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Instagrammer Repurposes Plastics to Conjure the 'Upside Gown'

Berliner Elien Rijnbeek used bubble wrap and a lot of creativity to design an outfit inspired by the hit Netflix series, “Stranger Things.”

Norbert Sparrow

July 13, 2022

2 Min Read
creation of the Upside Gown
Images courtesy of Elien Rijnbeek/SM Weissbach

Fans of the Stranger Things series on Netflix have superpowers that may not equal those of Eleven, but are pretty awesome in their own right. They turned on a new generation to Dungeons and Dragons. They made goofy 1980s hairstyles a thing again. Most of all, they resurrected the Kate Bush classic, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God),” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200 chart 37 years after it was first released. On a more individual level, it inspired Elien Rijnbeek to create a sartorial response to the Upside Down named, appropriately, the Upside Gown.

The 31 year old who lives in Berlin and goes by Lie has been creating costumes for several years. Several cosplay classics are displayed on her Instagram account. (You will need to log into Instagram to view her page embedded below.)

She got the idea for the Upside Gown when she learned that the set designers of the Netflix series used such mandane materials as pool noodles and bubble wrap to create the netherworld. When a friend of hers who had just moved was about to throw away a bunch of waste plastic used to wrap breakables, Lie saw an opportunity to realize her vision. She explains how the gown came together in a video on her Instagram account.

Some bubble wrap, plastic scrap, Worbla, and a lot of creativity produced this sartorial homage to the Upside Down from Stranger Things.

She created a bodice, or upper torso cast, out of Worbla, a thermoplastic material that can be shaped and stretched when heat is applied. It’s a go-to for film professionals and hobbyists alike. Lie then made 40 or so “plastic sausages,” as she calls them, by folding bubble wrap around some wire and gluing the sausages to the bodice along with some random layers of plastic to give them a “vein-like texture,” she explains in the video. The ensemble is painted in the gruesome color palette of the Upside Down, and voilá — a truly stunning outfit made largely from plastic scrap that, she says, is more comfortable to wear than it looks. In fact, “I can easily walk and run up the hill with it,” she adds.


About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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