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Aitor Throup designs modular, layered costumes for Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography

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‘Autobiography’ dance work by Company Wayne McGregor at Sadler’s Wells, October 2017. Photograph by Andrej Uspenski

Aitor Throup unveiled his collaboration with multi award-winning contemporary choreographer Wayne McGregor last night at Sadler’s Wells. Aitour has created costumes for Wayne’s piece, Autobiography that feature a layered, modular design for the performance. The show will be in London until 7 October, after which it will go on tour internationally, stopping in San Francisco and St Petersburg with more dates to be added throughout the year. Autobiography is esteemed choreographer Wayne McGregor’s latest project, we previously wrote about his enchanting collaboration with Random International here.

Based on a cycle of choreographic portraits illuminated by the sequencing in Wayne’s own genome, Autobiography focusses on both “remembered pasts and speculative futures". In response to this theme, Aitor has looked retrospectively at his own body of work in order to construct garments from memory fragments of his own identity. The designer has created a unique translucent layering system which allows each dancer to wear the same costume in various configurations, which can even change throughout the course of the show. This reflects Wayne’s concept whereby the choreography of each show is unique and created through an algorithm from his actual DNA.

To construct each of these layers, the fashion designer went through a process of distilling several of his design archetypes in order to reach their essence so that “pure identity and form is retained, thus resisting abstraction". To further this, Aitor considered anatomy as a conceptual vehicle, linking our inner self and our outer self, visualised through the use of black and white in his garments.

A recent press release stated that “the ancient information locked inside each living cell, and the experiences we live through create these layered fragments of our own evolving identity". Aitor’s obsession with this idea of self-identity very much reflects the choreographer’s enquiry in Autobiography and is, in this case, demonstrated through his system of layered garments. The more layers the dancers wear, the more opaque the overall look becomes, representing “the further away we get from our ethereal selves,” whereas the careful placement of white amongst black garments serves as a metaphor for our consciousness.

Every garment is uniquely tailored to each dancer, allowing them to move freely without restrictions but also upholding the concept of the show. The costumes are lightweight and breathable while the modularity offers each dancer the “opportunity of their own expression evolving through future performances". Aitor explains his objective "is always to create anatomical objects which can create an instinctive – and hopefully emotional – connection with the viewer or wearer. Through an anatomical approach to design I aim to create symbols that remind us of our own systematically layered nature.”

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‘Autobiography’ dance work by Company Wayne McGregor at Sadler’s Wells, October 2017. Photograph by Ollie Adegboye

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‘Autobiography’ dance work by Company Wayne McGregor at Sadler’s Wells, October 2017. Photograph by Ollie Adegboye

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Aitor Throup’s modular costume design for the ‘Autobiography’ dance work by Company Wayne McGregor, October 2017

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Aitor Throup’s modular costume design for the ‘Autobiography’ dance work by Company Wayne McGregor, October 2017

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Aitor Throup’s modular costume design for the ‘Autobiography’ dance work by Company Wayne McGregor, October 2017