Costume jewels

Costume design is about creating a fantasy, a new reality, be it on the pages of Italian Vogue, in a David Lynch film or walking through Kilburn dressed as a Punk – this is how costume designer Kate Forbes describes her craft.

’It’s an escape, an expression of individuality, experimentation, empowerment and desire – it’s the most vital tool to externalise who you are and what you really want to be,’ she says.

Forbes’ visions made real will be on show at London’s The Horse Hospital in Fake Food & Fast Cars, an exhibition of conceptual costumes taken from eight collections commissioned by hairdresser Toni & Guy over a five-year period.

As the costumes’ titles suggest, Forbes draws inspiration from many sources. ’For me the juxtaposition of elements, from market-stall fakes to historical paintings, and from native costumes to automobile design, provides endless inspiration and continue to deliver surprising and original designs,’ she says.

One collection took Futurism as a concept, and Forbes looked at 20th-century design to reinvent silhouettes from the period. It portrayed naive ideas of future worlds from old B-movies, using hi-tech modern fabrics, such as rubber and Chroma Key blue backdrop materials.

Materials are crucial to reinventing historical silhouettes, says Forbes. They provide the colour and texture, and can take something familiar and place it out of context, she explains.

This is Forbes’ first solo show, and she hopes to inspire visitors. ’I want to invite people to see costume as sculpture and clothes as an art form, and challenge perceptions of clothing,’ she says.

Fake Food & Fast Cars: The Pop Couture of Kate Forbes is on at The Horse Hospital, Bloomsbury, London W1 from 10 September to 2 October

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