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Christina Kaputsos' Fantastical Bird of Prey
By Christine Stoddard
Designer/illustrator Christina Kaputsos of Tyto Studio, an imaginative firm based in Maryland, recently gave her tablet a rest and fashioned this beautiful Owl Maiden dress with her own hands. To anyone familiar with Christina's work, the dress should come as no real surprise. The 24-year-old has a history of making bridal gowns and infusing her creations with folkloric motifs.
But let's Christina do the talking, shall we? Quail Bell could not resist asking Christina four quick questions about her Owl Maiden garment:
Photos courtesy of Tyto Studio
1. What an intriguing idea! How did you decide upon an Owl Maiden dress? Is there any special significance in the name?
All of my paper garment work is 100% paper. The Owl Maiden Dress uses paper that I hand painted with Sumi ink.
Every paper garment I make depicts a spirit animal. When the model wears the garment, they will embody the qualities of that animal, thus the garment becomes a type of spiritual armor.
In Native American tradition, it is believed that at one time plants, animals, and humans all spoke the same language. The humans however got "cocky" and thought they were better than the plants and the animals. The animals and plants did not tolerate this thinking, so they cut humans off from their common language. As such, plants, animals, and humans could no longer speak to one another as they used to.
However, animals still constantly show humans signs and symbols through their appearance and body language. In many cultures the owl is seen as the messenger of the spirits, symbol of the unknown, and the keeper of knowledge. In addition, the owl is most depicted as being a female energy.
The Owl Dress embodies the spirit of the owl. She controls what knowledge humans have. She wears a headdress to keep all of the knowledge and secrets of the world in her body--if she were to remove her helmet all the knowledge of this world and the spirit world would be learned by the humans. The owl must keep the balance between the worlds by regulating what the humans learn.
Each one of the owl's feathers on her dress represents knowledge. As she walks down the runway (i.e., the passage of time), she hands out bouquets made from groupings of her feathers to spectators in the crowd. Each feather is inscribed with words of wisdom and inspiring sayings.
Her arms, talons and neck are covered in ink to represent what has yet to be written and shared.
The bodice of her dress mimics the armor of the Goddess Athena, whose consort is the owl.
The bodice depicts the owl face, its eyes bright and keeping watch over humanity and the spirit world.
The owl is both a graceful but fierce creature; you never want to get too close as she is unpredictable.
2. How long did you labor away on this gorgeous thing?
It took 80 hours to complete--but it was well worth it.
3. What other sorts of beautiful gowns have you made?
To view more of my garments you can check out this link: http://www.tytostudio.com/#!paper/civu
My work has been in a few fashion shows over the past few years. Most recently my paper garment work--the Owl Maiden dress, in fact--was featured in a show at the Baltimore Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of their contemporary wing.
I also have designed paper garments for brides and private commissions. After the wedding, brides who have worn my pieces have cut portions from the dress and framed them as a way to preserve the moment and the design. By framing the garment after wear the garment has a longer life and can be integrated into normal home decor.
4. What do you think lies in your (near) fashion future? What are your current plans?
Possibly a bridal show in 2013 and of course commissions. All my garments incorporate special symbolisms in the design that are specific and meaningful to the bride/commission, so it really depends on what commissions I will be doing in the near future.