Dressing “on trend” is vitally important to many teens, but Gisselle Costa and Denisse Damken are designing their own recyclable fashions, creating Modern Chaos in the process.
Costa and Damken are seniors in McAllen ISD’s International Baccalaureate Programme at Lamar Academy. They named their fashion line Modern Chaos, as we learned in January when their classmate, Alexis Alvarado, wrote about their designs.
We decided to follow up with Costa and Damken to learn what has transpired since then.
Costa and Damken were featured in Valley Business Report, Socialife, Telemundo and CBS 4. They have created additional pieces for their fashion line in recent months. The two students are “thrifters” extraordinaire.
The thrill of the hunt
“I’m a very specific shopper. I know what I like and what I want,” Damken said. “It’s not necessarily the design. It might be the fabric, it has to call my attention at the beginning.”
Her favorite local thrift shop is Texas Thrift on the corner of Business 83 and 2nd Street in McAllen. She also finds key pieces at Thrift City, a little further west on Business 83. Costa finds her inspiration pieces at thrift shops and at antique fairs.
“I look for staples,” she said, like blazers, dresses and even not-so-easy-to-find vests. Costa also searches for clothing with details like small buttons that she can repurpose.
“I really like cutting things up,” she said, adding that this is one of the reasons thrifting “feels safe.”
One recent piece started as a hand-me-down black dress.
“I wanted it to look like it had texture,” Costa said.
After shortening it and making the hem billowy, the two students cut plastic bags to make pom poms like they made with tissue paper as children. They gathered the plastic-bag pom poms in the middle with string tags used to bind IB exams.
“They just accumulate,” said Andrea Gutierrez, an IB coordinator.
By using these tags made of string and plastic, Costa and Damken prevented them from ending up in a landfill. Once assembled, they glued the pom poms onto the dress.
“Fabric glue has been our best friend,” Costa said.
The fashionistas showcased their designs at IB Poetry Night in February. They also submitted Damken’s photographs of their clothes being modeled to Indelible Ink, the IB literary magazine.
Costa and Damken have big plans for the future, such as exploring mixing biology and fashion. Bacteria expands, they explained, so it is being tested on athletic wear.
“I think that’s the future of a lot of industries,” Damken said. “Biology incorporated with fashion is going to be big.”
In the fall, Costa will head to Parsons School of Design in New York City. Damken had planned to study psychology but will now major in design management, the business side of the fashion industry.
Costa and Damken always have their impressive design books handy, never knowing when inspiration will hit. They are currently working on a “Starry Night”–inspired jacket and a trend-breaking fashion show.
As Costa and Damken head off to college, they will, undoubtedly, create much more Modern Chaos.