Avant-Garde Fashion: Condom Couture

Condom Couture

Designers are always thinking of new materials for clothing to enhance their designs. But, how about clothing made from condoms? No, not used! Many of the condoms used to create designs are made from quality tested, rejected condoms that may have defects. Why throw them away when we can recycle them!

I wanted to know who actually designs these dresses?

The answer to that question lies in the name, Adriana Bertini. She is a Brazilian artist who helps to promote aids awareness and safe sex. She is an activist who worked for Greenpeace for 10 years.  When she left, she worked for a volunteer program where once a week, she taught theater to children living with HIV. She states there there really wasn’t one thing that led her to say, “I’m going to make clothes out of condoms.” She said it started when somebody gave her a box with 144 condoms. Just leaving Greenpeace, she was very aware of the environmental aspect of it; what we do with this material and if it is biodegradable or not. She started researching the actual material and partnered with manufacturers and importers of condoms.
Adriana Bertini: Condom Couture

Why are condom dresses made and worn overseas?

The U.S. understands the condoms are an approved form of contraceptive. They are widely accepted with the use of their positive image used in advertising efforts. When Adriana Bertini went to Senegal, she found that people could not recognize the material used as condoms. This reminds us of the unfamiliarity of many localities with condoms and safe sex and the difficulties in talking about these issues in some cultural settings. Adriana Bertini is using condom dresses as a new language to speak to young people about AIDS. Art has the capacity to transform and create dialogue between the objects and different groups which view it. In other countries, their social behavior towards condoms is next to none. Since safe sex is hardly practiced in such countries as Africa, her fashions are a way of promoting safe sex through visual appeal.

How many condoms does it take to make one dress?

20,000 to 100,000 condoms come into Adriana’s studio every month to be colored, stretched, and cut. Bertini has developed 40 types of cutting techniques and special natural dyeing processes. She has also managed to elaborate 60 types of collage methods including melting and fusing the condoms. To make one dress, it can take up about 2,800 condoms. To make a wedding dress, Bertini once used 80,000 condoms.
Condom Art

Where do the condoms come from?

Bertini holds partnerships with all the major condom producers who pass her defective condoms that will be incinerated or disposed of without her use. The condoms used are those that do not pass quality control and are donated by the producing companies. They may also be defective from national production, confiscated from contraband, or past their expiry date.
Condom Art

What message is portrayed?

Bertini approaches her art as an awareness campaign for HIV/AIDS prevention. She wants to show that it is possible to speak of sexual health and safety through playful and colorful work. Her aim is to unite art with sexual education. The theme of re-using an essentially non re-usable object is crucial to Bertini’s work. Even the seemingly un-useful becomes useful in a message on the need to use condoms. Her work goes on helping to communicate about the need to prevent rather than regret HIV/AIDS.
Condom Art

~ Nikki, Editor

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