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This designer makes elaborate costumes for drag queens and other stars like Madonna and Nicki Minaj

Garo Sparo designs elaborate costumes for drag queens, celebrities, and burlesque performers. He uses leather, lace, beads, and sequins to make one-of-a-kind outfits that help define these stars’ personalities. Sparo’s most high-profile clients include Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Miz Cracker, and Amanda Lepore, but he hopes that one day everyone will feel free to express themselves more creatively through fashion. Following is a transcript of the video.

Garo Sparo: I’ve worked with Miz Cracker, we did her finale look for “Drag Race.” Madonna, I’ve worked with her since I was like 22 years old. Nicki Minaj, Amanda Lepore, Lady Bunny, and another wonderful queen that I work with is Miss Fame. I did a lot of her finale looks.

We are a custom design studio. We pretty much create anything from stage wear to couture, to bridal, to gloves, hats, it’s pretty much a place where anything is possible. I would say anything from burlesque, to special effects, to movies, television, high fashion, couture, to anything that you could wrap your head around and just make fabulous, that’s our niche.

We will use anything from the most delicate lace, to the stiffest leather or moulded plastic. All sorts of just like, synthetics, because if you’re doing burlesque, you’re going to be dropping that thing on the floor nonstop, and you better be able to clean it.

The things that inspire my work, the first thing is the person that I’m designing around. I take their essence, and then I bring in where I come from and I get a lot of my inspiration from sci-fi, growing up with sci-fi as a kid. Nature never gets it wrong, which leads me to architecture, which is derived from nature. Fauna, dinosaurs, you name it, I can be inspired by the shape of a light bulb.

One of my favourite things are tear away looks. My technique is usually to make the most unexpected thing come off, or the person just pulls one little cord, and the entire thing just peels away to a completely other look that’s underneath it. This is for a burlesque performer named Eden Berlin, and I just loved it so much because I was thinking of some sort of flora from outer space and I really wanted her to reveal herself, and slowly spin and just like be blooming out of this insanely grey thing, and just sparkle. And then there’s layer after layer after layer under this.

One of the most challenging burlesque looks that I’ve done as of late is Gin Minsky, one of my favourite clients, she wanted to be a soft serve ice cream cone that peeled out of an actual physical ice cream cone. Had a waffle wrap, she comes out of her waffle wrap, she continues to take things off, amazing the audience until she ends up in nothing but what looks like melted pasties and a G string.

As much as I love to do stage wear and insane costumes, I would love to make it accessible to everybody out there. If you feel like dressing like a wasp woman, or what have you, one day, we’re all going to be able to dress however we feel inside. That will be my time to shine.

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