Trends From Trash in the TikTok Age

A lot of what you see on social media is rubbish these days. In the case of the clever re-creations of runway and red carpet looks by Angelica Hicks, often that means literally.

Ms. Hicks, 30, a British artist and illustrator who lives in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, has become something of a social media sensation thanks to her tongue-in-cheek posts of couture gowns and magazine-cover looks recreated with everyday household items like tights, tin foil and trash bags.

Take a monochrome striped dress from Carolina Herrera that was shown at New York Fashion Week this month. Ms. Hicks posted a version made from artfully draped toilet paper, the white bucket bag of the runway replaced by the dangling roll and holder. In May, she used a duvet cover and some cardboard, a purple shower loofah and strategic splotches of avocado scrub to imitate the corseted Gucci gown Billie Eilish wore to the Met Gala.

Or — and this is your reporter’s personal favorite — for a replica of the sculptural Schiaparelli gown with ornate gold brooches that Maggie Gyllenhaal wore to the Oscars, Ms. Hicks used scrunched Ferrero Rocher wrappers, chomping on the Italian chocolate balls as she went.

In a recent interview, she described the genesis of her fashion re-creations, which prove that sometimes you really can get the look for less. The conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.

Where did this idea come from?

My initial inspiration came from the “Who Wore It Best” pages of magazines like People and Us Weekly. I started with a gingham cloth, first on me as a dress and then on a table, and did an Instagram post of a photograph asking my friends who wore it best.

From 2017 onward, I recreated movie posters or Vogue covers out of things I found in my apartment. It was only in 2020, during lockdown, that I actually made a video. That was a eureka moment. Being able to watch the process of creating the outfit clearly made it much funnier for people, and my Instagram following started to grow. Then friends of mine said, “This needs to be on TikTok!” and so I started posting them on that platform, too.

Why do you think people like them so much?

Well, first of all, people love to make fun of fashion. And this is sort of trompe l’oeil for the TikTok age and a commentary on illusion versus reality. These are eye-wateringly expensive outfits from the biggest names in the business, or worn by some of the most famous people. But I can make you a much more affordable version out of bin bags or toilet roll or tinsel from my kitchen.

How do you pick a look to recreate?

I can’t force it. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I won’t recreate it unless I’m sure I can get it 95 percent right. It isn’t funny if the two looks don’t look virtually identical, and there are definitely efforts that never get uploaded. I want them to be so good I could wear them out.

What are the weirdest materials you’ve used?

Well, I’ve obviously amassed a killer dressing-up box in my apartment. But I only buy things very rarely and if I am confident it will get reused. One has to be sustainable. Case in point: Any aluminum foil is regularly reused for dinner. Or when I recreated a Dua Lipa top using Parma ham, my sister insisted I cling-film it rather than place it on my bare skin so we could eat it later.

I don’t really use weird items. It’s generally stuff everyone will have in their homes. Like face masks and lacy tights for a Lady Gaga red-carpet look. A pillow with whipped cream to copy a hat worn by the queen. Advil tablets, a soft drink can and the fur trim of my parka to recreate Teresa Giudice on her wedding day. All of it is just lying around, and I quite like to be constrained in what I can use.

How long does it take to assemble a look?

It depends, but they are always done in the space of a day. Two hours is the average.

So, is this your new main line of work?

Well, I only got a new iPhone this month with a proper camera, so I suppose that’s a start. And I’m definitely uploading more than I did as interest has grown. Lately it is as many as five times a week, with some brand partnerships with the likes of Vogue Italia, Gucci and Valentino.

But I’m not a media company. I do it alone. And I still do my other work as well, like illustrations and ceramics. Who knows where this might go next?

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