Stephanie Peters: Bubble Couture


Stephanie Peters: Bubble Couture


Date: March 21, 2012
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor



What’s the best way to protect precious cargo?

Roll it in bubble wrap, of course.

Stephanie Peters hadn’t even thought about this metaphor when she chose to design a tutu/collar combo out of bubble wrap for her 14-year-old daughter, Raven, to model at this year’s iconcept fashion show at Art Center Sarasota.

She just thought bubble wrap might be a cool material with which to work. It’s clear. It flares out like tulle. And, as everyone knows, it’s fun to pop.

It’s also expensive.

Luckily, a friend who works at Tervis Tumbler gathered up piles of the stuff from empty boxes in the company’s Osprey showroom. When the wrap arrived in an oversized package on Peters’ doorstep, she tore into it like a kid on Christmas.

“It pretty much filled my whole living room,” Peters says. “Let’s just say Tervis is my sponsor.”

The garment is surprisingly ethereal and incandescent. From a distance you wouldn’t even realize it’s made from bubble wrap.

“It has that ruffle-y feel,” Peters says. “I like the texture of it, the bumpiness.”

A hairstylist at Salon Salon on Pineapple Avenue, Peters has participated in iconcept since the runway show began three years ago. In addition to designing costume pieces for the show, she’s also styled the models’ hair.

Her last three creations were designed for her friend and fellow hairstylist, Briana Martin, a red-haired wisp of a woman with whom Peters co-founded a line of feathered hair accessories called Sparrow.

Last year, Martin walked the catwalk in a papier-mâché dress tagged by professional graffiti artists. The year before that, she modeled a skirt made from cheesecloth.

For the Art Center’s first show, she strutted in a slinky dress cut from blue satin and adorned with lace and dove feathers.

“This year I decided to showcase Raven,” says Peters, a 35-year-old single mother and Laurel Park resident.
She chose a tutu because her daughter, an eighth-grader at Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences, loves ballet.

However, turning a sheet of bubble wrap into a tutu was no small feat.

At first, Peters ran the skirt through her sewing machine, but it jammed pretty quickly, so she hand-stitched the bubble wrap to an elastic waistband.

To offset the transparent, wraparound collar, she designed a strapless top, which she’ll eventually collage with photographs of popular Sarasota hangouts or, as Peters calls them, “pointes of interest.”

“I never thought about the idea that I’m protecting her with bubble wrap,” Peters says of the symbolism behind her choice of medium. “I suppose it’s very subliminal. Freud could have some fun analyzing it.”

While other mothers of teenage girls frantically search for common ground amid hormonal outbursts and miscommunications, Peters and her brunette mini-me appear to be in simpatico.

Maybe it’s because they’re talking about something about which they’re equally excited.

Or, maybe it’s because they’re sitting side-by-side in a Key West-style bungalow, listening to a New Age radio station, drinking coffee and nibbling on thick loaves of banana bread like two barefoot bohemian bookends.

Or maybe it’s because they finish each other’s sentences; or, at least on this particular morning they do.

“I’ve designed all her Halloween costumes since she was a baby,” Peters says. “There was the spider witch with the glow-in-the-dark web, the fairy with the wood sprite bodice, the Ice Queen from Narnia, the monarch butterfly, the mermaid with the pretty hair extensions … ”

“That you made me cover up with a shawl,” her daughter interjects.

“It was a little too sexy,” Peters says, pulling up a photo of the costume on her phone. “I didn’t realize how much of her midriff would be showing when I made it.”

In 14 years, she says she’s only purchased her daughter one costume from a store. It was a vampire suit, and she bought it at her daughter’s insistencae.

“It made me so sad,” Peters says. “It was made out of polyester and 20 other girls wore it. I was like, ‘Raven! Why would you want to look like everyone else when you can be an original?’”

The Artists
This year’s lineup includes Carl Abbott, Jenny Acheson, Iris Baranski-Daniels, Monica Bello, Lisa Berger, Sara Carney, Eric Cross, Patricia Gormley, Marcia Ente, Whitley Floyd, Sarah Ford, Larry Forgard, Ofra Friedman, Barbara Gerdeman, Zach Gilliland, Fayanne Hayes, Amanda Landesberg, Willow Livengood, Joseph Mastropaolo, Elizabeth Meyer, Christina Michiels, Andrea Mihalyffy, Ray Peper, Stephanie Peters Vicky Randall, Dale Rieke, Jane Smith, Pamela Sumner and Sharon White.

Sarasota actress and two-time iconcept model Jaszy McAllister will emcee the event.

What’s New?
When Lisa Berger announced last fall that she was leaving her post as development director at Art Center Sarasota, local artists wondered if iconcept, which Berger founded in 2009, would end in her absence.
Even Berger, who has a piece in this year’s show, was worried that someone might not take over her reins, until photographer and freelance art director Cat Pennenga stepped up to the plate — err runway.

Under Pennenga’s leadership, the Art Center has added a post-show dessert and coffee hour in the renovated sculpture garden, collaborated with new food and entertainment companies (Ringling Picnic food trucks, Urban Spiral Dance Company and DJ Q of Static Grooves) and extended the length of the catwalk.

“It’s been fun getting a bird’s-eye view of the event,” says Pennenga, who worked backstage at the 2010 and 2011 shows. “We’ve added new artists, a new dance group and we’ve got a surprise planned for the end of the fashion show.”

The red carpet kick-off starts at 7 p.m. March 30, at Art Center Sarasota. General admission is $40. VIP tickets are $75. All proceeds benefit the Art Center. For more information, call 365-2032 or visit


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