Kristin Costa: The Tuvan Tuner of Fashion
From left to right: model Maria Costa, photo by Adrian Buckmaster; model Ivy Dominique, photo by Anna Fischer; model Melanie McShane, photo by Babette Daniels.
“One of my many day jobs includes working for Izquierdo Studios, in which I have the amazing opportunity to work with many talented people on amazing projects,” she said. “I have learned a lot there, and though usually I am collaborating in making something another person has designed, I get to have a hand in costumes seen on Broadway, in TV commercials, films, and on runways.” Helping with the evil queen’s dress from the film Enchanted, Ariel's black wings in Julie Taymor's film Tempest, up until a few years ago, Costa even helped create Victoria’s Secret runway wings through the company she worked for. Collaborating with additional artists like Andy Jordan, Costa has built for herself a reputation of excellence.
That high caliber and admirable success of her work is often the sum of her inspiration. Costa finds a muse for her patterns through both nature and conceptual art and themes. “I am extremely inspired by nature,” she admits. “However I think I am more interested in psychological themes expressed by human beings.” Discussing her visionary designs, speculating on innate, mental behavior, Costa elaborated that such conscious thought is often “reflected in nature in some way,” asserting that “we have had to have a synchronistic relationship with it one way or another since we started to exist.” A collection, for Ms. Costa, is the expansion of a theme. “While there will be visual icons and ideas presenting the surface of the design, beneath it I like to explore the different answers to possible questions of those ideas,” she admits. “There are so many cultural and metaphorical symbols to find in nature and human relics, I like to utilize them as a starting point to express a more visceral message in the form of wearable art.”
Draping her models in antelope wear made with stylistically shredded, natural- looking material, a normal runway designed by Ms. Costa includes: wild creatures, free at play, and new-age, Goth forest dwellers, sporting clenched material and a high, ruffled collar. They’ll include re-mixed fairy tales: a sexy Red Riding hood, a colorful, graphic Queen of Hearts, black laced necklines and rockers with wings. Other collections have included red and white masked regality, walking with material-made crowns connecting into their dresses, reaching two feet above their heads, as well as black-masked maidens with melting fingers. White bunny women with rabbit ears and deer skulls have been known to pop up at Costa’s shows. Winged, stocking- wearing models with platform leather boots and matching clothing have also graced the floors. The costumes, intelligently built and arranged, flatter the models, as well as amplify an idea, a concept-- insightful and nearly secretive in nature—that Ms. Costa has thought up.
“The spring collection premiers during NY fashion week in September , and the theme is Glass Box.” Based around mimes and invisible restraints, the collection is designed to consider ones options, exploring “the question of being trapped or overcoming those barriers.” Describing the material and structure of her newest designs, Costa makes known “it is a bit different than my Fall/Winter collection in that the materials used are much lighter weight, and there are far fewer long sleeves and knit pieces.” Focusing on “making more basic layering pieces that can be worn in many different ways,” Costa will be selling the finished wear through her website, etsy, and many small boutiques.
If Costa’s fashion had a voice “it would sing like a Tuvan throat singer.” Carrying a certain tune, a theme, on the surface, and upholding the altos and sopranos of varying “resonances” beneath it, her works chime with complexity. Giving an example, Ms. Costa tells of a collection she once designed based on Birdcages that held underlying “resonances,” investigating the issues of entrapment, flight, and protection. “I try to make everything I do have multiple dimensions that people can connect with,” says Costa.
And that sense of cathartic connection, the creating of a story through the manipulation of material, is exactly what she excels at.