Think high fashion is a load of rubbish? You’re not alone. This week, social media was ablaze with comments about a black Jacquard Sleeveless Balloon Shirt Dress made by fashion company Nu.
A steal at £242.50 (down from £485), it bore an unfortunate resemblance to a bin bag. But can you really make an outfit from a bin bag?
Two of the UK’s most eminent fashion designers rose to the challenge. Jacques Azagury has dressed the likes of Helen Mirren, Kelly Brook, Helen McCrory, Amanda Holden and Princess Diana. He sketched two designs exclusively for the Mail, which he kindly gave us permission to try to make.
And Caroline Castigliano, who has been at the forefront of luxury bridal and eveningwear for 30 years, fashioned a bin-bag dress on a mannequin.
We also asked Wendy Benstead, a bespoke bridalwear and costume maker, to recreate designer outfits using only bin bags. CLAIRE COLEMAN reports.
Designer: Jacques Azagury
He says: This is the first time that I’ve ever designed outfits using bin bags as my medium but I didn’t want to make the designs too ornate. After all, if you’re going to use a bin bag, make it look like a bin bag.
And I thought that because you can get them with coloured ties, I’d work that idea into the design. The ties are essential to give definition, and a bit of styling so it doesn’t look rubbish!
Recycled: Claire wears off-theshoulder style created from Jacques Azagury’s sketch (above right)
I worked with the idea of using one bin bag for the off-the-shoulder style and three to create the design with sleeves.
I think it is all about the volume — you need that volume to make it anything, and if you were trying to make it skintight, it would just tear.
If you’re a designer making a voluminous dress out of a shiny black fabric, there’s an inevitability that it’s going to get compared to a bin bag.
I recall I once made dresses out of a very silver panne velvet, and one was worn on television by a celebrity.
The next day everyone was talking about baking foil. But someone talking about your dress is always a good thing — if that Nu design hadn’t been compared to a bin bag, who would have seen it?
Jacques Azagury dresses made for Femail by Catharina Eden (my-eden.co.uk).
High volume: Jacques’ sketch (left) and the reality (right). He says: ‘I worked with the idea of using one bin bag for the off-the-shoulder style and three to create the design with sleeves’
Designer: Caroline Castigliano
I decided to create the bubble skirt with the pick-ups that are pinned
She says: ‘How do you use a plastic bag and make it look nice? It is very thin and floppy, there’s no substance or structure to it, which was why I had to think about how to give the design an interesting shape.
I decided to create the bubble skirt with the pick-ups that are pinned. Teaming that skirt, which has so much texture, with a fitted bodice creates a good balance because you have the fit and the flare.
It’s a tricky material to work with. When you make a dress, you press it as you make it, but you can’t do that with a bin bag.
The perforations caused by sewing it make it very weak and it would very easily stretch out of shape if you sit down in it. You could try taping the seams but it would be very difficult to get a good finish.
I’m not sure this is something I’ll be trying again.
Put it this way, it’s not going to be in the next collection!’
And how Hollywood seamstress copied these expensive styles
Designer: Wendy Benstead
Wendy is the creative director of her own company Wendy Benstead: Costume And Clothing, which makes costumes for Netflix and Hollywood blockbusters, and for stars including Paloma Faith and Leona Lewis.
She recreated four designer outfits out of bin bags: a Marchesa gown on sale for £10,345; a Dolce & Gabbana mini dress, £6,150; a Valentino mini dress, £1,790; and a Galvan jumpsuit, £995.
She says: We looked at the pre-existing design of the clothes and worked, using bin liners as material, to try to recreate them in a wearable way.
Majestic: Marchesa gown (above) on sale for £10,345 and (right) the bin-bag copy
Take a bow: Pink Valentino mini dress, £1,790 and the Wendy Benstead version
Disco vibe: The Galvan jumpsuit, £995 (right) and the bin-bag recreation (left)
Tickled pink: Dolce & Gabbana feather embellished mini dress, £6,150, and (right) Wendy Benstead’s bin-bag equivalent
Because bin liners are plastic they don’t behave like fabric. That means you don’t get the same drape that you would with a woven fabric, but it also means you can cut it in any direction.
As a material, it’s quite weak, and when you stitch with it — which is what we’ve done — you create weak points where it could rip.
On the plus side, it’s very malleable — it’s lightweight and very scrunchable so you can use a lot of it to create bulk and not get weighed down by it — and, of course, it’s waterproof!
The bin-bag version of the Dolce & Gabbana feather-embellished mini dress has been successful. In the right setting you wouldn’t know it wasn’t a couture piece.