On Tuesday Leah Allison is flying to Italy to model a two piece outfit that she made out of glass.
The event is the final bash of the Glass Art Society conference and the runway is the canals of Murano, an island just off the coast of Venice. There will be more than 1,500 people attending.
Allison will be riding in a boat down the canals in nearly 20 pounds of glass, some of which looks like icicles and tinkles like wind chimes.
“Typically [the fashion shows] are big, like over 100 people, and this time there is only 30 people,” she said. “Most of them are Italian designers…I’m stoked/terrified about being in the same boats as them.”
Photos of the outfit are strictly under wraps until the show on May 19, but the theme is Venetian glass.
“I’ll just be like a deconstructed chandelier,” she said, having pulled inspiration from the well-known, elaborate and over-the-top Venetian-style chandeliers.
Allison has been working on the costume for months. Hand crafting each piece and stitching it together using creative bases like hand strainers from a Chinese restaurant supply store.
“There was a lot of times where I made it and I was like ‘this is awesome’ and then I was like ‘ugh it’s not’,” she recalled with a laugh. “I had to take the whole thing apart more than once.”
Though some designers will have others model their work, Allison will be wearing her own piece.
“I just thought, ‘I put so much work into it I want to wear it’,” she said.
This is the third costume and third time Allison is participating in the fashion show. The first was outfit all pink and black, which matched her hair at the time.
“The first one is pretty skimpy because the criteria back then was basically 50 per cent glass and my time sort of ran out so my costume is quite small,” she said.
The second she had two years to work on. It has more of an evening gown look to it and is black and gold.
“Of course one week before I was like ‘I’m not finished, this is horrible’,” she recalled. “Artists are really hard one themselves.”
For Allison working with glass is almost a higher calling.
“The glass is like a magic substance, molten glass, you can make it into so many things,” she said. “You need lots of skill and you need lots of patience and it’s just, it either gets you or it doesn’t.”
The first time she opened the door to an oven and felt the 2,500 degree Fahrenheit heat she said to herself ‘I will be tough enough to do this one day’ and now after working at the glass blowing studio in Invermere for a few years, she and her husband are setting up a glass blowing studio in Revelstoke called Big Eddy Glassworks.
Allison said they hope to have it open this summer, after they come back from their vacation in Italy.
The Sunday before leaving town, Allison was putting the finishing touches on her headpiece and worrying about how the costume was going to survive the trip but she was also excited to go to the place where glass blowing originated as well as honoured to be included in the fashion show.