This delicate evening gown was handmade from a 1.5 tonne lump of marine waste hauled in by beach cleaners off the British coast.
Dubbed ‘the monster’, the enormous lump of rubbish had been bobbing around off Pentewan Sands Beach for four years after it tumbled off a cargo ship.
Beach cleaner Toni Dowrick, 41, and a team of volunteers dragged it in and cut it up when it floated close to the waterline in January.
Eco-fashion designer Linda Thomas admired their efforts on social media and asked if she could have some of the soggy and smelly material to make into a dress.
And after four weeks of cleaning, drying and sewing, Dr Thomas created an elegant, halterneck ballgown.
Mum-of-three Toni, from Little Polgooth, Saint Austell, said: “I had seen it in the water and it really bothered me. Locals business said it had been there for four years.
“I put out an appeal on social media for people to come down the next day, and eight of us started work on it.
“Three hours later we’d managed to remove this one-and-a-half tonne monster.
“I thought Linda was balmy when she contacted me and said she wanted to make a dress out of it.
“I thought it would be tatty, and look like something that had come from a shipwreck, but what the designer created was phenomenal.”
Linda, from Bristol added: “The material has been very difficult to wash the sand and mud off.
“More than any other dress I think tells the story that it has been at sea.
“I used about 80 metres of it in layers and then top stitched with vintage orange cotton thread and shell buttons.”
The ‘monster’ is understood to have been a reel of fabric destined to top sanitary towels or nappies, and fell from a cargo shop carrying pharmaceutical supplies.
Locals said it was first spotted four years ago, and Toni saw it 18 months ago, when she was having radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer, so too unwell to haul it in.
She spotted it again in late January and posted videos of the tendrils of mucky fabric snaking over the waves and sand on social media, asking people to help the next day.
Armed with scissors, they hacked away at the mass for hours, and bagged up 80m for Linda, binning the rest.
“I never believed that just eight of us would be able to remove well over a tonne of marine waste in three hours,” Toni said.
“It was a shining example of how passionate people can come together and achieve great things.
“After being poorly, life came dramatically in to focus, the beach has always been a place where I could come to relax, play or to reflect.
“Why wouldn’t we want to look after thisbeautiful planet and leave the world a better place for our children?”
Linda, a former GP turned fashion designer, painstakingly untangled it, washed it in buckets, hung it on the line to dry, ironed it, and layered it up to six times to stitch it into a dress.
it was finished just in time for the Ocean Plastic Crisis Summit in London on Tuesday, where it was worn by singer Jazmine Flowers, who performed at the event.
It comes after Linda made a 22m ‘Wave of Waste Dress’ from 100 discarded bodyboards, last year.
“Menstrual products are one of the big single use plastics that end up in the ocean but which we rarely talk about,” she said.
“Women deserve to know what these are really made of and that they are polluting our seas, and what the alternatives are.”
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