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Hifa trash fashion

TRASH FASHIONFrom a workshop at Pandhari Lodge — a bespoke conference, workshop and wedding venue out in Glen Lorne to a village cultural celebration featuring music and dance from all over the country as well as delicious and unusual traditional food. And in between various HIFA shows  showcasing immense local talent, some exciting foreign acts catered to hugely different audiences.
One Hifa highlight was the trash queen fashion competition — featuring fabulous dresses made from waste. Favourites were matching mother and daughter frocks — fifties style full flouncy skirts — made out of chimombe packets. First prize went to ‘dog food’ an elegant creation made entirely from foil lined dog food packs.
Organiser Peta Searle presented ‘pop corn’ a concoction of crumpled paper and plastic turned into a ball gown as well as ‘splash’ upcycled from her toddler’s leaking paddling pool! Entrants were a mixture of established designers as well as first timers letting their imaginations loose. ‘Huku’ could have been a wedding dress — with bodice made from chicken feathers (the teenage designer confessed she had slaughtered three chickens for her creation!), a flowing skirt made of rolled up paper cones and a long swallow tail from yellow paper flyers.
The selection of materials was extremely diverse — mealie meal bags, plastic bin liners, hard plastic, soft plastic, sawdust bags, wood shavings.
One dress was made entirely from castle beer cans, another, including a to-die-for parasol, from jungle oats boxes. Can tabs crocheted with plastic turned into a neat mini skirt and waistcoat with matching cap and bag. Accessories were also made from waste — featuring bags, hats and earrings created from bottle tops, plastic and other found objects.
Shoes were an exception though, with almost all the models — professionals from a local agency — flaunting six inch heels! It was good fun and a great way to help green awareness. Accompanied by a voice over poem intoned by Dickson Monro, the voice of a sighing, dying, poisoned planet — it was really very moving.
Hifa itself has plenty of bins — themselves made from recycled materials — but I still see vast swathes of rubbish dumped over city and suburban streets. Various initiatives are trying to make a difference and hopefully trash queen fashion will help.
Green Room this year was bereft of Shop Café’s Kerry Wallace — no steak rolls and no swearing at passing punters. Replac-ement Nourish looked rushed off their feet but I enjoyed their homemade iced tea, and the vegetarian wrap with huumus and roasted veg was a good value snack at US$3.
Otherwise food outlet of choice was the Tandoor – who were doing a hot trade in tandoori chicken – cooked over coals rather than in the traditional oven. Half chickens (US$5 each), chicken samoosas and the last naan bread — were a tasty meal for three of us while we waited for Senegalese singer Baba Maal to take the main stage. 
It was one of my best shows attracting a very mixed audience. Senegalese drums and the engaging energy of Baba Maal was perfect under the stars. Paying tribute to Zimbabwean music he was joined on stage by Chiwoniso Maraire for a short stretch and left us feeling uplifted..
But it can get edgy in the city. Late Saturday night went back for South African house band Mia Casa and Ammara Brown to find a very different crowd, young and clubby — and HIFA’s usually excellent security took a while to kick in with extreme crowd pressure making queuing to squeeze through the main gate quite scary.
But well done to the Hifa team for another festival year.