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Young designer creates unusual fashion show for senior project

By Staff | Dec 21, 2016

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary With student designer Ashley Mahaffey is Alex Pyda, a nursing student at Penn College who is wearing a dress fashioned by Ashley from magazine pages.

WILLIAMSPORT – Making a fashionable statement these days is no easy task. But Ashley Mahaffey from Hughesville decided to combine her skills into a culminating fashion show that no other could duplicate.

To end her senior year at the Pennsylvania College of Technology as an industrial design student, Mahaffey decided to endorse her talent and design skills to create a fashion show that not only showed what she has learned in the course of industrial design and the human factor, but visually incorporated her passion for fashion and new trends into this remarkable project.

“I decided for my senior project to design something new to Penn College,” she said. “I have always had an interest in fashion.”

She collected items considered to most to be trash, and created five unique designs made from feed bags, newspapers, plastic bags, caps and magazines. She also fashioned some accesories and had them on display for the fashion show which was held on the evening of November 30 at the Professional Development Center at Penn College.

“She’s worked really hard at it,” said Mahaffey’s mother, Julie Hughes, also from Hughesville and was wearing a bracelet made from wine bottle corks. Ashley did everything from scratch, from building the runway to hiring a photographer, doing the narration, organizing the music and recruiting the models who were colleagues and friends.

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Ashley Mahaffey (far right) from Hughesville and 4 other models were part of Ashley’s ‘Trashion Fashion Show’ at Penn College held November 30 for her senior project in industrial design. Each of the dresses are made from recycled materials.

Mahaffey sought the help of Valerie Beggs who is a professional fashion designer with a “make what you wear” studio at the Pajama Factory in Williamsport. “Ashley is an excellent designer,” Beggs said who coached her in developing her designs for the runway. “Her good work ethics really helped.”

“It was my intention to reuse these products to save the environment,” explained Mahaffey. On one of the outfits she used pink shopping bags from Weis Markets to create “an outdoors look.” Each model was uniquely clothed with recycled materials. On another model, painted feed bags were used to drape a skirt that wrapped the body to resemble flowing leaves. Ashley’s stylish dress was made from crumpled newspaper adorned with a blue top repurposed from old pajamas, and the shoes were embellished with decorative candy wrappers and bottle caps.

The entire look created an ensemble of stunning evening wear. One would never know from a distance that the outfits were actually “upcycled” throwaways, or what many would consider to be disposables. “I really like the ‘Bohemian’ look”, replied Ashley. To accessorize her unconventional outfit, Ashley wore a headband she made from soda can tabs that could become a “bestseller”, according to one of the models.

On display were more accessory items she created such as purses, headpieces and shoes, all made from throwaway items. For some of the headpieces, she used actual leaves to give everything a natural look. A mannequin wrapped in a chic two piece newspaper dress greeted those attending the show.

Her professor, Thomas Ask said that this was Ashley’s “capstone project” before graduating on December 17. “It is like a senior thesis, and she chose this design project.” The industrial course requires a finished project in product design or experimental design according to Ask. “It is a mix of function and aesthetics for the whole profession,” he added. “Apple phones are a good example of product design Ashley’s fashion show was unusual and never done before here at Penn College.”

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Introducing attendees to Ashley Mahaffey’s ‘Trashion Fashion Show’ at Penn College was this fashionalble newspaper dress.

With a Bachelor’s degree in design and a minor in marketing and business administration, Ashley’s dream is to pursue a career in shoe design. “I always wanted to do something in fashion,” she said and her mother added that Ashley had an interest since she was quite young and would spend hours deciding on her wardrobe. So creating a ‘Trashion Fashion Show’ seemed like the ideal thing to finish her senior year.