Last Wednesday, on the tail end of NYC Fashion Week, I had the pleasure of attending the show of one young steampunk designer who’s aiming to make her own mark in the sartorial world. At the INC Lounge, Kristin Costa presented her collection “Monstrous,” a fantastical blend of fairy tale and gothic beauty reminiscent of Guillermo Del Toro. It was as if the woodland creatures from Pan’s Labyrinth had climbed their way out of the forest and onto the runway.
Kristin Costa had been into fashion design for as long as she can remember. Her first outfits were made for her friends when they re-enacted their adaptation of Gone with the Wind in fourth grade. “The costumes were made out of felt and glue,” the chirpy 25 year-old designer recalled over the phone. “I think my mom still has one of them in a closet somewhere.”
Since then, Kristin’s inspirations have been historical fashion, theater, steampunk, and art. “I love looking at fine art and historical costumes. What’s awesome about steampunk, especially, is the Victorian aspect, and I’m drawn to what comes from the past that’s really fantastic and regal.”
The “Monstrous” collection certainly embodied this dark and imaginative vision. This collection, according to Kristin, “is about people’s inner monsters and how they deal with them.” That psychological struggle was evident in the grotesque imagery that evoked classic European fairy tale symbolism. Eyes bloomed from unexpected places. The motif of a dark and sinister forest, a staple in any Grimm story, manifested itself as sharp, poking branches that emerged from fingertips and styled hair. The models played out their inner monster or beguiling innocent as corseted, wide-eyed girls snuck down the runway followed by menacing, cloaked figures. The showcase piece, an intrepid floating majesty of white lace with dangerously pointed fingers, rounded off Costa’s dramatic collection.
The outfits were a fascinating mix of ready-to-wear items and theatrical set pieces. I adored the perfect mauve-patterned dresses and the flirty brass-buttoned skirts, along with the bold cuts in menswear. The result was both showy and wearable, a mix worthy to display both in department store windows and beneath stage lights.
Below, you’ll find a small gallery of the pieces on display. Many more can be found on Costa’s website, linked above. Thanks to Babette Daniels and Knightmare6 Photography for contributing their photos for this article.
Click the images for larger, higher quality photos.
Ay-leen the Peacemaker really wants that lovely corset dress. When not drooling over pretty clothes, she runs the multicultural steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana.