Melina Ausikaitis

Melina’s Cape Essay

One evening I was watching a documentary about Yves Saint Laurent and fell asleep with the image of a wonderful flowing cape in my head. The capes reminded me of the ones worn by matadors or members of a secret society. There were beaded images on the backs of the garments: birds, fruit and Picasso-like guitars and angles. As a performer, I have considered the function of costumes and props as aides in heightening my stage presence. The capes made me think of James Brown’s performances, where they functioned like a security blanket that restored the singer’s strength.

I have a guitar-shaped prop that I take on stage. It helps to anchor me when I am playing with a full band. As the only member without an instrument I found that I needed something to care for, especially in those pivotal moments in between songs. The fake guitar adds an element of humor and I believe that a special cape could function similarly. Costumes have the power to possess the wearer and free them from their regular constraints. The cape would also contrast with the regular clothing of my band-mates. It could serve to underline my position as the front person and highlight my general uselessness during long instrumental segments.

The band for which the cape is intended is called the Visceral Realists. The name is from a book called, The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano, which is about a revolutionary group of poets from Mexico. I designed a logo for the band that I would like to have placed on the back of my grey satin cape. The logo consists of the letters V and R.  Its lines are angular and the form possesses the general shape of an animal’s skull.  he band’s name is weighty and requires the kind of gesture this cape can provide.

Bio Melina Ausikaitis presents us with her thoughts and ideas through writing, songs, and video.  She likes to use drawings, props and costumes to tell her stories.  She is from Massachusetts and Chicago.  She sings in a band called Joan of Arc and performs solo under her name; Melina Ausikaitis. 


Photo by Alix Lambert, Artwork by Damon Locks,

Applique by Melina Ausikaitis,

Pattern & Sewing  by Jamie Hayes/Production Mode


Yves St. Laurent reference photo


James Brown reference photo

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