The team from McLean, Va.-based Davis Carter Scott preps Kristen Melton before the show. The firm's used the back of a Herman Miller chair for the John Tyler-inspired dress.
Eli Meir Kaplan The team from McLean, Va.-based Davis Carter Scott preps Kristen Melton before the show. The firm's used the back of a Herman Miller chair for the John Tyler-inspired dress.

In a Virginia arts center last week, the scene looked like what you'd expect before a fashion show. People in cocktail attire fussed over people in costumes more complicated than their own. But these people were not clothing designers or models—they are architects and designers.

In its fifth year, the annual Cosmo Couture event challenges firms to design clothing using building materials. Think carpet, tile, and even the back of chair. The event is put on by the International Interior Design Association Mid-Atlantic Chapter's Washington Metro City Center, and was held this year at Artisphere in Arlington, Va. The event benefited local domestic violence shelter My Sister's Place.

This year, each firm picked a United States president as their inspiration. Most of the outfits—while neat to look at from the runway—were more fantasy than reality. But then again, so is the idea of wearing carpeting.

Nita Tuvesson wears HOK's outfit, constructed with Carnegie upholstery fabrics.
Eli Meir Kaplan Nita Tuvesson wears HOK's outfit, constructed with Carnegie upholstery fabrics.
A close-up of the 3D-printed gold collar in HOK's George Washington-inspired outfit.
Eli Meir Kaplan A close-up of the 3D-printed gold collar in HOK's George Washington-inspired outfit.


The details stood out. HOK associate and project manager Nita Tuvesson wore the firm's outfit inspired by George Washington, which included a 3D-printed collar and laser-cut back patterned after the dollar bill. D.C.-based Hickok Cole Architects molded laser-cut carpet backer pieces into a textural black and navy pencil skirt and top. WDG, based in D.C. and Dallas, rolled Patcraft yarn into 1,600 units for the skirt in their outfit, modeled by the firm's Heidi Wurstle.

Six awards were handed out at Thursday evening's event. Wingate Hughes won best performance, Interplan won most creative, VOA Associates won most unique material, Fox Architects won best interpretation of theme, CORE won haute couture, and WDG won audience favorite.

VOA Associates won the Most Unique Material Award for their outfit inspired by Andrew Johnson.
Eli Meir Kaplan VOA Associates won the Most Unique Material Award for their outfit inspired by Andrew Johnson.
RD Jones & Associates' Sara Carvajal models their John Adams–inspired outfit, made with Innovations wall covering.
Eli Meir Kaplan RD Jones & Associates' Sara Carvajal models their John Adams–inspired outfit, made with Innovations wall covering.


Wingate Hughes Architects won the Best Performance Award. The D.C. firm designed an outfit inspired by Warren Harding.
Eli Meir Kaplan Wingate Hughes Architects won the Best Performance Award. The D.C. firm designed an outfit inspired by Warren Harding.
Heidi Wurstle wears WDG's skirt and top inspired by James Madison, which won the Audience Favorite Award.
Eli Meir Kaplan Heidi Wurstle wears WDG's skirt and top inspired by James Madison, which won the Audience Favorite Award.


Washington, D.C.-based CORE won the Haute Couture Award for their outfit inspired by William Taft, which included spray-painted fiberglass mesh tile backing.
Eli Meir Kaplan Washington, D.C.-based CORE won the Haute Couture Award for their outfit inspired by William Taft, which included spray-painted fiberglass mesh tile backing.
Designer Kristee Buchanan of Falls Church, Va.–based Eighth Day Design models the firm's Grover Cleveland–inspired dress made from carpeting materials.
Eli Meir Kaplan Designer Kristee Buchanan of Falls Church, Va.–based Eighth Day Design models the firm's Grover Cleveland–inspired dress made from carpeting materials.


Cosmo Couture 2014