|Local designer’s re-fashioned gowns to be featured|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
ShareFor many underprivileged young women, The Ruby Room in Seattle is a godsend.
The nonprofit organization, which opened its doors in 2002, was founded on the belief that everyone should be able to attend their high school events, regardless of their ability to pay.
Throughout the year, volunteers collect donated dresses and accessories and then make them available in the spring to high school girls who are unable to purchase their own dance attire.
This is the tenth anniversary for the Seattle chapter of the organization, which has helped thousands of teens make prom memories.
Last year, it gave away 450 gowns and staffers anticipate another busy season this year.
To sustain itself, The Ruby Room holds an annual major fundraiser in October. It’s a fashion show and benefit auction where local designers create one-of-a-kind gowns from unwearable donations.
The dresses are then auctioned off live at the event.
Among the six designers for this year’s show is Tina Witherspoon of glam.spoon.
This is the second year the Mill Creek woman has participated in the event.
“I was approached last year, as they were looking for new designers and somehow found out about me,” says Witherspoon. “I immediately said ‘yes’ because I love giving back to the community. The charitable component is very important to me and I feel honored to be invited to do it again this year.”
The local woman has been a designer for six years. She specializes in making dresses and skirts out of recycled materials and describes her work as “bohemian romantic” in style.
Witherspoon has never really had any formal training in the field of fashion and design.
“My mom taught me home economics/creative arts when I was a young girl,” she explains. “She taught me how to sew and she introduced me to thrift stores. I remember getting one of my prom dresses from a thrift store because we just didn’t have a lot of money back then to buy one of those expensive new formals. I learned that thrift stores were full of wonderful treasures.”
After working in the theater and music industry for a number of years, Witherspoon began designing clothes, first for herself and then for others.
“I’ve always been a bit of a clotheshorse,” she admits. “I realized I had lots of dresses in my closet that I didn’t wear so I started going through everything. Some I gave away, but then others I refashioned using different pieces from various dresses.”
Eventually, Witherspoon sold some of her creations at a crafts fair, which initially surprised her as she didn’t think people would want to buy them.
Her business took off and soon her dresses were being sold in various boutiques around Seattle.
Today, they are only available exclusively at the Frock Shop.
“Designing clothes has become another creative endeavor for me,” comments Witherspoon. “I enjoy the artistic process and seeing how everything evolves.”
The local woman doesn’t sketch or plan her designs in advance. She has ideas in her head and gets inspiration from materials.
“I’m a bit different when it comes to my methods,” she says, “because I’m just not a planner. But, it’s the way it works for me.”
For the upcoming Ruby Room fashion show, Witherspoon will have six gowns on display. Though each will be unique in style and length, all will share the same color scheme — blue and silver.
Those who are familiar with Witherspoon’s work will immediately recognize her gowns because her signature style is very evident.
“I incorporate hand-pleated ruffles in my dresses,” she explains. People who’ve seen my stuff before will be able to spot them right away.”
Last year, Witherspoon’s six pieces went for a total of $1,500, with one of the gowns raising $350 alone.
“It was so exciting,” she says. “It felt like I was on a game show. And it was wonderful that the dresses raised that much money. It made me feel good that I was able to help The Ruby Room. It’s a very worthwhile organization.”
For more information about The Ruby Room and its upcoming October 13 “Fashion Faux Pas to Fashion Fabulous” Fashion Show and Benefit Auction: www.rubyroomseattle.org.