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Vt. artist's fashion from the forest - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. artist's fashion from the forest

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -

The fashion makes your head turn-- a dress sure to ruffle feathers, sleek shoes with flower power. A wardrobe that brings out the wild side.

"Some of the leading designers have gone back to some fabrics that reflect leaves and nature," Bill Brooks said.

These aren't from a runway in Milan, rather an exhibit at the Sheldon Museum in Middlebury.

"As a human being you're going to react because you choose your own clothes every day," said Brooks, the museum's executive director.

Taking sticks, twigs and ferns from the woods and turning them into fashion.

"It shows the change in fashion and then it shows how a very creative artist, based on her own inspiration, can bring new light to clothing," Brooks said.

The materials are as interesting as the designs themselves: pine needles, birch bark and even barbed wire.

Most of it comes from Red Rocks Park in South Burlington. All of it is collected by Wendy Copp.

"I must look like a very odd person because I'm bent over just filling bags," Copp said.

Bags full of nature she takes back to her studio to make her designs and her statement.

"All of these things-- all of us-- are ephemeral. They change," Copp said.

Fashion, like life, is fleeting and nature is in our DNA.

"We have a wild element inside us; we're animals," Copp said. "So, it's sort of a crossroads between the civilized societal convention of clothing and then this wild thing that we have inside."

It's that wild side on display in Middlebury and perhaps, one day, on that runway in Milan.

"Yes, they could, they could wear a leaf dress. I don't know about birch bark. Pine needles, definitely," Copp said.

Clothes that really do change with the seasons.

In addition to Copp's creations, "Fashion and Fantasy" also features antique dresses donated from across Addison County. The exhibit at the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury runs through Nov. 2.

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