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Wide Eyes: Miss Angela Bacskocky
Profile of a Bohemian Fashion Designer
By Sean O'Hara and Jeff Ocampo of Wide Eyes
Join us for a closer look into the creation of a fashion line with Angela Bacskocky and her line, Nest.
Jeff and I meet Angela Bacskocky outside of an old uniform factory in Scott's Addition, a neighborhood in Northside Richmond, Virginia. I see her dog Glory has been waiting on the other side of the glass door. We head up the staircase past scooters, bicycles, and what looks like a papier-mâché canoe. Her studio is spacious. She shares it with a few other artists. Angela shows me around and I see remnants of everyone’s various projects. It is certainly a used space.
As we walk to her end of this community work area, there is a giant nest in the middle of the room. I investigate it as she starts to tell me about her work. There must be thousands of sticks and branches fastened together in layers. The base is brick and stone. There are pieces of metal scattered here and there. The space in the middle is large enough to fit a person. I want to crawl inside it. I pull myself away and look around. There are bundles of sticks that have yet to make the nest. There are tables full of bones, skulls, bird feathers, and scraps of fur pinned on the walls. I should mention that the walls are covered in aluminum foil. I wonder if this is a nod to Andy Warhol. She catches me looking and confirms that it is indeed a tip of hat to Warhol. Behind the nest there is a leather couch that I would imagine would be sitting in a law firm in the 1920’s.
I walk to the hangers holding her garments. The construction shows the work of a practiced hand. Wool, leather, and silk make up the pieces that I look through. For something so well constructed, they also look comfortable There is something prestigious about leather and fur that can’t be mimicked with substitutes. The colors are warm to me. Not in a summer sort of way but in the way you seek warmth in the dead of winter.
I follow her into a room filled with sunlight. The walls have clippings from magazines, inspirational pictures, accessory pieces, feathered headdresses, and scraps of fabric layered over each other and pinned over sketches. There are a racks of various furs and sheered wool. A mannequin is wearing a jacket she is finishing. There are a few sewing machines and some small tables where custom jewelry is laying. She shows me how the jewelry goes over the ears of her models. It looks like an industrial version of some indigenous people’s headwear from the Bronze Age. We take seats at her work bench.
She talks to me about her work in fashion. Her resume is impressive. She studied at VCU, lived and studied at Central St. Martins in London, worked for a London tailor, interned at Alexander McQueen and Felder Felder. This is not her first line. I have seen some of her Hungarian collection and it is pretty extraordinary. She goes on to the idea for Nest.
It started in a winter of depression. She found herself in a dark place. Instead of trying to pull herself out of it, she decided to follow the rabbit hole to the bottom. She relives all those feelings and memories of that depression and I nod with a true knowing. I have been there. The cold of winter settles in my bones and seems to freeze happiness. So the Nest for her is that place we build in our minds. To hide, to seek shelter, to isolate ourselves from the world. We as animals forage and surround ourselves with the pieces of our life. The sturdy wood and metal keep us inside.
I turn around to look at the Nest. I see it as the symbol it is now. There is no kitsch to it, it is not a novelty item. It is a structure of isolation. She goes on to explain that the pieces all center around this idea of the Nest. The constructing and deconstructing of it, the materials she has used are things that you would find in nature. She tells me about her collaborators. There are sculptors, an intern that is working on the jewelry, she has a friend making shoes for her models, people help her gather materials and execute her ideas. It has turned into something else. It has become a community project. It has become a project of love and joy to work on with people who share her vision. It is a project that seems to change every time I look at it.
To some, Angela’s work is a fashion line. To others, it is a multi media art installation. To her it seems it is catharsis. She has turned an intimate time of despair into a wonderful work of wearable and watchable art. If art is meant to affect you on some deeper level, then her work is absolutely art. I am haunted by some of the ideas, but I am moved by the process. I find Angela Bacskocky fascinating and lovely. She can explain this fully realized idea and punctuate it with a self-deprecating comment and a smile that cools off the moment.
Angela appeared on an episode of "Project Runway" this summer and showed at New York Fashion Market Week in September.
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