Fashion student recreates £200k Met Gala dress with 500 pieces of paper
A fashion design student recreated a £200k dress for only £30, using 500 sheets of paper and 120 glue sticks.
Karina Bondareva, 24, from Oundle, Peterborough, was prompted to make the garment in May when American actor and style icon, Billy Porter, challenged his fans to recreate their favourite Met Gala look after the Covid-19 pandemic cancelled the red carpet event this year.
The young designer who is studying at the prestigious fashion school, Central St Martins in London, spent just £30 on materials to reproduce the £200,000 Thom Browne look worn by Cardi B at the event last year.
The original dress took 2,000 hours to accomplish, and was made with tulle, silk organza, 44 carat rubies and 30,000 coque feathers – but creative Karina pulled off her paper copy in just 72 hours with 500 sheets of paper and 120 glue sticks.
‘At first, my parents were skeptical and said; “you’re going to make a dress out of paper, how is that going to work?” says Karina.
‘But when it started to look more finished they started to believe in it and realised how big it was going to be.
‘I knew whatever I was going to make had to be red because all I had was loads of red paper and not enough fabric for a giant gown.
‘I wanted to make the biggest and flashiest dress that I could and Cardi B’s dress certainly got the most attention, so it made perfect sense to recreate that.
‘I took one look at it and I thought I would love to make that.
‘I started by doing the undercarriage and structure of the dress in clingfilm and then built the rest of the dress out of paper.
‘It’s very warm but I got a few paper cuts putting it on and I can’t walk in it. My parents literally had to dress me.’
As well as creating the incredible gown, Karina also put together a matching headpiece and decorative nails like the ones worn by Cardi B when she debuted the original outfit.
The duplicate dress won Karina the attention of Billy Porter, who shared it on his Instagram, the Met Museum which hosts the Met Gala, and Vogue, which featured the piece alongside nine other winners out of thousands of entries.
But while beautiful and extravagant, the paper frock was too impractical to wear or store, and so the fashion student has upcycled the entire thing in a piece of wall art – leaving only the headpiece and chest-piece as keepsakes.
Looking ahead to her next project, Karina has big ideas for her final year collection with plans to use the skills she picked up last year – while working under an internship at Saville Row, in the same workshop where famed-designer Alexander McQueen learned how to make suits.
‘A friend of mine sent me a screenshot of Billy Porter‘s Instagram and I couldn’t believe he had seen it,’ says Karina.
‘I knew when he posted it that hopefully something good was going to come my way and then Vogue asked me for permission to use my photos.
‘But when the Met Museum got in touch with me that was probably even more impressive than Vogue for me, because it has played host and featured so many famous fashion designers’ work over the years.
‘I’m really proud of myself for what I’ve achieved, I’m very ambitious and I have big plans for the future, I have so many more ideas that I can’t wait to share with the world once I graduate.’
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