Designing a Dress for the Miss Philippines Earth Pageant

My girlfriend is competing in the Miss Philippines Earth pageant, as Miss Laoag. In one of her competitions, she needed a dress made from recycled materials, and she was only given three days advance notice. I designed her dress, which won high marks from the judges.

Miss Laoag (Maria Theresa “Apple” Ocampo) competing in Miss Philippines Earth, 2014
Cocktail dress designed by Tony Ahn

The top is papier-mâché, the belt is made from interlocked soda can pop-tops with a beer can pull-top fringe, and the skirt is made from Coke Zero cans. The purse is also made from interlocking soda can pop-tops, but was not designed by me.

A closer look at the dress.

It took five hours to cut those Coke Zero cans into rectangular tabs and an hour to weave the pop tops and pull tabs into a belt. The papier-mâché top made from (literally) yesterday’s news took just an hour because we used a hair dryer to quick-dry it.

I wish I had a photo of the back. After we molded the papier-mâché to her and dried it, I realized we had a problem: there was no way to get it off her without cutting it. I had a flash of inspiration and cut a 9-inch wide strip out of the back, from top to bottom, reinforced the edges I created with several layers of clear masking tape, and punched holes every three inches in the reinforced edges. Then I got some hemp string dyed silver and used that to lace up the back. It looked great.

Here is Apple in a more natural, everyday look: 

Apple Ocampo
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