Theresa Dapra, accessory designer, artist and visionary combines charity with Carmen Miranda and Chiquita Banana into spectacular headpieces up for auction at this Friday’s Hearts of Gold “Fiesta Latina” Gala. For the inside scoop on the event click here. Her pieces have been seen on stars such as Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Robyn.Theresa was kind enough to chat with us for a few minutes about her distinctive design aesthetic, her favorite pieces, and her involvement with the Hearts of Gold.
Joonbug: Your pieces read a lot like art, more so even than accessories sometimes. What is evocative to you about wearable art? Would you consider displaying your pieces in a gallery versus at a fashion show?
Theresa: I actually do think of them more as wearable art, and for a long time I have wanted to curate some kind of event at a gallery to display them as art pieces. I think they would be well-portrayed in that environment, as opposed to in a fashion show. Even though I think that a fashion show would be an interesting platform for them because there is a lot that could be worked with there. I think a gallery would be a really unique and different way to present my accessories. Especially since they are accessories and could be considered fashion, it’s almost a different take on fashion by putting it in an art space.
Joonbug: Yea, that would be amazing! We would love to cover the event when it happens!
Theresa: Well I will keep you posted!
Joonbug: Where do you get most of your inspiration from?
Theresa: It really varies. It never comes from fashion, or very seldom does it. Sometimes it is, you know, the sea. I pull a lot of inspiration from Atlantis, kind of old-timey mythologies, it could be a horror film or a comic book. There are a lot of super hero and villain outfits that definitely inspire me, so it is a wide range.
Joonbug: For the pieces that you did for Fiesta Latina, where were you drawing your inspiration from?
Theresa: From Carmen Miranda! She really brought a lot out in me. Looking at photos of her and the Chiquita banana phenomenon, and just that era where the clothes, the garments, the headpieces were so beautifully crafted and also again more of the art pieces than actually fashion accessory. So I drew a lot of inspiration from her, and I was trying to channel her in the pieces that I did for the event.
Joonbug: That sounds exciting! We haven’t actually seen the pieces yet. So now we really can’t wait to see them on Friday. Do you have a target customer? Do you create pieces with customers in mind?
Theresa: I do and I don’t. I would say it would be that I do have a target audience in the back of my head. But I also do a lot of pieces that come from within. You know, I’m inspired to make. I kind of feel like a lot of my pieces are good for people who are adventurous, they are going to a red carpet event or maybe something in nightlife, or they too feel inspired to have this one stand-out costume piece that’s going to make their whole outfit. And I think that there is a wide range of people like that. Sometimes I feel that it could be a woman on the Upper East Side, the kooky old lady who wants to wear a fox head when she goes to the grocery store or a model that goes out downtown. I think there’s a wide range there.
Joonbug: It sounds to us that you are very inspired by the street style or fashion of New York City, just from your description of neighborhoods, and your idea that your customer is somebody who lives in a New York City neighborhood.
Theresa: Well I also think it is definitely a big city idea that I have. Whether it is New York, or it could be London or Berlin; it is just people who are adventurous and like to take risks. They like to get into a theme on a daily basis. That’s how I am. I feel inspired a certain way, and different way every day. And to have a custom-made piece to put on and that kind of gets you in the right head space and makes you feel glamorous and inspired throughout the day.
Joonbug: Definitely! What are your favorite materials to work with?
Theresa: Well I love my goat hair!
Joonbug: We noticed!
Theresa: I love working with goat hair. I also love working with eel skin, it’s a really interesting leathery material. Some leather can be really thick, and not really malleable. But this has some of the patent leather quality as far as the sheen but it is not the typical leather to work with. It is very thin and you can really do a lot with it. I don’t always work with animal parts besides the eel skin and goat hair, but sometimes it is fun to work with skulls and bones. But I do try to keep that to a minimum.
Joonbug: How did you get involved with Hearts of Gold?
Theresa: I got involved with Hearts of Gold through one of the directors of development, Beatrice Seravello. She approached me about this event and asked me if I would be interested in either donating some of my pieces that were already made or if I would be willing to make some pieces. I felt like it was more festive to make pieces specifically for this event. This is very different from what I normally make, this “Fiesta Latina” theme, you know and the extravagance, flowers and fruit headpieces. So I thought “Why not make something custom for them instead of donating something that I already have?”
Joonbug: And it sounds like a really fun concept! What was inspiring to you about their mission that made you want to participate?
Theresa: Well I think that the mission of Hearts of Gold is really important. My heart goes out to mothers in need. I am happy to donate my time and services to a charity event that is about getting moms on their feet, because I can’t imagine how difficult that is and I am happy to help.
Joonbug: Is there anything that you are specifically excited about for Friday’s event?
Theresa: I am really excited about the fashion show. The gala, there’s gonna be a lot going on, raising money for the organization and the dinner, and an auction. But I am definitely the most excited for the fashion show and to see how they have cultivated all of the pieces that are going to be displayed in the show.
Joonbug: We only have one more question, and it is to ask if you have a favorite piece in any of the collections you have made. We have gone through all of your collections and they are all so different, so we wanted to know if there was something that stood out to you as the epitome of the style that you go for? Is there just something that you felt particularly passionate about when you were making it?
Theresa: Oh! That is a really great question! It is very hard to pick. I would say that most recently, one of my favorite pieces that I am really excited about is the Champagne Powder Goat Hair Harness. It has the two panels of goat hair in the front, and then the back is more like a bondage harness. I really love that piece and I feel that a lot of different people could really wear that piece and turn their outfits out with it. It could go over a coat, it could go over a shirt, you could be topless wearing it if you were that daring. I think it is pretty versatile, but still really elegant and still has a bit of an edginess to it. You know, it is soft and edgy at the same time and I like the juxtaposition of the ethereal and the attitude that it has.
Joonbug: It is really amazing to listen to you talk about your pieces, because you talk about them in such an inspiring and passionate way. We are excited to see what you made for the event, and thank you for taking the time to talk to us!
Theresa: Thank you! It was great to chat with you!
You can check you Theresa’s impressive work on her website. Her provocative and one-of-a-kind pieces will surely be a hot commodity at the auction this Friday night! Theresa's vision shines through her work, as well as through the passionate way she describes her work; we can't to see what she has created!