Upcycled: Alumna To Exhibit Works In Performance Center

WORCESTER, Mass. (April 2019) — Worcester Academy alumna and fashion designer Elisabeth “Beth” Delehaunty ’89 will exhibit her textiles in a show, “Upcycled Eco-Fashion,” on display at the Worcester Academy Performance Center, 14 Marion Avenue, May 4 to 11, during Reunion Weekend. The exhibit opens May 4 with a “Meet the Artist” reception from 1:30 to 3 p.m., including light refreshments and an opportunity to purchase the creations. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds will be donated to Worcester Academy.

Beth, who is owner and “chief recycler” at Elisabethan—a Paonia, CO, clothier­—reuses and recycles cast-off clothing, fabrics, and other materials for repurposing as dresses, scarves, gloves, bags, and designer buttons, among other items. Her retail outlet and “threads mill,” ReFinery, features eco-friendly fashions for women and babies. The original hand-cut designs are regularly featured at select stores and juried art shows throughout the United States.

“Our philosophy is, “New, not More,” says Beth. “Recycling is central to everything we do at Elisabethan. Our design inspiration comes from the challenge of finding raw materials in the sea of stuff that surrounds all of us; to take the unwanted and make it into the “must-have.”
Following the show’s opening, visitors can see the exhibit by request. For information or to schedule a tour, call Ursula Arello, director of donor and alumni engagement, at 508-459-6927, or email her at ursula.arello@worcesteracademy.org.

Elizabeth “Beth” Delehaunty is a 1989 graduate of Worcester Academy, celebrating her 30th Reunion this year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts from Dartmouth College and has held several costuming jobs in opera and theatre during and after college. Though she started off using mostly vintage fabrics to create her fashions—which she describes as “wearable art”—she responded to her own growing awareness of the mountains of unwanted secondhand clothing: it needed to be recycled!

Elisabethan uses secondhand cotton T-shirts, oxford shirts, cashmere and wool sweaters as other companies use bolts of fabric. Beth designs and makes all of her patterns. The pieces for each garment are hand cut and each combination is individually matched. The result is a completely NEW skirt/top/scarf made from what already existed.

As an artistic clothes-hound in her hometown of Worcester, she scoured thrift stores. She first bought pieces of clothing and remade them to fit her better or to update their style. But eventually she began to buy clothes just for their fabrics when she realized what great potential was trapped between the pre-existing seams. Her desire to collect and use the fabrics quickly outstripped what she herself could ever wear; the whole thing snowballed.

Now, based out of a remodeled early-1900s livery stable in Paonia, Colorado, Elisabethan annually transforms thousands of pounds of secondhand clothes into fabulous, sustainable, wearable collages—-skirts, tops, scarves, hats, gloves. And beyond the finished product, Elisabethan strives to create a low-impact business model: their shipping boxes from the local newspaper or farm supply store, their cotton scraps get donated to a local food bank who sells them to a textile processor, and the paper in their printer comes from out of date notices on bulletin boards! Beth even rides her bike to the studio every day!