>> Wendy Tremayne (
gaiatreehouse.com) is renovating an RV park into a
100% reuse off-grid B&B in Truth or Consequences, N.M. Another project,
swaporamarama.org), is a clothing swap and DIY
workshop designed to offer people an alternative to consumerism.
Between 50 and 100 bras clutter Itsi
Atkins’ New York City apartment. Ranging
in size from 32A to 50I, many of them have
been transformed from underwear to outerwear
and now await contents to fill their cups and a shoulder
to carry them away. These bras have become handbags, backpacks, and water bottle holders.
The leap from undergarment to purse is not arbitrary. The bra and the handbag, Atkins explains,
have three common and necessary design characteristics: structure, shape, and style. Both items
have one primary purpose: to hold. Accordingly,
“A perfect bra creates a perfect bag,” he says.
Atkins’ “flash fashion” can be found on the famous
shoulders of Hollywood stars such as Carol Channing, Helen Mirren, and Leelee Sobieski, to name
a few. He relishes the cleverness of the pun, and
describes his designs as a coming together of
social and political statements merged with popular
culture, typified in his recent Paris Hilton ankle
bracelet purse. The handbag, he explains, “is like a
small moving billboard as it is carried around town.”
Once a maker views the bra as a creative material, a world of possibility opens. Bras can be found
in seemingly endless patterns, textures, and colors.
Adorned with thematic accoutrements, they satisfy
people of all sizes and temperaments. The various
types of bras offer built-in design possibilities.
Under-wire bras make great water bottle holders,
while very large bras transform into useful backpacks, and silky bras convert to fancy evening bags.
Atkins invites us to look at the bra with new eyes.
He sees a garment whose structure, design, and
ornamentation is like no other. And he points out
that the bra’s utilitarian applications have hardly
been explored. With a snicker, Atkins invites the
maker to take to the street an article of clothing that
at one time might have held the image of their libido.
Two of Itsi Atkins’ bras gone bag.