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Chanel Supermarket Meat Seal Bags (2014)
Chanel AW14via

Five times fashion turned trash into treasure

Balenciaga has its four-figure IKEA bag, but it wasn’t the first label to find beauty in the banal – Ava Nirui traces her favourites

Fashion loves to reappropriate. Remember Moschino’s McDonald’s inspired AW14 collection or the laundry bag prints at Celine AW13? Balenciaga recently joined the hype taking inspo from IKEA’s Frakta. Who knew a little (or rather, big) blue bag could cause so much drama? We tasked queen of designer bootlegs Ava Nirui (aka @avanope) to come up with her top five fave trash to treasure moments. 


The more I learn about Helmut Lang, the more I recognise how he is undeniably a fashion pioneer. Lang did not give a single fuck about trends or what was seen as acceptable in fashion in the 80s, 90s and early 00s, and his ability to push boundaries and elegantly put things where they weren't ‘supposed’ to be was astonishing. The most obvious examples include his signature nipple shirts, seat belts and bondage straps – but there are so many wild things he did with clothes that go unrecognised. The Austrian designer made bags that resembled cigarette cases, dresses and shirts with arm holes in seemingly random places and metal matchboxes, but my all time favourite is the bottle cap leather biker jacket for SS04. I don’t love it just for the lol-factor of Lang collecting and attaching a bunch of discarded bottle tops to the jacket, I also love it because of the little nuances that make it completely unique. 


The exaggerated nature of the setting of the Chanel AW14 show and the drama it created made the clothing that much more covetable. I remember looking at the collection and actually drooling over that £7,000 shopping basket (a reasonable price, in my opinion). But the highlight of the show was definitely the creepy handbags sealed in packaging like meat – equally one of the weirdest and coolest things I’ve ever seen on the runway. Subtle details like the placement of the price sticker made handbags truly resemble vacuum packaged poultry (not to mention the fleshy colour of the bag itself). Everything about the collection, including the supermarket setting, was meticulously planned. The way the props were lined up so perfectly, the aisles easily could've been built for a Stepford wife instead of a supermodel.


Every piece in Martin Margiela’s collections are carefully considered, and insanely referential. I saw an image in Maison Martin MargielaRizzoli’s book of his work, of a high heel pump from the spring/summer 2006 collection covered in ‘Fragile’ packing tape and I thought it was so amazing how he could insert a common product like masking tape into a high-fashion setting, while also slyly making a comment about the fragility of fashion and trends. Margiela is a pioneer in repurposing and reconstructing – recycled denim trousers, graffiti scrawled Tabi boots and split-stitched tees are among some of his most known designs. But who knew the key to badass shoes was sitting in your local post office? 


This 80s find is the ultimate in fashion-meets-function. Plucked from Franco Moschino’s ‘Cruise Me, Baby’ collection, this floatie-inspired jacket was created during the brand’s original glory years (I recently found one on 1stDibs going for a very casual £3,000). Other amazing pieces from the collection include the ‘In Case Of Emergency’ tee (complete with whistle and attachment) and the romantic ‘Love Boat’ embroidered jacket. This was the same era where iconic Moschino pieces like the ‘Recycle’ trash bag dress and teddy bear detailing debuted – nothing beats the intelligence and subtle humour of vintage Moschino.


There’s always some sort of element of fantasy in Viktor & Rolf’s shows; their runway designs are so wonderfully unwearable yet so fun. Their AW05 show ‘Bedtime Story’, gave whole new meaning to the term sleepwalking, with models drifiting down the runway wearing dresses fashioned out of luxurious bed sheets and oversized pillows as hair accessories. If I had the opportunity I would live in this collection, but then again, who wouldn’t?