Discarded to Divine at the de Young!

From his earliest forays into fashion design, Jean Paul Gaultier utilized surprising and sometimes recycled materials. As a child, inspired by his grandmother’s corset, Gaultier repurposed crumpled newspaper to create the conical-shaped falsies that he attached to his beloved teddy bear, Nana. Entering its seventh year, Discarded to Divine—an event that auctions off designer duds made from donated clothing to benefit the homeless—exemplifies Gaultier’s earliest instincts to recycle with style and purpose.


Jean Paul Gaultier’s teddy bear, Nana, wearing the first cone bra. © Rainer Torrado/Jean Paul Gaultier

Established in 2005, Discarded to Divine is the brainchild of St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco (SVDP-SF) Help Desk former director Sally Rosen. Sifting through unusable donated clothing, Rosen realized the transformative potential of the fabric that lay in a heap before her. In the right hands, namely those of a creative designer, what were once discarded, unwearable clothes could become something sartorially divine.


Lot #144 'Chimera Chordata' by Diane O

When Discarded to Divine then contacted FAMSF director of public programs Renee Baldocchi, the two organizations collaborated to create the annual preview event, encouraging participants to draw inspiration from the Museums' collections and special exhibitions. This year, designers hit the jackpot with The Fashion World of Jean Paul: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , on view through August 19.

Sailor kilt

Lot #401 'Sailor Kilt' by Jonathan Lok Man Cheung. Photo courtesy Gabriel Harber

For the past seven years, participating fashion and interior designers have selected materials from discarded clothing, furnishings and fabric donated to the SVDP-SF help desk and created works of art. Ranging from couture gowns to avant-garde jewelry to stylish throw pillows, the newly fabricated objects are auctioned off at the Discarded to Divine Gala, which will be held this year on April 26 at the San Francisco Design Center. All proceeds benefit those overcoming poverty, homelessness and domestic violence.

Pearl Pillow

Lot #229 'Familiarly Unknown' James Andy Thai

Tonight, preview the 2012 Discarded to Divine collections during Friday Nights at the de Young. Vote for your favorite design—the viewers’ choice winner will be announced at the end of the evening.

You can also check out all the designs here and vote for your favorite via Twitter @discardd2divine using the lot number as the hash tag (for example: I love the Sailor Kilt #401 @discarded2divine). The Twitter winner will be announced on April 26 at the gala.

Also tonight, explore The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier (special exhibition surcharge applies), rock out with the Fashion Slaves and enjoy art making for all ages! For more information, click here.