It all began with an abandoned plastic doll on a stunning beach, and the nagging notion that the seaside façade hid something far less unspoiled.
Bob Weinstein has traveled to some of the world’s most beautiful coastlines for the work he does helping establish brands like the luxury swimwear company, Everything But Water. But lately, the president and executive creative director of Concrete Brand Imaging Group has noticed that even the most coveted waterfront locations around the globe are tainted by a growing, and alarming, environmental hazard — ocean pollution and marine debris.
The issue was already on Mr. Weinstein’s mind on a recent trip to Turks and Caicos in February for a fashion photo shoot with Everything But Water, whose co-owners, Sabra Krock and Randall Blumenthal, began an initiative called Water is Everything to support non-profits like The 5 Gyres Institute, which brings awareness to ocean conservation issues on days like World Oceans Day on June 8 and Coastal Cleanup Day on September 15.
And that is what Mr. Weinstein was thinking about when he spotted who would become known as “Barbie” or “Bobby,” depending on which member of the crew you spoke to, Mr. Weinstein said with a smirk, — a discarded plastic doll on a sandy beach in the southeast Bahamas. As he picked her up off the warm, white sand, all he could think of was that she was just another absconded piece of plastic that would take thousands of years to break down. But how could he, on a fashion shoot, bring attention to the devastating impact plastics are having on the world’s oceans. “And then I thought about Cindy,” said Mr. Weinstein.
As a board member of the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, Mr. Weinstein is more than familiar with the work of North Fork artist Cindy Pease Roe, whose art is crafted from plastic marine litter and who created a series for the museum last summer featuring whales and other marine life. Ms. Pease Roe collects materials from beaches — cleaning the environment is a necessary part of her craft — and thinking of her, “Trashy Fashy” was created in his mind.
The contest was to dress “Bobby” — really an Elsa doll from the Walt Disney film “Frozen” — in
fashions created from debris collected on the beach. The crew of assistants, models, photographers, stylists, and even Ms. Krock and Mr. Weinstein, tackled the project with verve, developing an Instagram following as they posted each new design.
“And when you are looking for trash on the beach, and it is a part of a competition, you are going to collect a lot of trash,” he said. “But it wasn’t just the collection, it was the awareness, and all of a sudden, we were seeing all of this trash we would have glossed over as you are looking at the sky, the sand and the water.
Suddenly, we were very aware of trash — everything from plastic bottles, plastic straws, fisherman’s nets, plastic bags, lids from coffee cups, and construction debris — all of which became source material for some fabulous costumes.”
Photographer Amanda Pratt, who lives part time on Shelter Island, took the first stab at an outfit. “And it was a total Christian Lacroix,” said Mr. Weinstein. “She immediately raised the bar and it hadn’t even been lifted yet.” Mr. Weinstein said he believed his green plastic miniskirt with matching glasses took the contest to even
further heights, although he was quickly bested by Willow Mayor, a hair and makeup stylist who brought a futuristic orange, Lady Gaga-inspired jumpsuit to the scene. “And then it just went on and on and on,” he said.
The domain for “Trashy Fashy” has been secured, and Mr. Weinstein says he hopes he and Ms. Krock are able to use the concept to bring awareness through either small events, like those involving local school students, or larger scale projects, perhaps even working with fashion designers on a runway show. “It’s just the beginning, so stay tuned, but really while
this is fun and engaging, the goal is awareness,” he said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, approximately 1.4 billion pounds of trash enters the ocean on an annual basis. Marine debris not only creates eyesores with the potential of hurting economies dependent on their waterfront, but it can also damage habitats, entangle wildlife, and be swallowed by marine life, which can cause injury and even death. It is also impacting the health of coral reefs, according to NOAA.
Ms. Pease Roe said that as awareness has grown
so has the proliferation of art as a form of expression to tell this tragic tale. “I have been doing this for 10 years now, and I have seen it really grow — especially on social media like Instagram,” she said on Wednesday. “There is a lot of new art using marine debris, and that is exciting.”
Through Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Krock, Ms. Pease Roe recently had a large humpback whale made of marine debris and named after her mother, Delia, installed at the 1 Hotel in South Beach, Miami. “That would have never happened 10
years ago,” she said. “My mother simultaneously inspired and embarrassed me as a teenager, picking up litter, but she was educating me about how precious resources are, especially water.” Delia was raised by missionaries in China, and was a collegiate swimmer — both experiences giving water a sense of preciousness, said Ms. Pease Roe, who will try and pass that same message along this Sunday on Earth Day with a special workshop at the Southampton Arts Center from 1 to 4 p.m.