Wearable Glass in Wonderland

By Louise Irvine

At the stroke of noon on January 22, glass art at WMODA will come to life to launch the United Nations Year of Glass and Alice will follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass to the Mad Hatter’s tea party. On her way, Alice will encounter some of the bizarre characters from Wonderland including the formidable Queen of Hearts, the White Queen, and the grinning Cheshire Cat, all wearing glass creations by Chelsea Rousso.

Believe the Impossible

We invite you to “believe the impossible” as the characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll show off their zany costumes featuring Chelsea’s glasskinis, corsets, glass jewelry, and accessories. Chelsea was a successful New York fashion designer and trends expert before moving to Florida where she became a professor of fashion design and merchandising at the former Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. When she discovered glass as a medium, she was able to combine her love of fashion and the fired arts in collections of wearable glass which have been featured in fashion shows at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, Corning NY, and at WMODA. When not on the runway, Chelsea’s glass art is on display in the museum’s Carnival & Cabaret exhibition. Her latest collection Feel It explores the color and contours of emotions by molding recycled glass into sensuous body sculptures symbolizing the creative soul.

Curiouser & Curiouser

Chelsea first fell in love with Wonderland when she enjoyed her morning coffee beside the Alice statue in Central Park on her way to the garment district in New York. She was inspired again by the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and visited the V&A Museum exhibit Alice: Curiouser & Curiouser when she was in London recently. Alice in Wonderland is one of fashion’s most enduring muses and has influenced designers such as Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. Photographer Annie Leibowitz created a memorable fashion shoot for American Vogue in 2003 and has just published a new book about her experiences in Wonderland.


The whimsical and often ridiculous appeal of Wonderland and its coterie of characters has made Alice a literary and visual icon with a vast cultural reach. Alice’s absurd encounters seem even more relevant in today’s topsy turvy world and Chelsea has added a new dimension to Alice’s impossible dreamscape by dressing the characters in glass. She weaves ribbons and threads of glass and fuses them over a female form in the kiln to form beautiful bikini tops and corsets. Chelsea’s Alice, modeled by Whitney Fair, is wearing a yellow and white glass corset with a leopard print, accessorized with a vintage apron and tulle skirt. Alice is often portrayed in a blue dress, as in Disney’s 1951 cartoon, but in fact, the first authorized color illustrations by John Tenniel for The Nursery Alice published in 1890 depicted her in yellow.

The Mad Hatters

The Mad Hatter’s costume, modeled by Sam Fray, is embellished with glass from the buckles on his shoes to his glittering bow tie. He has a Steampunk fashion vibe combining Victorian history, fantasy, and reality. In Victorian England, hatters were often exposed to mercury used in the felting process for men’s top hats which caused physical symptoms and psychological characteristics associated with madness. Alice’s encounter with the Mad Hatter at his tea party in Wonderland was full of puzzling riddles and irritating personal remarks which led Alice to exclaim “It’s the stupidest tea-party I was ever at in all my life!”

In Chelsea’s vivid imagination, the Mad Hatter has acquired a wife, an equally zany Hattress modeled by Alena Alberani. Alena was the star of the Mannequin Project debut at WMODA on December 4 and surprised guests when she came to life in the center of all the static mannequins. Alena is a certified psychosynthesis life coach and voiceover artist who loves to make dreams a reality. She is also an avid scuba diver and this was her first time modeling underwater. Chelsea’s two Mad Hatters have already begun competing for the limelight as can be seen in Suzanne Barton’s fabulous fashion shoot. Let’s see how they fare at the Wonderland fashion show at WMODA when they are joined by many more iconic characters.

The amazing fabrics were donated for the costumes by Diana Feibeleman of Jeffrey Michaels, who inspired her textile suppliers to provide yards of beautiful materials to dress the residents of Wonderland. Valley Forge, specialists in sustainable textiles for the hospitality industry, provided fabrics for the sets. Thibaut, the oldest wallpaper company in the United States founded in 1886, has provided fabrics for an exclusive Wonderland costume which will be unveiled on January 22. Don’t be late for this very important date!

Believe the Impossible · Wearable Glass in Wonderland Event

The following companies have graciously
donated fabric for the creation of the costumes