Her heart’s on her sleeves

Pieced together, sometimes from drapes, free-spirited clothes take a turn on Fashion Week’s runway

12 Oct 2020 | 12:07

Erika Domanico stands at the center of her second floor showroom in Boonton, NJ. Around her hang garments of all sorts, a spectrum of textures, materials and colors. Though once disjointed and separate, they come together now as a cohesive whole known as the Sassy Scraps Upcycled Boutique.

Domanico has fashioned the garments, handbags and jewelry on display all around, entirely through the repurposing of fabrics and hardware. Cast aside, they have all been reformed into modern fashion, with a definitive slant toward new-age Bohemian. “I was born in ’69, so I guess it’s in my blood,” Domanico said. “I’m about peace, having fun. Easy spirits. I take that and try to spin it into my own dimension.”

Loose flowing, easy-to-wear cuts dominate the walls, many adorned with frilled edging and trimmed with a mixture of fabrics that, though at first blush may not seem compatible, when seen together create a wonderful sense of freedom, even playfulness. These are elements that are nonexistent in the modern fast-fashion environment that has come to dominate shopping malls and department stores. There’s a heart to Sassy Scraps, and it’s literally worn on the sleeve.

“I have a degree in interior design, so I started out years ago with the upcycling of furniture,” said Domanico. “This was before the ‘shabby chic’ era. After that I started an interior design studio and did a lot of handmade window treatments. That got my wheels turning toward making clothing.” Glancing around the room, she added, “Some of the clothing here is actually made from curtains.”

Domanico’s work has not gone unnoticed. In September, Sassy Scraps was featured in New York Fashion Week, complete with models showing off her work on a rooftop runway in SoHo. Her mom would have loved it. “I really believe my late mother helped me there,” Domanico mused. “My mom made my prom dress. My grandmother was always sewing. I was around this all my life.”