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Sew Crazy

Angela Johnson's latest collection is on the runway and cleared for takeoff.
Angela Johnson

Fashion designer Angela Johnson hasn't made any Day-Glo straitjackets yet.

Nevertheless, she's dubbed her Fall '05/'06 runway show "Sideshow Freak in the Padded Room." The co-founder of the LabelHorde fashion network likens her latest threads to creepy carnivals and mental disorders.

"The Padded Room theme is because many of the pieces that I am making almost have a split personality," says Johnson. "I am known for taking an existing garment and turning it into a completely different garment, like my tee-shirt ball gowns, which are strapless ball gowns with huge, billowing skirts made from cut-up, thrifted tee shirts.

"The Sideshow Freak theme was the result of [my being] very heavily influenced by the creepiness and the feel and atmosphere of vintage carnivals and circuses."

Makeup and hair artists from Urban Hair will gussy up models from four different agencies to strut Johnson's new duds, including her Bustle Skirts -- pencil skirts with rows of ruffles along the back, made entirely from men's button-down shirts. The show also includes samples of Johnson's "Wearable Art," "Ready-to-Wear" and "Custom Couture" lines, available for purchase to the general public. "The cool thing about this is that if we were in Los Angeles or New York, a show like this would only be open to store buyers and the media," says Johnson. "But because we live in a state where the fashion industry is still in its infancy, there are opportunities like this for the average person to catch a designer's seasonal debut runway shows in person."

The runway show includes live music from DJ Aaron Z, chocolate fountain desserts by Serenade Catering, and performances by "sideshow freaks," but Johnson won't reveal what the freaks will actually be doing. "You will just have to come," she says, "and find out for yourself."

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