SPIKY MIMICRY

Since 2016, London-based Gregory Kara has been crafting costumes and accessories for the likes of Grimes, Lady Gaga, P!nk, Nicky Minaj and many more. His stylistic focus could be best described as war-nymph aesthetic, and Kara's work predominantly includes facial accessories, oscillating between masks and headdresses, and also bodices or armour-like full-body pieces (and an occasional custom eyepatch for Madonna). Let us treat you to an exclusive interview with the artist below, including a truly uplifting parting message.

Gregory, please, tell us more about your past. When did you start your design career? 

My career in fashion first started as a professional makeup artist of 7 years, creating makeup looks for shows, magazines, music videos, celebrities and editorials. During the past 4 years, I have focused on working as a costume designer as I loved makeup but was eager for a new challenge.

As an artist, I wanted to explore and expand different ways to express my vision, thoughts and creativity. I used to spend multiple hours creating makeup looks that, in their nature, are impermanent. My work was focused on geometric sharp lines and symmetry, often creating embellishments and utilizing adornments to complete the look, so creating objects for the face was not unknown to me and these cross-transferable skills are something I still use to this very day to create my work and pieces.

Your design stands between jewellery and face coverings. Where does your fascination with face masks come from?

Creating on people’s faces for many years, I guess the face/head became a natural starting point for me to create work.

And the permanence of creating fashion pieces is still exciting to me, as they last forever, compared to makeup. I love to see how people’s different faces and characteristics look while wearing my work.

I don’t only create face pieces, though, as I don’t like to be limited in my creativity. For example, I also create clothes and outfits depending on the project/client’s needs and who I am working with.

Madonna is wearing my Custom Made Bondage Leather Glove for her new video clip of ‘FROZEN’

Do you ever struggle to balance the artistic value of the product and wearability?

It really depends on the product as designing comes with its own set of challenges, as the product needs to be functional while, at the same time, being able to fit well on multiple faces or body shapes. I take great care in developing designs to encompass all this, while also never compromising on the vision of what I am creating.

For example, the pieces I sell in my online store are wearable and easily used by my customers. However, one of the main design challenges with those comes from the material itself as most of my online items are made from metal, which requires specific skills and knowledge to design and create pieces that are comfortable, safe, wearable and adjustable.

Working with private clients and celebrities comes with unique challenges while designing these custom items. I always need to keep in mind the client themselves, their aesthetics, while keeping it unique/fresh and with my own viewpoint, and still figure out how to make the item comfortable depending on the requirements of the brief.

Could you guide us through your creative process?

Regarding my metal pieces, usually, I start with a mood theme, researching, finding images and seeing what inspires me and what I would like to explore further. Once I have collated my ideas, I start with sketching shapes, ideas, proportions, materials, and the feeling of the whole group of work /collection until I like the final shapes and designs.

Then comes the tricky part, which is the mockup – taking the design sketch from 2D to 3D, how does that work on the face, what adjustments are needed, etc. Sometimes, a design looks great on paper but once in 3D, it doesn’t feel quite right, so many adjustments are made to develop the design to its fullest. Then the design is translated into a digital file using a design application to digitize the sketch and prepare the data for the machinery to cut the metal. 

MGK wearing Metal Lip Cuff 001 on his video clip ‘Emo Girl’

The procedure can be time-consuming as I need to make sure the piece will work on the face/head and also that the shape and construction are correct before I cut the metal as there is little room for error. Once the metal is manufactured and cut out, the next stage is to work on the actual piece polishing and rounding of the corners to make sure they’re not very sharp, and so on. Then, once all the finishing and a bit of sewing is complete, the item is ready to be packed and sent to my customers. The items are finished by hand so this can take time, but I really want to assure people that when they place an order, they will be happy. At the end of the day, my customers really appreciate all the work that goes into my pieces.

You have worked with many celebrities so far. Do you have any special collab that you would like to highlight for us? 

Every collab and client brings their own uniqueness and set of challenges. I’ve worked with a number of celebrities all over the world but If I had to choose, I guess the highlight would be my collaboration with Madonna. She is such an icon and trailblazer and I admire her as an artist. I created multiple pieces for Madonna, including a custom jacket for the MTV global launch of the Medellin video clip or the gloves for her recent Frozen Remix video. If I had to choose my favourite bit, it would be the Madam X eyepatches I created for her. She was wearing them all the time and they kinda became iconic in their own right. The series received a lot of publicity. I came up with the idea of the eyepatch with an X as it was the Madam X character she was portraying and worked with her branding.

Swarovski X Crystal Leather Eyepatch for Madonna at ”Crave” Video Clip 2019

Are you preparing a new project we can look forward to this year?

Yes! I am super excited about things that I am currently working on and also some collaborations I am still waiting to be released. Hopefully, they will be out soon and I will be able to share them on my social media. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the projects, I am not able to share more with you. Also, I am working on my new collection that will come out in the next few months and will be very raw, very metal and very on-brand, which, I am sure, the people who follow my work will absolutely love! I can safely say this probably will be my best work!

Custom made Red Sash ‘Freedom’ for Yungblud Live Performance

Last question: What would a utopian society look like if you had the power to shape it?

A fearless, expressive, imaginative and diverse society that champions individuality and artistic expression. In today’s digital age, everyone is so focused on being famous and seen, often for no real reason apart from fame. And it saddens me to think that many people perceive their own worthiness based on their popularity on social media. Everyone has worth and everyone has something to offer the world. Imagine how exciting and exuberant the world would be if everyone loved themselves and each other more, and channeled their creativity? What would that create and what would that bring into the world ?

It sounds idealistic, I know, but hey! This is a utopian view after all. I would love to see a world focused on more acceptance and love – sociologically, environmentally and with ecological sustainability. We all have a role to play in this and that’s part of the reason I chose to create my face pieces in stainless steel as it’s one of the most recyclable materials on the planet and can be recycled indefinitely, without losing its integrity or quality.

Did you like it?
Share it with your friends

Bio

Gregory Kara is a London-based self-described “celebrity costume designer”, wardrobe director and visual artist.

www.gregorykara.com

Credits

Designer / Gregory Kara @thegregorykara

Interview / Kateřina Hynková

You may also like

Aleksandra Bokova’s works are a vivid answer to a post-Soviet upbringing. In her 3D art and animations, the acclaimed Belarusian artist explores disturbing feelings and perplexing emotions to overcome them, creating pieces that are equally relatable and confusing. Explore today’s feature to learn about her inspirations, and how she uses cutting-edge technology to project her vision.
London-based fashion designer Tanya Liu's intricate creations could be simply pigeonholed as ultimate mermaidcore – but they spring from much deeper sources. The pearlescent gradients and gently billowing silhouettes are rooted in the relationship between natural biology and post-human science, and mechanisms of endless life cycles of certain species. In the interview, we talk the bell of the immortal jellyfish, pivotal influences, and the scent of lavender.
What started out as impressions of the external world became the expression of an inner one. Valeria Weerasinghe’s creative trajectory has brought her from illustration to animation, and the acclaimed artist uses it now to reconnect with her heritage. Lose yourself in the deep hues and bold colors of today’s feature, accompanied by an intimate interview with Valeria about her process and inspirations.
Don't let the cheery colours fool you, the whimsical world of Latvian illustrator and object maker Inga Ziemele is chock-full of adorable danger and seedy characters. In the interview, Inga talks using art to work through the themes of self-acceptance and anxiety, bringing joy into people's lives, and professes her love for deceitfully cute bunnies.