Ingenuity, recycling featured at fashion fundraiser

  • Fashion designer Cassandra Holden of Northampton creates a gown from New City Brewery labels and bottle caps Saturday at her Cottage Street studio in Easthampton. The upcycled gown will be featured during STRUT, a fashion show holiday fundraiser for Easthampton City Arts. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

Published: 12/6/2016 9:30:28 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Origami started as just a hobby for Autumn Phaneuf, a 24-year-old mathematics and engineering student at Hampshire College. Now, she said, it’s her passion.

She studies and researches origami engineering. She said the Japanese art of paper folding can be used in architectural structures as well as practical objects that apply to everyday life — from heart stents to pop-up camping tents.

“It’s not just folding something out of paper,” Phaneuf said, and studying the engineering of origami has only added to Phaneuf’s creativity.

For the STRUT runway fashion event on Thursday at Eastworks, Phaneuf has collaborated with Easthampton fashion designer Cassandra Holden to create a gown completely out of paper origami.

Phaneuf said triangle, dodecagon and other geometric shapes are interlocked, glued, sewn and stapled to form her gown for the event. The skirt alone has over 500 pieces and took four people, including Phaneuf, five and a half hours to fold.

STRUT is a reboot of Easthampton’s annual “Light Up The Arts” holiday party, a fundraiser for Easthampton City Arts+.

Holden, who is on the planning committee for the event, said ECA+ has held the annual event for over a decade, and brings in $10,000 to $12,000 every year.

The event is usually held at the old town hall, but this year, Holden said, ECA+ wants to hold a larger event to increase funds, ultimately providing more support to local artists.

“We wanted to do something bigger and better,” Holden said about this year’s runway event.

Over 75 pieces are planned to be showcased, including work from a variety of local artists and ready-to-wear collections from retailers.

Holden will showcase eight designs. Some of the elaborate pieces include a gown she created in partnership with New City Brewery made from bottle caps and ginger beer labels. Another is a suit made out of reusable shopping bags a Whole Foods Market representative will wear down the catwalk.

Grammy-nominated musician Seth Glier will host and will have several performances throughout the evening, Holden said. Choreographer Michelle Marroquin will perform a dance as well.

The STRUT runway fashion event is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Eastworks Ballroom, 116 Pleasant St. Tickets are $20 at the door. For more information visit

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at


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