Organic Bride Artist makes wedding dress with $40 fungus

Smith came up with the idea last year while planning her wedding, and thinking about the high cost of bridal gowns that are usually only ever worn once.

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Wedding dress made with fungus play

Wedding dress made with fungus

(Erin Smith)
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With just $40, Erin Smith, a money-conscious and eco-focused bride made a wedding gown using fungus.

According to Smith, an artist whose work focuses on sustainability, waste and the future of fabrication, she came up with the idea last year while planning her wedding, and thinking about the high cost of bridal gowns that are usually only ever worn once.

Within six days, Smith came up with $40 worth of material from fungus which she had grown herself. Her Growable Gown project was used for her thesis in New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program rather than for her to actually walk down the aisle in, although she says that certainly still could have been possible.

"I didn't end up wearing the dress because unfortunately I ran out of time," she told ABC News of her August wedding.

"This particular dress was constructed and designed as an art piece. My hope had been to create a second version to wear at my own wedding, but predictably between graduating, wedding prep, and other design work I wasn't able to pull it together in time."

According to her, the earthy gown was made out of agricultural waste materials she purchased from Ecovative Design. Smith used the tree mulch mixed with mushroom spores to grow mycelium, the thread-like fibers that hold mushrooms together, to successfully create the wedding dress.

"The top was a corset style, and the skirt pieces layered over untreated burlap so that there was some movement," Smith explained.

"In terms of the durability of the dress, it's already common practice for many brides to have a dress that they walk down the aisle in, and another dress to dance in. I'd say that this dress will have no problem walking down the aisle and taking pictures, but depending on how enthusiastic a dancer you are, you may want to change first."

She ended up wearing a $10 thrift store dress to her own wedding, which pleased her mom more than the original fungus plan for the big day.

"My mom wasn't heartbroken that the mycelium dress wasn't ready, but she wasn't going to stop me from wearing what I wanted to," she recalled.

"I have a long history of being interested in things she finds strange, so although she couldn't have guessed 'mycelium dress' she wasn't entirely unprepared. She's very supportive, if sometimes surprised by my art and design work."

The fashionably elegant fungus dress hasn't seen its last legs, or rather stems, just quite yet, however.

"A friend of mine getting married next year has expressed interest in wearing a mycelium dress, so hopefully there will still be a chance for it to walk down the aisle!," Smith said enthusiastically.

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