13 July 2020
Discarded electrical wires. Charity shop beach towels. Surplus fabrics from Romanian factories. These are some of the materials woven together in young designer Alexandra Sipa’s graduate collection, “Romanian Camouflage”. Created using a hybrid method drawing on both traditional Romanian lace-making and more conventional techniques, Sipa’s dense and delicate creations explore the possibility of discarded fragments of culture and material to be refashioned into radically new forms. Intensely tactile and full of sprawling details best seen up close, Sipa’s creations were well-suited to the digital format.
The idea was born out of a happy accident. “I was researching for my sustainability project for school, and my headphones broke,” says Sipa, who was in her second year at Central Saint Martins in London at the time. “I noticed the wires inside were so colorful. It was also the fifth time I broke my headphones that year, so I wanted to find a way to reuse them and thought about creating a fabric out of them.” Sipa developed the concept, eventually incorporating it into her graduate collection this year, the results of which included a spellbinding A-line dress that took more than 1,000 hours to make.
For Sipa, it’s important that her work is “grounded in something real,” which is why her Romanian heritage plays a significant role in her work.
“Conceptually the collection was driven by the contrast between the heightened austerity and extreme femininity in Romania,” she says. On a more personal level, Sipa was also drawn to incorporating waste into her work after watching the way her grandmother would “use whatever she had to make art or decorate her home.”
The collection is also a chance for Sipa to “show a side of Romania that hasn’t been shown that much: a prosperous, rich, and beautiful side full of opportunities.”