At the beginning of 2023 I was approached by independent slow fashion brand Blue Nude to create a detachable sculpture for a limited number of bustiers for their upcoming AW23 collection. The following text was taken from Blue Nude's blog 'Creative Process - Zia Bustier'.
"While conceptualizing the Tarantula collection, we wanted to delve into two new areas of design and artistic practice - evening wear and sculpture. Inspired by the complexity of colour and the mystery of creation conveyed in the James Webb Space Telescope's image of the Pillars of Creation, we became interested in the idea of partnering with a sculptor to create intricate 'space beads' that could be easily removed and reattached to a structured bustier, like jewelry. After a recommendation from fellow Hackney Downs Studios resident and Tarantula collaborator Studio Cosmogram, we reached out to Ukrainian London-based sculptor Lea Rose Kara. Enticed by the challenge and concept of a detachable sculpture, Lea joined the collection and we began to experiment, develop, and execute the concept over a period of nine months."
"Creating a wearable sculpture presented many design challenges. It needed to be lightweight, so as not to collapse the structure of the bustier. We wanted it to be durable, as it is an ethos of Blue Nude that our pieces are comfortable, made to be worn and enjoyed. The sculpture also needed to be easily removable, to present the customer with the option of wearing the piece alone, and for washing.
After we initially proposed glass, Lea presented us with a brilliant and unexpected combination of materials with which to create the sculpture: sculpture foam, naturally dyed virgin wool, and resin. Throughout the spring and summer of 2023, Lea meticulously carved, naturally dyed, and cured our sculpture pieces. Sculpture foam was carved into our 'space beads', then wrapped in virgin wool dyed with flowers from the Covent Garden Flower Market. Afterward, the beads were slowly encased in resin to spectacular effect, with the resin reacting with and altering the hues of the dyes."
"The resulting pieces resemble an alien cocoon, budding life encased under a transparent shell. Cosmic hues of deep red and extraterrestrial green are marbled in the wool and strung together with gunmetal chains painstakingly linked and attached to four hinge hooks in the side seams of the bustier. Strung like a constellation across the front of the bustier, the beads become our 'alien jewels'."
"We are proud to produce a work that is at once technically innovative, yet wearable and comfortable. The bustier itself is soft and not restrictive, and the sculpture can be removed and reattached with ease.
In terms of the bustier itself, the shape was inspired by the elegant curves and cocoon shapes created by the innovative 1950s couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. The front of Zia's bodice is cut in an elegant curve framing the wearer's face and clavicle. It's finished with boning in the seams for support, and an exposed black metal zip in the back. It's an embodiment of cosmic elegance, sensuality, and the wonders of creation.
Zia's outer is made from a blend of Lenzing Tencel and linen fibres. Lenzing Tencel is derived from renewable sources and manufactured in a closed-loop system that reuses almost all of the chemicals used. It's biodegradable and needs less land and water to be created than comparable materials. The bustier's structured inner material is 100% recycled cotton canvas, sourced from recycled cotton shirts. The lining is Lenzing Eco Vero viscose satin. As with Lenzing's Tencel, it is made from renewable resources and manufactured in a closed-loop system.
Each bustier is manufactured at a North London-based small-batch production studio. The studio specializes in high-end production, working with many emerging and established designers and brands in the city. The sculptures were made in Lea's West London studio and assembled at our East London space in Hackney Downs Studios. The process to create just one bustier takes 14 days."