You think you’ve been bored in quarantine? Meet Ashleigh Perrie: dancer, cruise ship employee, paper bag fashion designer.
The Australian performer was ecstatic to be abroad the MS Zaandam, set to travel past Antarctica and up and around South America. When COVID-19 spread throughout the ship, though, her role drastically shifted. Instead of putting on costumes and stretching before a routine, she was confined to her cabin until a port would allow the Zaandam to dock.
"It was definitely a very challenging experience on board. We had a lot of faith in each other. Obviously, you had to stick with your fellow crew and get each other through the crisis. It was tough, but it was a very, very character strengthening experience, I think," she told CNN Travel.
After some 60 days and a pit stop in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where only passengers were allowed to disembark, the ship doubled back to the Netherlands. There, finally, Perrie was able to catch a flight back to Perth.
And straight back into quarantine.
Perrie had already endured ship-wide lockdowns and multiple quarantines, but for her and others’ safety, she shacked up in a hotel by herself for another two weeks -- and found herself getting creative. Armed with three-a-day paper bags that hotel staff delivered her meals in, Perrie tapped into her crafty side, resulting in a solo fashion show.
"I am usually quite a creative person, I love doing art and I studied art for a bit -- and obviously we have a lot to do with costuming and design within the theater industry and within the dance scene -- so I do love making bits and pieces," Perrie said.
What she did with those bits and pieces was a delight. By simply amassing her dinner receptacles, Perrie designed and created costumes that were then modeled and posted to her social media accounts for everyone else to enjoy.
Along with the paper bags, Perrie used what was at her disposal: napkins, containers, cutlery and her own never-ending boredom. Plus scissors and tape.
"The first design that popped into my head was a gown. I wanted something very extravagant, very formal and as detailed as I could get with the items that I had," she said.
It was the ballerina costume that she said she ended up fashioning first, though, harkening back to her dancer roots: "The first one I actually ended up making was the tutu, in the end, the "Bag-erina" as I called it, because I needed the bags to stay in the form for that one, and for a lot of the other costumes, I had to cut up the bags and use different shapes."
The ballerina tutu led to the tennis skirt, visor and racquet included, that she dubbed "The Maria Paper-pova."
Along the way, she also came up with "The Paper Warrior" and "Queen Quarantina," which is just too good.
As fun as these costumes are, Perrie shared that enduring back to back (to back to back…) quarantines wasn’t easy on her mind, especially when she was finally home and still unable to be with her family and friends. Her time spent at the hotel, she said, was mostly dedicated to self-care.
"It was time to wind down, it was time just for me to chill out and look after myself after everything I'd been through," she said.
Since she’s been home, Perrie’s been fielding requests from museums and art galleries interested in her work, but she said she’d happily board a cruise ship once again. If nothing else, she’s been able to put a smile on people’s faces.
"I think a lot of people are seeing it as a positive in the whole Covid pandemic and something nice to look back on," she said. "I've had great responses from everyone, just people appreciating how creative it was and how amazing it was to be able to do that when you're locked inside a room for two weeks and you haven't got anything else to do."