ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
Not even the COVID-19 pandemic can spur an appreciation for toilet paper like Rod Philpott can.
Thousands upon thousands of cherry blossom petals, hand-punched and waxed and curled and intricately sewn to form a haute couture gown worthy of a New York runway — that’s Philpott’s latest project, and it’s all made from bathroom tissue.
Philpott, a native of the north-central Newfoundland town Point of Bay, was one of 15 fashion designers from across the country and the only one from this province invited to participate in this year’s Cashmere Collection Masquerade Ball in Toronto. The annual fashion show — which happened online this year — features original bathroom tissue couture created from Cashmere toilet paper, raising awareness and funds for the breast cancer cause through the Canadian Cancer Society.
With a 16th-century Venetian masquerade theme, the event focused on gowns and another hot item in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic: the mask.
Philpott’s concept blended fashion with a poignant tribute to breast cancer survivors. Created on a base of nude netting, his bathroom tissue gown included about 3,000 eight-layer tissue and rhinestone cherry blossoms cascading from the shoulder and down a corset bodice, tumbling into another 5,000 or so petals scattered onto a structured ballgown skirt. The blossoms represent feminine beauty and the fragility of life, while his choice of inspiration for the accompanying mask — a fencing mask — represents strength and a fight.
“We had toilet paper everywhere,” Philpott says with a smile. “There was actually more I wanted to do with this dress, but I ran out of time.”