There is no doubt that Lady GaGa would give her bejewelled right arm to wear one of these sparkling dresses or corsets. But she'd be in for a shock if she tried! In 'Dare to Wear: Glass Dresses by Diana Dias-Leão' the dresses are made from glass and the corsets are made from real barbed-wire, entwined with beads or flowers. Diana told me that people have asked about buying these dresses and corsets to wear, but she has to tell them that they are purely 'couture sculpture'. She makes all her creations at home rather than in a studio and once injured herself while working on a corset - she only realised when she looked down and saw the blood. Fashion can definitely be deadly!
Each dress is unique and they seem to have their own identity - an idea that Diana is keen for visitors to take on board themselves. She wants to use the dresses to show people that it is not the image, but the person that is most important. Getting a sense of your own identity must surely be part of that. I'm sure many artists have a strong connection with their work, but it was interesting to hear Diana referring to her corsets and dresses as 'she' and 'her'. It seems these pieces have so much personality they have almost taken on a life of their own!
Diana's attention to detail in getting her message across is also interesting. Not only do you get a sense of the danger of judging people by their appearance alone, you also see evidence of Diana's views about people often being treated simply as 'pieces of meat'. Instead of using conventional materials for hanging her corsets, she has used immaculate metal meat hooks and chains. This isn't gruesome, but is instead quite a subtle touch that seems to fit in seamlessly with the display of shimmering glass.
This is a truly original display so do head down to the Craft and Design gallery on the ground floor of the Walker Art Gallery to have a look for yourself. The display will run from 27 March to 30 September 2011 and is free.