Exclusive: Model Suki Waterhouse on wearing a paper couture dress during Milan Fashion Week

The piece, which took more than 100 hours to make, was the brainchild of respected British sculptor and artist Zoe Bradley.

Model Suki Waterhouse poses in front of Milan's Duomo in a couture paper gown by Zoe Bradley. Courtesy of British Airways
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Ever the consummate professional, it was a smiling Suki Waterhouse who braved bitterly cold temperatures to parade around Milan’s famous Piazza del Duomo in a strapless gown.

What made the spectacle on the sidelines of Milan Fashion Week even more absorbing was that the couture creation was made entirely of paper.

The piece, which took more than 100 hours to make, was the brainchild of respected British sculptor and artist Zoe Bradley. She had been commissioned by British Airways to design the gown to celebrate “travel, fashion and style”, and the artwork was presented and worn for just one day in Italy.

Flanked by cabin crew and pilots, 25-year-old Waterhouse posed for photos in front of Milan’s iconic Duomo cathedral before attending a private high tea where she mingled with guests who admired the dress on display in the centre of the room.

In an exclusive interview with The National, Waterhouse revealed the trick to walking in the colossal couture structure and discussed her acting ambitions.

You looked like you were gliding through Duomo’s square in Zoe Bradley’s dress. Was there a mechanical element to the gown?

Oh, really? Did I? That’s funny because my mum said I looked like an armadillo on wheels. I think there are wheels under the dress, yes, but I just had to be careful not to put my heels into any potholes on the street. Between the cobbled stones and holes in the pavement, it would have been terrible to fall over. But, to be honest, I don’t think anything that bad would have happened if I had. I felt very supported in the dress. I was just praying it wouldn’t rain.

Given the size and scale of the gown, was it heavy or challenging to wear?

No, not too horrible actually. It is made of paper after all, so not too bad. And Zoe Bradley is a very talented lady. I love the fact that the colours and the shape of the dress subtly represent the airline and it was great to have it customised to me. I think people were absolutely blown away by it.

Were you aware of Zoe’s work before you signed up to this project?

I knew of her work beforehand as she had designed with Alexander McQueen. So, yes I was very aware that there was a very big name involved.

What convinced you to come on-board?

Well, I’m on planes quite a lot so it’s nice to have a friend in the sky.

Do you have a favourite travel destination?

I have a place in Los Angeles now so I feel pretty at home there. I can keep busy and stay warm which is kind of ideal for me. I’m pretty happy to be there.

You’re British born and bred but do I detect a transatlantic twang?

No, no, sorry I’m putting on an accent. I’m in character. I’m doing an American accent while I’m talking to you because I’m in a movie which starts this week. I’ve had to do this accent for a few weeks now and in my head I can hear myself making mistakes. So, I’m practicing with you.

What can you tell us about the new film?

It's called Assassination Nation and it's directed by Sam Levinson. Do you know the American actress and model Hari Nef? She was in Gucci's show here in Milan. Well, she's very cool and she's in it with me. Also Odessa Young who's a very talented Australian actress and a girl called Abra who's a musician. It's a wild script, very exciting.

You first started appearing in TV shows and short films about six years ago. Is acting something you’ll continue to pursue more than modelling?

Yeah, pretty much all of my time and every spare day I have is dedicated to being an actress. But, obviously, I still want to model for as long as possible.”

Zoe Bradley's couture paper dress is now on permanent display in BA's Waterside museum in the U.K. For more information and to view the latest deals to Milan from the UAE go to www.britishairways.com