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Costume Pardi Mardi Gradi Celebrate Mardi Gras with glamorous upcycled garments

24 February 2024

In the Centre for Creativity


From jeans, to recycled tote bags, to your own personal creation! Join sustainable fashion designers Sally Jackson and Gary Bigeni in decorating your own recycled tote bag at the Sydney Opera House Centre for Creativity to celebrate this years Sydney Mardi Gras!

Celebrate Mardi Gras with glamorous upcycled garments

To celebrate Sydney Mardi Gras 2024, sustainable fashion designers Sally Jackson and Gary Bigeni will facilitate a weekend of workshops for adults and kids to create unique and custom-made tote bags for your Mardi Gras celebrations.

Workshops designed by Sally Jackson, alongside queer designer Gary Bigeni, attendees work with recycled and sustainable fashion materials, generously donated by Upparel, to repurpose material offcuts into glamorous costume accessories.

Participants will receive an upcycled denim bag lovingly hand-dyed in Gary Bigeni's bold signature colourful style. Each bag is constructed from upcycled garments painted separately, creating an original work of art on each bag. Bigeni's slow hand dyeing techniques achieve brilliant colours that are ready to wear.

In this workshop, participants will customise these accessories using fringing, beading and other textile manipulation techniques to create a bespoke to flaunt wherever they celebrate Sydney Mardi Gras, as well as learn the essential and dynamic history of upcycling textile waste with handy tips to incorporate this thinking and making into your everyday life.

Of course, no workshop is complete without the necessary catwalk and photoshoot to proudly display your creations with friends.

Sydney Opera House Presents


Meet the artists

Sally Jackson

Sally Jackson is a Sydney-based couture designer specialising in bespoke garments made from high-quality vintage fabrics combined with layered printing and hand-crafted surface treatments.

Sally has been a sustainable and ethical fashion activist for over a decade. Her experience ranges from teaching up-cycled garment design and construction at the Powerhouse Museum, University of Technology, Sydney, and, most recently, collaborating on the First Nations Fashion and Design movement, having participated in a group show at Sydney Fashion Week in May 2022.

Sally's Collection, 'The Bowerbirds', is made from 100% preloved fashion and textile waste.

Gary Bigeni

Gary Bigeni pushes the limits of fashion as individual expression through his custom made-to-order fine art collections. Original designs are hand-painted by Gary directly onto ethically sourced eco-cotton, then made in very limited production runs using sustainable manufacturing practices. Intended to last a lifetime, all pieces are gender-neutral and designed to reflect the distinctive personality of the wearer.

Even as a young Maltese boy living in Sydney, Australia with his three siblings and mother, creativity was always present for Gary Bigeni. As a child, he would sneak into his mother’s wardrobe and cut large circles out of the bottom of her dresses so he could create collections for his GI Joes and Barbies. Years later, following fashion training at East Sydney Tech, Gary Bigeni launched his eponymous label and secured himself as part of the Australian fashion cohort.


Changing the whole system, UPPAREL is Australia and New Zealand’s leading textile recycling company. Their commitment is to leave a positive impact for the next generation which is echoed through the triple bottom line framework – people, planet and profit.

Find out more

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