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By Diane Small
We may not think about it much, but the theatre requires a LOT of fabric. Shakespearean outfits, the garb of kings and queens and other fantastical costumes take up metres and metres of cloth, as well as loads of bits and bobs used for adornment. Theatrical productions only run for an average of a few weeks, so that’s a lot of wasted material – and it’s not all that useful to donate those costumes to charity shops because, you know, even the most flamboyant dresser is hardly likely to want to emulate MacBeth or Richard the Third.
Enter Agnieska Osipa. She takes old theatrical clothing and reworks them into new looks, be they couture you can wear to weddings and red carpet events, fancy dress costumes, or new costumes for new theatrical productions. ‘Most designers first sketch what they want to create, then set out to find the materials to make that happen,’ the designer told us. ‘But I work from the opposite approach: I see what materials are available, and then and I start imagining what I can do with them.’
Recycling not only cloth, but also the beads, feathers, buttons and brocade that are used as adornments, Agnieska meticulously unpicks the stitches of each piece and chooses items from the huge pile of remaining items to re-form them into dramatic gowns, accessories, blouses and jackets, worthy of the finest Parisian maison de couture. The result is a stunning, baroque collection of gowns, jackets, headdresses and corsets. They’re dramatic. They’re decadent. And they’re the very definition of ‘sustainable luxury.’
Sure, these clothes aren’t exactly what you may throw on for a brunch with the girls, but that’s not really the point: this recycled fashion shoot showcases Agnieszka’s most stunning pieces, proving beyond a doubt that one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
Headpiece and Costume: Agnieszka Osipa Costumes