London-based artist Daisy Collingridge layers amorphous blobs of fabric and textiles to form wearable pastel-colored body suits. With names like Burt, Clive, and Lippy, each member of Collingridge’s family has a personality that matches his/her form. Inspired by human anatomy and infused with elements of fantasy and impulse, the artist says that the costumes are an exercise in “pushing quilting to the absolute extreme.”
Each new character begins with the construction of the head. Hand-dyed jersey and other fabric patterns are filled with plastic pellets (beans) and sewn together to form blobs in various shapes and sizes. After the underlying body structure has been formed, Collingridge begins the process of hand-stitching the blobs to the wadding. She tells Colossal that she has never clocked the process but would estimate that it takes around two months on average. The “Dave” suit is named for and modeled by her father who requested it. The others are named “like children,” and are worn and photographed by the artist herself using a remote.
After graduating with a degree in fashion design from Central Saint Martins, Collingridge created her first costume in 2016 for the New Zealand-based design competition, World of Wearable Art. “The squishy idea definitely came from my graduate collection, which was all free machine quilted, but all done with really fat wadding,” she told Dazed Digital. “It wasn’t really your traditional patchwork quilt.”
Some have read Collingridge’s costumes as a commentary on body image and body ideals. “It’s really fascinating because as much as I can tell people what they mean or why I make these costumes, everyone comes at it with such a different view,” she told Dazed. “They are reflective of the human form with elements of fantasy. They neither promote or demote one body type. The idea there is an ‘ideal body’ is ridiculous. We are all so different, my work is more about the ‘ideal’ way to inhabit a body. To be joyous. They bring me joy to create and I hope that is reflected.”
Collingridge tells Colossal that her “Clive” costume is currently on tour as a part of 62 Group’s Ctrl/Shift exhibition, while the rest are at her human family’s home. “My dad unpacked Dave, who has been sitting in the living room over the festive period. He was even treated some Christmas lights.” To see the artist create and model the squishy bodies, follow her on Instagram.
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Self-taught artist Magnhild Kennedy (previously), who works as ‘Damselfrau’, uses found and vintage materials to create elaborate masks. Mesh netting, sequined appliques, ribbons, beads, and pompoms come together in Kennedy’s wearable artworks, which she documents and shares on Instagram. Leaving space for her eyes, the artist otherwise completely obscures her face and poses against a blank background with patterned fabric draped around her shoulders. The artist declines to attach specific meaning or intention to each creation, instead leaving the interpretive experience up to the viewer.
In an interview with Yatzer, Kennedy explains that she grew up in an artistic household, and describes her start as a mask-maker as “a fluke”: in the 2000’s she began making masks as a fun thing to wear when going out to clubs with friends. Over the last decade, Kennedy has continued to explore the seemingly limitless possibilities of the mask as medium, and teaches herself new sewing skills to add to her repertoire of techniques. The artist explains to Yatzer that she draws inspiration from domestic environments: “I’m inspired by people’s homes and how they live with their objects around them. I often feel like I’m decorating a space, more than making a mask.”
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For the past three decades, Louisiana-based artist Demond Melancon has created highly detailed Mardi Gras Indian suits using millions of hand-sewn small glass beads. Each suit takes several months to create and features custom patches that tell stories about African and American history.
Images of Nyabinghi warriors, Haile Selassie, African nature scenes, and slavery are strung together bead by bead to form decorative costumes that weigh up to 150 pounds and are worn from 9am to 6pm on Mardi Gras. Frills and feathers frame the complex beadwork and sequins to complete the one-of-a-kind single purpose suits.
Melancon tells Colossal that in junior high school his friends “masked Indian” and that he followed them into the craft. He was chosen by the elders to learn sewing techniques as well as the history of Black Masking Culture in New Orleans when he was 14 years old. After masking as a Spy Boy for 15 years with the Seminole Hunters, Melancon earned the distinction of becoming Big Chief to his own tribe. In addition to leading his community and passing on traditions to the next generation, the honor is expressed through the size and intricacy of his suits, which can take over 4,000 hours to complete and are only worn once.
“I study our history and historical narratives to create my pieces [with] many different references,” Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters explained. He added that as a “bead master,” his style involves using the smallest beads available to pack in as much detail as possible.
Melancon’s work has been exhibited in galleries around the world. A new documentary short about his life and art titled “All on a Mardi Gras Day” (dir. Michal Pietrzyk) was the Documentary: Grand Jury Prize Winner at Seattle International Film Festival and has been shown at other festivals across America, Germany, and Denmark. For a list of upcoming screenings and to see more of the Big Chief’s suits, visit his website and Instagram.
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A new short film titled FILTRATE imagines a future completely saturated with technology, where post-human figures interact using rune-like symbols on immersive social media platforms. The film, directed by Mishka Kornai, was created in the public spaces of Montréal’s underground Metro transit system.
The actors in FILTRATE sport futuristic costumes made by Odette Mattha with shimmering tinsel, long strands of party beads, and textured fabrics that match the setting’s architectural details. Mattha’s designs take advantage of the unique feel of different areas of the Metro system: each station was created by a different architect. Though the filmmakers clearly used the spaces during off-peak times, we can only wonder at the surprise of an unsuspecting commuter.
In a statement on the film’s website, the creators explain their impetus for FILTRATE. “If people retreat into smaller and more idiosyncratic groups, what will the evolutionary trajectory of our society look like? As social groups diverge further and further over the course of generations, when does humanity cease to be just one species?”
The whole process took two years to complete, including 43 days of shooting, six months of costume building, and a year of post-production. Despite its high-tech feel, the creators share that FILTRATE was filmed using just an iPhone 7, a wheelchair, a monopod, and a hand stabilizer. You can take a look behind the scenes in an additional making-of video.
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Mixed media bespoke sculptor Yasemen Hussein explains that her art career was originally pointed in the direction of glass, but she found her passion for metalwork while working toward an MFA at Illinois State University. Now well established in her metal practice, Hussein uses copper electrical cable to form elaborate and sinuously lifelike hairdos. The video below, from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, takes a look inside Hussein’s studio as she created wigs used by the V&A for their exhibit Opera: Passion, Power and Politics.
Hussein works in a coverted stable house in south London, where she manipulates the thin metal cables to simulate elaborate styles ranging from carefully coiled curls to the sweeping fan-like shapes of a geisha’s coif. Rather than creating exact replicas of realistic hair in every wig, Hussein incorporates artistic license to suggest the volume and gesture of each historical look.
In addition to her dramatic wigs, Hussein also creates geometric sculptural installations and delicate copper feathers. You can explore more of the sculptor’s work on her website.
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Interdisciplinary artist Suzanne Jongmans uses her skills as a sculptor and costume designer to create recycled garments from packing materials such as Styrofoam, plastic sheets, and segments of thick bubble wrap. The costumes take the form of elaborate bonnets and high collared dresses which are then photographed on subjects in poses reminiscent of portrait styles from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. Specifically the Dutch artist references paintings created by artists such as Rembrandt, Holbein the Younger, and Rogier van der Weyden in her styled photographs.
Jongmans draws connections between contemporary disposable materials and the aesthetics of fine silks or lace, presenting creative takes on centuries-old clothing. “The idea of making something out of nothing changes our look on reality,” she explains. “…Most people throw that [foam] away. I make clothing out of it; foam is my textile.” You can see more of her portraits and garments sculpted from recycled materials on her website and Facebook.
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