Interview with Aurelio Costarella about Unveiled

Video | Updated 3 years ago

This interview was taken with world renowned fashion designer Aurelio Costarella about the exhibition Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Glamour, his reflections on the exhibition, and his thoughts on the inclusion of one of his pieces into the Western Australian Museum's permenant collection.


Ok, you’ve been through Unveiled – give us your thoughts on the collection.

It’s exquisite. It was, it’s so much more than I than I even imagined it would be.  Just seeing such a vast collection of gowns from the 1840s through to contemporary pieces is just such a magical experience.

It is truly wonderful, isn’t it. What are the standout items for you, and why please?

I have several favourites for different reasons. The very early pieces from the 1840s just because, as a designer, I really appreciate the workmanship that has gone into them, and using such simple cloths, if you like - the muslins and the very plain silks – but the hand embroidery in them is just exquisite. And then through to the Worth piece, with just the incredible bead work on the front is quite phenomenal. And then more of the contemporary pieces - the Dita Von Teese’s gown which is great - and the Mr Pearl corset,  because I’m obviously a huge fan of corsetry myself, so I really appreciate the work that’s gone into that.

And I think you mentioned the Lecroix.

The Lacroix I love. I was lucky enough to see a retrospective of his work in Paris a few years ago and he was always a favourite of mine when I started my career. So to actually have a Lacroix piece here at the museum is quite phenomenal.

So why do you think it’s important that museums host collections in fashion?

Because it’s not something we get to see often unless we’re fortunate enough to travel and visit museums around the world. We don’t have exhibitions like this in Perth that often, so it’s very important. And from a cultural perspective, I mean, to track the history on something like a wedding gown from the 1800s right through, I mean, the diversity and the silhouettes and the fabrications and the… just really looking at it from a cultural perspective and how trends have changed, it is really very important, I think, for people to be able to witness something like this.

So it’s more than just the gown, isn’t it. It’s not just the piece or the item of clothing, it’s what they represent and the stories and the history that they tell.

Well that’s the wonderful thing about it. I mean each of these pieces has such an incredible history and very much so, depending on when it was created, it obviously, it has its own story to tell. So rather than actually just coming in and looking at the pieces from a visual perspective, it’s really important to obviously learn a little bit more about how they came to be and why they are so symbolic of that era.

You created a very special gown that we’ve got on display as part of this collection. Tell us about that.

It was a piece that was created for my Spring Summer 12-13 collection. The jacket is actually very much Victorian inspired. So, it’s, I’ve called it the Napoleon jacket and it is panelled corseted piece with a, with a bustle, so it is very reminiscent of some of the early 1900 pieces. And the skirt accompanying that is a full length quite a full skirt with layers and layers of silk ruffles. Very, very time consuming piece.

I can imagine it would have been. Why were you keen to have it as part of this exhibition?

Well, obviously, having a piece represented alongside this body of work was wonderful. But to have a piece that has actually been acquired by the WA Museum was really important for me as well – given that I’m coming up to celebrating my 30th year in the industry next year it was, it was great that – to have a piece that is part of the permanent collection here now is really important to me.

Excellent. Ok, so from your perspective what would you; why should people come here to see this collection and this exhibition? And what would you like them to take away with them in their hearts and minds?

Well, apart from the fact that it’s such a visually exciting exhibition - the team here at the WA Museum have just created the most incredible space. So, it’s not just about the individual pieces but it’s about, really, an experience. And taking away pieces of history, and I think it’s something that’s really quite memorable.

Aurelio Costarella, thank you so much for your time we really appreciate it.

Thank you, thank you.