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GHOST designer kicks off month of RVA fashion

EDITOR’S NOTE: WTVR.com is partnering with the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project at VCU’s School of Mass Communications. Students from the project reported the following story.

By Dana Carlson and Emily Satchell (Special to WTVR.com)

RICHMOND, Va. – Starting spring with an exhibition that blurred the lines between art and fashion, local designer Angela Bacskocky geared up Richmond for a month full of events targeting the arts and fashion community. Bacskocky shared her fashion performance GHOST at Middle of Broad Gallery on the eve of RVA Fashion Week, which kicks off later this month.

“I feel like right now is a really hot, appeasing time to be an artist in Richmond,” Bacskocky said. The 33-year-old VCU fashion design alumna, whose design history includes studying at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and and Design in London as well as internships with renowned designers such as the late Alexander McQueen and Felder Felder, creates fashion exhibitions that also involve fine arts.

“There are so many working artists in this city, although we are supposed to having this resurgence, it would be great to get more attention,” said Bacskocky at her exhibition in downtown Richmond last Friday. Previously sharing collections in Paris for McQueen, Bacskocky added that she is hopeful what Richmond has to offer as an arts locale will resonate in larger design communities like New York.

Last spring, Bacskocky raised $4,000 through the fundraising platform Kickstarter to finance her debut clothing line and premier avant garde art show. She now used it again for her second line.

“Friends of mine suggested Kickstarter,” said Bacskocky, who found that the platform allowed her product to be exposed to people who may not ordinarily see it. The success of her first line NEST, which focused on concepts of isolation and hibernation, allowed Bacskocky to share her work at RVA Fashion Week. The collection was then picked up by the local boutique Need Supply Co. When Bacskocky was featured in the retailers’ Meet the Maker blog series, she was even able to gain more exposure for her brand.

While immersed in her first collection, Bacskocky found herself contemplating her next design series. “I was working on NEST, sewing, working everyday, and not sleeping and throwing myself into it and I suddenly was overcome with a strong feeling, like a really strong memory of a sad instance that I hadn’t thought of in years,” Bacskocky said.

The concept for her latest fashion installation GHOST was born from the idea of capturing moments, described by Bacskocky as “those moments when you’re overcome with a memory that you can’t forget, even if you think that you buried it deep down, it comes back up.”

Revisiting the Kickstarter platform, Bacskocky launched her second fundraising campaign Feb. 20 to cover the expense of raw materials, exhibition expenses and the cost of clothing production. GHOST reached the pledged goal of $4,000 just one week before the opening of the one-part interactive art experience and one-part fashion performance.

In preparation for the exhibition, Bacskocky also functioned as an art curator by carefully selecting submissions from artists whose work coincided with her vision for GHOST. Artwork of painters Heide Trepanier and Jack Lawrence, photographers Kimberly Frost and Sarah Walor, textile artist Michael Birch Pierce, illustrator Will Godwin and others harmonized with mixed music to create a theatrical backdrop for the clothing line.

“Angela is young; she is in some ways unprecedented as far as what she is trying to do here, and it is in our mission to facilitate that,” said John Malinoski, an associate professor of graphic design at VCU and a director at Middle of Broad Gallery which is a cooperative between VCU design programs and is pioneering a program to engage students with local communities, organizations and businesses.

“We like to incubate things. We like to foster the growth of young designers,” Malinoski said. “It’s her gig, but we can at least provide the space and some resources for it.” Middle of Broad Gallery also has a partnership with Storefront for Community Design, a non-profit that helps to facilitate projects for individuals like Bacskocky.

Bacskocky said she wanted visitors of her exhibition to feel more of a connection with the clothes and the environment than what can be achieved from a typical runway show. Several paintings served as the exhibition’s background, each paying  its own tribute to the GHOST theme. Models posed on platforms around which attendants could navigate to inspect the clothing and experience fashion differently.

“You get an up-close feel of the clothing … up close and personal instead of just catching a glimpse,” said visitor Quiana Ingram. “I love the collection. I more so enjoy the way she has displayed the collection;  it’s more of an art form.

“Events like these are a great platform to network and meet other great artistic minds in the Richmond area,” Ingram added.

Bacskocky is currently wrapping up the production of a short film that compiles themes from GHOST. She is considering hosting a trunk show for the clothing in a retail space where she will show the film as a sales promotion.

While GHOST warranted many inquiries about purchasing clothing items as Bacskocky makes items available on her website, her next pursuit is showing her upcoming line in New York in September. And she is also contemplating applying for the television series, Project Runway, to represent Richmond in the next design competition.

This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s School of Mass Communications.

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