Kristin Costa: The Tuvan Tuner of Fashion
When you put on a Kristin Costa original, you put on a story. Creating a line of clothing threaded with psychological concepts and accented with character, Costa’s designs leave a permanent, dramatic impression on all who see them.
Each piece expresses a tale, a persona, an all around performance woven in earth tones and a plethora of fabric assortments. A thespian at heart and a designer by hand, Kristin’s talent and imagination began surfacing when she was young.
Ms. Costa began her designing career when she entered preschool-- crafting paper doll cutout costumes for her classmates practically before learning her ABC’s. Developing her craft as she grew, Kristin admitted “I started making real clothing for myself and others in middle school, and by high school I refused to buy clothes from stores unless I planned on adjusting it in some way.” Each project she created took, and yet takes, a variable amount of time to finish, completely depending on the complexity of the project. “I have spent as much as 3 weeks on one costume, and have been known to forget about sleep and produce a whole collection in 2 weeks,” says Costa. “The time is in the details. I love hand beading and painting, and some costumes have many hours of that!” she says. “I can complete a corset in a day, but often I prefer to work on 5 or 6 at once, and work on them over the course of a week.”
Progressing further into the world of forms, stitching and patterns, Costa “started doing fashion shows and making costumes on commission as soon as I got to college (Pratt) in 2003.” At Pratt Ms. Costa studied both painting and teaching—two subjects she would find useful in her later developing modish career. These artistic, theatrical, and instructor attributes and abilities surface in her exhibitions.
Organizing, directing, and expressing her wear, Kristin reveals her newest seasonal pieces in an avant-garde, unique manner: she shows off her clothing through movement, allowing for it to be seen from all directions and angles, highlighting its kinetic relationship with the body. Working with models that move as gracefully as they look, Costa directs highly stylized, choreographed neo-runway presentations—modern art. “When I have my own shows, I will specifically choose models with talents that express the needs of the collection,” she says. “I establish a certain kind of movement for the performers to emulate, and let each of them do their own take on it.”
From left to right, models Evelyn Kriete, G.D. Falksen, Sarah Bacot, Djahari Clarke, Chris Albers, Mia Johnson. Photo by Babette Daniels.
Even when Costa takes part in a show that is not her own, she still puts her own spin on how her fashion displayed. “When setting up a show for another event, I tend to be very go-with-the-flow, in order to best suit the event's needs, and allow for more individual creativity during the performance and with the hair and makeup,” admits Costa.
Loving creative fusion, admiring the union of her vision with the interpretation of the models, Costa makes known that the process of developing a show is a cohesive, though individualized, expression of imagination. While choreographing and directing her shows, Costa tells that she “will put people in specific roles if [I] know they are better suited for it.” Also collaborating with musicians to write music for her fashion performances, Kristin explains she “works closely with hair and makeup artists, often drawing diagrams or portraits for them to work from.”
Beyond organizing her own shows, Kristin has been showcased in many events, including FAT: Toronto Arts and Fashion Week, Dances of Vice, Anachronism NYC, Dorian’s Parlor, and conventions like Wicked Faire and Steampunk World’s Faire. “Aside from my collections, I also costume a lot of dance related and theatrical endeavors, as well as rock and roll bands,” says the busy designer. “Those have been seen all over the world, wherever the performance is shown.” Some of the more frequent companies she tends to design for include: Desert Sin Dance Company, the band Left Outlet, as well as for the singer for Psyche Corporation. “They have taken my costumes to L.A, Paris, Toronto, Austin, and all over the east coast,” she adds. Costa has also been hired as a costume and fashion designer with various studios, and has been on the team of several creative projects.