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Filmmaker Aguilera and artist Mesdaghi create Costco couture for opening night gala


Costco Couture 04So at the Fort Myers Film Festival’s VIP pre-party at Blu Sushi in the River District on Tuesday evening, performance artist, actress and writer Leila Mesdaghi lamented to artist and filmmaker Cesar Aguilera that she didn’t have an outfit for last night’s opening at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center. “Come to my studio tomorrow at 1:30,” he told her with a twinkle in his assessing eyes. “And bring paper towels.”

When Cesar Aguilera talks, Fort Myers listens, so Leila swung by Costco, picked up a gross of paper towels and arrived in time at Cesar’s studio. He scoffed when he saw the haul. “We won’t need that many,” he grinned in his trademark Aguilera style. And he didn’t. Costco Couture 16In less than two hours and using a single roll, voila, he designed and fabricated couture for Leila to wear to the red carpet gala. He even signed his latest work of art.

Of course, traveling to the Performing Arts Hall presented its own unique constellation of challenges. After all, it wouldn’t do to add unseemly car creases to the stylized tiers of the bodice, white pleats of the frock or eye-catching bustle Costco Couture 06of Aguilera’s imaginative design. But the couture made the trip without a hitch. Mesdaghi was equally appreciative that there wasn’t a drop of rain in the forecast yesterday evening. “But Cesar did make a dress out of drop cloth for me to wear underneath just in case the paper towels got wet for some reason,” Leila confessed with a broad smile.

“I got the idea from the big linen napkins that were lying across the tables at Blu Sushi,” revealed Cesar of his inspiration for the dress. “I was actually joking when I said we’d make a dress out of paper towels, but the joke turned into reality.”

Cesar Aguilera and Shelley PorterMany know Aguilera through his mixed media paintings, drawings and sculpture, but he is also accomplished in film, special effects, make-up, costume design, fashion design, acting and even performance art. In fact, he created the masks that were used by the actors taking part in Ghostbird Theatre Group’s performance of The Chicken Play last November and a 6-minute film he wrote, directed, co-produced and appears in will be screened Bubbles Promo 01during this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. Titled Bubbles, it airs during the Late Night Shorts segment on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. in the grand atrium of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

Read here about why you should see Bubbles.

Read here for how Bubbles got made.

And read here to find out about Aguilera’s storied career and riveting body of work.

Leila Mesdaghi is mixed media and performance artist who is also accomplished in sculpture, video and film. She co-starred in Leila Chicken PlayGhostbird Theatre’s production of The Chicken Play and has orchestrated numerous groundbreaking performing art pieces. Mesdaghi seeks to connect with viewers in a visceral, evocative, emotional manner. To her, art is a combination of emotional experience and social responsibility. Through her performance pieces, she comments on social and political issues like war in the Middle East, the negative reflections of Social Media in society, the housing crisis in the U.S, or the price and promise of progress.

Read here if you want to know more about Leila and her body of work.

Costco Couture 08Leila could have stopped into Publix or Winn-Dixie instead of Costco for the paper towels Cesar requested, but not being a quicker-picker-upper type of woman, she wasn’t about to go with Bounty. As a result, friends dubbed the outfit “Costco couture” last night. If you’re listening Costco, it sounds like Leila and Cesar should get some merchandise in exchange for all the free advertising they provided the chain at the glitziest, glummest event in all of Fort Myers.

March 9, 2017.


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