CCS Shows Strong in Beyond the Armor Competition

Bridgett Sullivan Dress1

Bridgett Sullivan DressBridget Sullivan's (’12 Crafts) dress sportes a stunning bodice made of kozo.
Sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and the Detroit Garment Group Guild (DG3), the “Beyond the Armor” competition challenged local designers to create a complete outfit based on artworks in the current exhibition, Samurai: Beyond the Sword. The competition is inspired by the exhibition’s emphasis on the role of the Samurai in Japanese society as warriors but also as representatives of the military arts who engaged the cultural, spiritual and art worlds of their time.

Dozens of designers submitted entries, which were narrowed down to ten finalists.

Bonnie Pearce (’15 Crafts); Bridget Sullivan (’12 Crafts); and Deanna Zapico (’85 Advertising Design) were among the ten finalists in the “Beyond the Armor” competition. Together, this CCS student and two alumnae account for nearly one-third of the final competitors.

Pearce, a CCS junior who previously studied fashion at Columbia College in Chicago, wanted to create “wearable sculpture” using multiple materials to bring her garment to life. Based on the mythological goddess of war figure, the dress required nearly 300 hours of work and featured a tooled leather and metalwork bodice and a skirt featuring four hand-painted panels based on earth, wind, fire and water.

Deanna ZapicoDeanna Zapico (’85 Advertising Design)
“It’s a huge opportunity for me,” said Pearce, “whether I win or not.”

Alumna Bridget Sullivan works as a fabric designer for the Lear Corporation and has had designs featured in numerous publications, including Glamour Magazine and Huffington Post. Her fashions have also been worn by Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding.

Inspired by the symbolism of the crane, Sullivan’s garment sported a stunning bodice made of kozo, a material traditionally used in Japanese papermaking. The kozo bodice, or armor, was cooked, beaten with a mallet and sculpted into shape before being painted with gold leaf and metallic paint.

“I designed the crane dress specifically for a talented dancer named Destiny,” explained Sullivan. “I was inspired by the Samurai practice of balancing bun (arts) and bu (war). This reminded me of the beautiful blend of strength and grace in ballet, as well as the delicate power of the crane.”

Deanna Zapico, who designs bespoke wedding gowns, is no stranger to creating costumes. A former advertising art director, Zapico has worked extensively in the movie industry as a tailor and wardrobe stylist. She has also travelled in Japan and said that many of her designs are influenced by a Japanese aesthetic. Zapico’s dress featured a black leather breastplate and chainmail sleeves over a dramatic hand-painted red silk skirt.

“My main objective was to create an outfit that showed this dichotomy [between war and art] and was visually arresting and desirable at the same time,” said Zapico.

Bonnie PearceBonnie Pearce (’15 Crafts)
The three women, along with the other finalists, displayed their creations at three metro-Detroit locations. The dresses were featured in a grand finale fashion show at the DIA on May 17.

Samurai: Beyond the Sword is on view through June 1, 2014.