By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — When Rose Caudell makes a trip to the local home improvement store, she is not looking for the best paint or wallpaper to update her home.
She is most likely planning her next fashion statement.
The Londonderry woman is known to frequent stores to find just the right size PVC pipe for a unique designing mission.
Caudell creates elaborate fashions from leftover trash bags, plastic tablecloths and other materials, turning simple everyday household items into floral gowns, hats and even bathing suits, all worthy of any recycled red carpet event.
Caudell brought her trunk show of trashy fashions to the Londonderry senior center for a show Feb. 28, giving center members a chance to model the dresses and outfits held together solely by the squirt of a glue gun.
“You’d never know these were trash bags if I didn’t tell you, would you?” Caudell asked the audience.
Caudell served as emcee during her fashion show, describing each look and telling the crowd just how she put together the look with only hot glue and a lot of creative know-how.
There are no buttons, no zippers, no sewing machine needed.
“I’ve made more than 250 outfits in the last 10 to 12 years,” Caudell said. “And no outfit you see today cost more than $10, you can’t beat that.”
Caudell moved to Londonderry three years ago and has presented her unique fashion talents in shows all over the region.
Her earliest trash fashions included fringed vests made for a line dancing group. That sparked her interest in continuing to see what she could create from old cheerleader pom poms, shower curtains, tablecloths and trash bags.
“I also did some musicals,” Caudell said. “I went through about 1,000 glue guns for the big shows.”
A musical endeavor might take 125 tablecloths or more to create a certain look, she said.
“I really like making them,” Caudell said. “But the old type of plastic is much better than the newer kind.”
As Caudell introduced her senior center models, she gave a brief description of how the outfit was crafted and what went into making the look.
“This is perfect for a garden club,” she said of one floral number. “It took 10 trash bags.”
Model Louise Madrid showed off a pastel yellow number, giving an occasional twirl for the audience.
“She’s a hot ticket,” Caudell said. “It’s also not easy to get into one of these outfits. It’s a trick.”
Among the more elaborate fashions in the show were three wedding dresses, shining and flowing just like a typical style would.
“You can look like a beautiful bride for less than $10,” Caudell said.
One was made from 10 white tablecloths, veil and train included.
Her creations are not for sale.
Caudell said she likes making the fashions and hopes to bring her Southern-style hoop skirt designs to the Londonderry center for a future show.
“Those are a lot of work,” she said, noting that ‘s why she buys the PVC pipes. “But those pipes are perfect for the hoops.”
Senior affairs director Catherine Blash modeled several fashions, including a bathing suit made from trash bags.
She hopes Caudell returns to the center with more fashions.
“They all seemed to really enjoy it a lot,” Blash said.
Caudell said she is always on the lookout for a perfect item to transform into a fashionable ensemble.
“If you see someone looking for plastic table cloths or whipping cloths off tables at weddings, that’s me,” she said.