As University of Virginia alumna Lindsay Hinz walked the streets of Brooklyn in a wedding dress, strangers congratulated her on her marriage and told her how beautiful her dress was.
They were right about one thing – it was a beautiful dress – but those kind strangers were missing a few key facts.
Hinz didn’t get married. And her dress? It was made entirely of toilet paper.
In fact, Hinz was taking photos of her submission to the 2017 Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest, sponsored by Cheap Chic Weddings and Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products L.P., which makes – you guessed it – toilet paper. Quilted Northern toilet paper, to be specific.
Hinz is one of 10 finalists who will present their quilted creations – made using only toilet paper, tape and glue – during a runway show Thursday night. The winner, judged by a panel of design professionals, will receive a $10,000 grand prize and make an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Heinz used 49 rolls of Quilted Northern to create her full-skirted wedding dress, which features an intricate lace bodice, a bouquet and a chic hat, all made of toilet paper. She spent several months designing and piecing together the gown.
“I’m really excited to see my own design and creation come down the runway,” she said. “I’m nervous, though not necessarily about if I win or lose. I just want to represent myself well.”
It’s not the first time Hinz has designed a dress for a large audience. She earned a master’s degree in costume design and technology from UVA’s Department of Drama in 2014 and is now a costume technologist with Colin Davis Jones Studios, a New York City costume construction and tailoring shop that supports Broadway shows, dance productions and operas.
In her three years as a costume professional, Hinz has worked on major shows, including Broadway productions like “Cabaret” (where she created costumes for star Emma Stone), “Cinderella” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” and NBC’s live action productions “Peter Pan Live!” and “The Wiz Live!,” an adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I started sewing in middle school, and I have always been artistic,” Hinz said. “I am also a big movie buff. I would watch movies, notice the costumes and try to make them myself.”
By the time she graduated from high school, Hinz knew she wanted to make costumes for a living. She earned her undergraduate degree from Christopher Newport University and went straight into UVA’s three-year costume design and technology master’s program. She concentrated on costume technology, which involves taking the visions that costume designers draw and turning them into reality.
“I like to draw and paint, but I have always been more interested in the sewing part of the work,” Hinz said. “That is one reason it’s been exciting to get as far as I have gotten in this contest. It combines design and technology, and it’s my own idea and creation that will be walking the runway.”
Before designing her toilet paper wedding gown, Hinz looked back at finalists from previous contests, which were first held in 2005. She noticed that many of the gowns were slim and form-fitting and decided to do something more voluminous.
“It is a toilet paper dress contest, so I wanted to use a lot of toilet paper,” she said. “And, I wanted to make it look as realistic as possible.”
She drew up a full-skirted design, with layer upon layer of toilet paper ballooning out below a fitted lace bodice. Then, she had to find a way to execute it – keeping in mind that toilet paper is much more fragile than many of the fabrics she works with.
“It was really hard to keep it from ripping,” she said. “You have to have a very delicate hand, even when you are just moving the dress onto a table.”
Since zippers, metal hooks and other supports were a no-go, Hinz used clear packing tape to build the bodice and carefully covered it with tiny pieces of toilet paper intricately cut to approximate lace. She also made toilet papier-mâché buttons to finish off the dress and ensure everything stays in place.
Overall, she said, it was a fun challenge and an exciting – if nontraditional – foray into the world of bridal couture.
“I do like making wedding dresses, preferably out of fabric, and I have made a few for the stage,” she said.
Ultimately, though, Hinz’s dream job still skews more movie star than blushing bride.
“I would love to make cosplay costumes and replicate the things that I see in movies,” she said. “For now, though, I am happy where I am. I got to Broadway a lot faster than I thought I would, and things have happened fast since then.”