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Fishin for Fashion makes a splash in its ninth year

Fishin for Fashion makes a splash in its ninth year
Fishin for Fashion makes a splash in its ninth year


Kate Lamontagne, owner of Kamala Boutique, presents an eco-friendly nautical flag bag at the Fishin for Fashion 2022 show. Photos by David Dostie

A Midcoast tradition returns with nautical haute couture. This weekend marks the ninth annual Fishin for Fashion show in Boothbay Harbor.

On Saturday, local merchants, accompanied by 14 designers, will present their best seasons with fishing nets for lace, sailcloth for dresses and life jackets transformed into tote bags.

The tradition, started by Dana Paolillo, began as part of the former Boothbay Harbor Festival. After the pandemic, the torch was passed to the Boothbay Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce.

Fishin for Fashion 2022 show program notes.

This year's show will take place at the shipyard from 1 to 3 p.m. General admission follows the VIP reception, then proceeds to the lobster trap walkway.

Three judges Donna Maxim, quilter/artisan; Anne Baldridge, Miss Maine; and Kristin Furrow, owner of Weekend Vintage, will choose the recipient of the 2024 Peoples Choice Award.

Proceeds will benefit the Boothbay High School Project Graduation and Fisherman's Memorial.

We are excited to introduce our first Makers Market, said Kjirsten Flores, the chamber's marketing coordinator. Guests can explore artisanal products before and after the show. Products range from stained glass and jewelry to André Benoit's assemblage of wooden sculptures.

Benoit creates works of art from leftover wood and wreckage from the shore, as well as discarded furniture. He said his art encompasses what the exhibit is all about: reuse.

For Project Runway fans, Flores compared Fishin for Fashion to the 2012 All Stars episode in which contestant Gunnar Deatherage made a dress using items from the Dollar Tree.

BRES students Shea Fritz and Elise Wilson at their first Fishin For Fashion show.

People are fascinated that designers can create stylish fishing gear, Flores said. This is part of why this event is so popular. This provides a chance for creativity to express itself, and once the wheels turn, the options are endless. Every year it gets better and better.

Lori Reynolds organized the Boothbay Harbor Fest in September 2012 to help local businesses after children returned to school and calm returned to the neighborhood, she said. In 2015, his friend Paolillo shared the vision of adding a fashion show to the mix.

It was difficult for people to support the idea, Reynolds said. So, Paolillo made the first dress and had his daughter, Olivia, model it to show what we had in mind.

The first dress was made from vintage sheers from the Nat Wilsons collection. It wasn't until Paolillo found herself at the San Diego Sailing Festival that she realized her great fame as one of the greatest sailmakers.

We have people in this city who are world-renowned and very humble about it, Paolillo said. This is why it is so important to shed light on our traders and fishermen: these often unsung warriors.

Reynolds and Paolillo remember looking out the window of the Rockside Inn, now the Boothbay Oceanside Golf Course, before the first show, wondering if people would attend.

And, boy, did they do it, Reynolds said. From the start, participation was significant.

To save money, the duo used what lobster traps, plywood and buoys were available to make the first track. Until today, the tradition has remained strong.

Original design of Cheryl King Nelson's Sail Away wedding dress.

Over the years, designs have varied from shell headpieces to wedding dresses, as have designs ranging from dogs to 582-year-olds.

In some cases, the show has even become a family affair.

There is a washer at the top and bottom of a buoy that holds the rod in place, Paoillo said. In 2017, my mother had an idea for a dress. Naturally, my poor dad had to drill holes in each washer, which took forever. We still laugh about it today.

While the event is just plain fun, it also references deeper themes of sustainability and cultural heritage.

Fishermen are stewards of our community, Flores said. This show is about it. We encourage the act of recycling and reuse beyond the parameters of the show (once a year) to ensure a healthy harbor is maintained for generations to come.

Reynolds agreed.

If anything was going to be transformed into fashion on the coast, it would most certainly have to be materials from the maritime industry, she said.

According to Flores, there are a few VIP spots left. To pick up a ticket, stop by the room at 192 Townsend Ave. or call 633-2353.

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