A designer who makes red-carpet statements with ‘garbage’

Paris, Nov 22 (IANS) At international red carpet galas, where the creme de la creme of international showbiz step out in bespoke designer ensembles, Larisa Katz makes heads turn with her penchant for turning “garbage” into haute “art” couture. It is her way of creating awareness on global environmental and waste problems.

The designer, based in Germany, uses cookie packaging, plastic spoons, empty plastic soft drink bottles and biscuit packaging to make her point.

Does she consider it a social responsibility as a designer?

“Well, social responsibility doesn’t mean we have to clean the mess. That’s the government’s responsibility to try to create a possibility to recycle things on a big scale. As artists, we can only bring awareness and can only signalise the problem by saying, ‘Hey, you can also do creative things with garbage instead of just discarding it’,” Katz told IANS here.

“For me, it was like making a statement on the red carpet and say, ‘Hey, you guys are wearing Cashmere, silk, Swarovski and diamonds, and I’ve come here wearing trash. But because I am creative, I make trash look stylish’.

“For me, it’s about giving expression to creativity, and you can be noted even if you wear garbage,” added the out-of-the box thinker, who essentially creates wearable art for advertising and film productions.

Originally a painter, who used to do portraits, Katz says she came into fashion “by mistake” when a person saw her wearing one of her “crazy outfits” and offered her the task of designing for a photoshoot.

Katz has, in the past, grabbed eyeballs at the globally popular Cannes Film Festival, where she sashayed down the red carpet wearing a creation made by using biscuit trays, and another using what seems like flattened cake pans. At other events, she has flaunted innovative ensembles using plastic bottles, spoons, LED lights and more.

A shiny dress that Katz wore at the Cannes gala earlier this year, was created after her visit to India in 2015.

“It looks like marigold, the flowers you use in India for puja. If you look at the dress closely, you will see the form is a reminder of the marigold,” said the designer, who visited Delhi, Haridwar and Rishikesh during her India sojourn.

As an environmentally conscious person, she said that while she loved India for some of the quiet areas she explored, the polluted air was a disappointment.

“Delhi’s air is not good. In Rishikesh, the air is good, and Mussoorie is also nice. I hope your government will solve the problem of pollution… Don’t know how long it will take them,” Katz told this IANS correspondent at the French European India Fashion Week held here recently.

Keen to visit India again, she said: “The air is bad for the people. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, but you are all breathing bad air. When you are living there, I guess you are used to not having a blue sky. But for us, we were always looking out for blue sky during our three-week stay. Hopefully, the government does something.”

(Radhika Bhirani was in Paris at the invitation of the French European India Fashion Week. She can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)