from the collar of a men’s shirt and then studded it with rhinestones. Photos ~ Suzanne Steenkist

What a great show and imaginative wedding dress design by Valerie Cousens!

What a great show and imaginative wedding dress design by Valerie Cousens! Photo ~ Suzanne Steenkist

Valerie has created the company Green Dress Designs where you can see more of her upcycled design. Check her out on Facebook too! To contact Valerie call her at 905-522-7679 or email her at cousensv@yahoo.com.

Thanks Valerie! All the best! Jordin

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