Turning candy wrappers into high fashion is a rite of passage at Chicago-based Candyality sweet shops.
Terese McDonald, owner of Candyality, has been creating candy wrapper dresses, shoes, and handbags for several years, alongside her mom, sisters, and employees. The works of art are prominently displayed each year at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago, and then move to permanent exhibits at both Candyality shop locations.
The tight-knit crew starts the process months before the show. “Most dresses take an average of 18 to 30 hours,” says Terese. “It’s a lot of work, but it stretches all of our imaginations. We become connected on a whole new, creative level.”
Some dresses are made entirely out of wrappers while others incorporate both wrappers and candy. Many participating manufacturers send Terese new products that they are unveiling at the Sweets and Snacks Expo for that extra dose of buzz.
During the show, I noticed that the majority of onlookers were snapping photos from their smart phones, so they had to be telling at least two friends.
The dress I photographed most was constructed from Wrigley’s new Juicy Fruit gum chews and wrappers. I’d wear this adorable summer dress if it fit!
Not all dresses come together easily. Terese says it took her three tries and about 30 hours to get the Cracker Jack dress right. “Working with cardboard boxes is difficult. Once I figured out that I needed to cut the boxes into smaller pieces, the dress finally fell into place,” says Terese. “Cutting is scary, though, because there is no turning back. This dress was a nail-biter.”
The Skittles dress featured the new pink Skittles Desserts wrappers and multicolored candies.
Accessories are another important part of the Candyality exhibit. This year, a Tootsie Roll purse, Sour Power shoes, and a Now & Later cross-body handbag took center stage.
Candyality’s 2014 Candy Wrapper Couture exhibit includes eight dresses: (from left) Now & Later, Jelly Belly Camo Beans, Cracker Jack, Sour Power Straws, Skittles Desserts, Skittles Desserts Part II, Tootsie Pop/Tootsie Roll, and Juicy Fruit Chews.
Terese says inspiration to create high-fashion out of candy wrappers came from the unconventional American Express Card dress worn at the 1995 Oscars, coupled with candy-inspired fashion from the show Project Runway.
“Four years ago, we were asked to do something creative for a main floor showcase for a huge Chicago Fashion event,” says Terese. “My sister and I created a Skittles wrapper dress over a weekend. It was hugely popular.”
That following year, Terese approached the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company to partner with Candyality on a “Candy Wrapper Retrospective” to showcase Wrigley’s historic brands. “It garnered tons of media attention and consumer interest,” says Terese. “From there, we have just kept it going. I have a background in high-end cosmetics and fragrances. I love fashion. So this is a great way to combine my past with my present, and tell the timeless story of candy that never goes out of style … just like the little black dress.”
For more information, visit Candyality.com or call (312) 527-1010.