Sculptural Creations and Intoxications – Arnavaz Lindsay Couture Sponsor Feature
By Alyssa Kitt
A sculptural creation rose off the shoulder of a divinely constructed couture vision – part black oyster, part modern art installation. The deep blue silhouette wrapped Magnolia Knife’s audacious body and with a dramatic sweep of the fishtail gown she stepped onto the Miss Burlesque Queensland gown parade in 2015. The audience gasped – this was how you make an entrance. The moment she donned that dress backstage an eager chorus line of contestants asked, “Where did you get this? Who made it? I want one!!!”
Arnavaz Lindsay has been one of Brisbane’s go to costume designers for several years. With her background in couture, combined with an innate understanding of figure and design, Arnavaz Lindsay is making some seriously jaw-dropping gowns. From abstract to classic, innovative, interpretive or intoxicating – she’s fast becoming one of the hottest burlesque industry designers in Australia.
Her creations are beaded with the utmost attention to detail creating sumptuous silhouettes which can transport the audience forward or back in time. Alyssa Kitt caught up to talk all things design, fashion, couture and Miss Burlesque Australia.
You come from an incredible international background in design having studied at the London College of Fashion, Melbourne School of Fashion and Australia’s premier arts institution NIDA.You also have a Bachelor in Theatre Design – how did you get started as a designer? What did your early years look like?
The idea of pursuing design as a career option did not happen immediately for me.
There were subtle influences along the way that kind of shaped the direction that I eventually chose. From the age of 8 I continuously travelled to India with my parents on business related trips. At the time I never really placed much importance on this, but now I can see that subconsciously this theatrical culture would have contributed largely to who I am today. The exposure of the vivid colours, detail and incredible workmanship that their beautiful textile industry has to offer has no doubt in my mind been an inspiration to me as a designer.
In the year 2000, I left Australia to study over in London for one year. I think the experiences I had here also had a great impact on me as a designer. I remember one of my fashion teachers encouraging me to see as much theatre in London as I possibly could. Every single week I went and saw at least one or two shows. I distinctly remember being so blown away with the huge amount of talent that London presented in their theatre productions. It captured my imagination and I started going to the theatre more frequently. I became so obsessed with it, that all I could think about was being apart of this beautiful world so I could create extraordinary visions.
You’ve worked designing costumes for theatre for over ten years what are some of your favourite past projects that you’ve designed for?
As far as theatre productions go, one of my most memorable experiences for me as a costume designer was working on a small theatre production in 2006 in Sydney called ‘Singing The Lonely Heart’ directed by Alex Galeazzi. The reason being is not only was it an amazing cast and crew to work with, but we also had limited budgets and resources available to us. Maybe to some this would be seen as a negative, but I truly believe that sometimes when you don’t have the massive budgets to spend on a show, that it actually forces you to be more creative. You are forced to think outside of the box to make something out of hardly anything. I also felt like the people who surrounded me on this show just made the experience so magical. When you have a team of creatives who just fit perfectly together, it just takes the experience to the next level. That was 12 years ago now, and this year I am back doing another show with the same director, but this time in Darwin. The production is Called ‘A Smoke Social’ and I am so excited to be working with Alex again.
I also loved working on the production of Macbeth in 2017 directed by Steven Mitchell Wright. I really enjoyed working with unconventional materials on this production. The Witches were made entirely out of different types of plastic. I loved making these. Was more like wearable art instead of a traditional ‘costume’, which was incredibly satisfying.
You’ve been involved with the Brisbane burlesque community for many years now not only as a costume designer but as a performer as well – what is it that you love about burlesque?
I absolutely love the endless passion that these women have in the world of Burlesque. It brings me so much happiness to know that there are other women out there who feel like I do. I love how in this industry you have such a vast array of different types of women from different types of backgrounds. The creative expression is so strong and I feel so fortunate to have entered into this world of amazingly strong, creative, beautiful and extremely intelligent and talented women.
Furthermore, the support I have received from this industry has been incredible and I feel it has given me a greater sense of purpose and has really helped to define who it is I want to be as a designer. I have always been someone who loves both fashion and costume design. I have always found it hard to choose between the two worlds, but with Burlesque I feel I can be both.
Your fantastical creations and gowns have graced the stages of Miss Burlesque Queensland before – what is your process for creating original pieces for performers? What do you strive to achieve with your collaborations?
A lot of collaborations are very much about bouncing around ideas and thorough research. I love this process as it is a unique experience solely between me and the client. I will never have this experience again with anyone else and that is what makes it unique. I also love the fact that with each project brings new things to research and new challenges to overcome, so you are always learning and always problem solving. I strive to transform each client into something that is above and beyond what they anticipated.
Do you have a favourite costume from one of your past collaborations?
That is such a tough question! I think every collaboration I have ever worked on has brought me a different joy and love. Each client I have worked with has a different personality and a different way of seeing things, which is what I love about collaborations. It is so spontaneous and with that you grow and learn as a designer and what you a capable of achieving when you challenge yourself.
However, if I had to choose a favourite collaboration, I would have to say that the structured peacock blue gown that I made Magnolia Knife back in 2015 for MBA, really had quite an impact on me. This gown marked the beginnings of me entering into the Burlesque industry as a bespoke costume and fashion designer, as this was my very first creation I have designed and made for a burlesque dancer, so this will always be a fond memory. Although this gown wasn’t decorative (which often I am), the power that the silhouette had really spoke to me. I loved the simplicity of the dramatic lines. Often I am an extremely detailed person when it comes to design, so making something dramatic without detail was definitely more challenging for me, but I really loved the end result and having someone like Magnolia wearing this creation only made the experience that much more special.
Your costume designs are couture perfection and include specialist construction of corsets and millinery – these really give you the ability to mould some incredible shapes – what inspires you and do you love about this process?
I think learning about the design and construction side of both corsetry and millinery has influenced the type of designer I am today. I can do organic designs or softer lines, but I do love both structure and tailoring. I have been obsessed with corsetry for so long now. It is not just the garment itself that I adore, but the shapes it creates with the body. I find it visually alluring, but also find the history of the corset fascinating too. The shapes that it creates is so sensual and artistic, and that is me all over. The first designer who really brought to my attention the beauty of the corset was designer, Thierry Mugler. Pretty much most of his haute couture designs are based on the concept of the corset, no matter if it is a dress, a jacket, a bodice etc. So many of his couture pieces have cinched waists and this give great drama and form to both the garment and its wearer.
Other things that I use as a source of inspiration in the process of designing include fantasy art, insects, architecture, art, nature, photography, culture, travel and technology. I quite like using contrasting elements in design. I can create things that are pretty and beautiful, but then I can also create things that are quite dark.
You’re about to launch your new range Intoxication – now I’ve been lucky enough to sneak a peek at the new line I gotta say – it is lush! The palettes are plush, the lengths range from dreamy boudoir babydoll to floor length gowns that I can just imagine myself sashaying around a luxurious mansion, they’re very clearly inspired by your intimate connection with the burlesque scene but tell me – what is your biggest inspiration for the line?
Initially my biggest inspiration has been the burlesque ladies and their passion for vintage inspired fashion. Being a costume designer, I have always loved referencing fashion history and bringing it into present day. I personally have always loved the quirkiness of French and British fashion. However, in this collection I have kind of adopted the soft femininity of a Parisian colour palette and mixed it with a classic hollywood silhouette from the 40’s and 50’s.
Now you’ve costumed for various contestants and been to a number of the Queensland State Finals – what are you looking forward to with Miss Burlesque Australia this year?
I am really looking forward to viewing the variety of talent and creativity that each MBA brings. I am also looking forward to the future collaborations with new and current burlesque beauties who I have not yet had the opportunity to work with. Being the Platinum National Sponsor of MBA 2018 has opened up doors for me and has given me the opportunity to communicate with a wider audience, which very much excites me. The ladies of this industry I find inspiring to work with as nothing is ever viewed as not achievable. I have always believed that anything you can dream of, you can create and I feel that the types of women drawn to Burlesque, have a very similar way of viewing things.
Arnavaz Lindsay will be joining the judging panel for the State Final of Miss Burlesque Queensland and we can’t wait to see what stunning pieces she has makes next!
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