Can the next generation change the way the fashion industry operates for the better? We’re thinking yes. The future looks bright. On Tuesday night in Sydney, the UTS Fashion class of 2017 showed their graduate collections, before an audience that included Akira Isogawa, award-winning ex-student Kacey Devlin and fashion business insiders.
Sustainability, redefining gender and challenging the meaning of luxury were all on the menu.
“The students are at the end of their degree,” explains honours year co-ordinator Armando Chant. “They already know how to design a jacket or a pant. What we want them to do is bring added value to the industry in terms of their creativity, voice, and ideas on what fashion can be.”
This year’s theme was disruption. “It’s all about enabling students to think about what they’re producing in a very innovative way, and also to provoke the people who are already out there in the fashion space to think differently.”
Alissar Hammoud did it by totally reinventing denim. Alicia Minter Hunt by giving visual voice to “third culture” kids, or “children who have grown up for the majority of their lives in a different culture to that of their parents or passport country.”
Backstage Gina Snodgrass explained of her stand-out ‘Dandy Boys’ collection: “I don’t feel restricted by traditional masculine or feminine forms of dress. I looked at how those gendered dress codes have been created over time, and how they’ve changed. Historically if you look at court portraiture for example the men are always very elaborately dressed.” So she decked out her boys in smocked and beaded shirting and fine wool tailoring bonded with metallic lace. Today the old codes being dismantled, and Snodgrass, having been sponsored by the Australian Wool Education Trust (AWET), is well placed to build new ones in cloth.
Jessica Guzman also looked to the historical with a fresh eye. Her ‘Moral Panic’ collection was inspired by British class tensions. She was thinking about “status change [and] fashion as a tool of empowerment” - fake it till you make it. It was a smart idea, and she explored it with confidence using strong colour and witty print. There was a real feeling for the Zeitgeist here, especially in the sportswear referencing. “I think she hit the nail on the head of what people are really responding to right now” says Chant.
Backstage Lisa Liu explained that she began by looking at “the strong masculine culture of military uniforms and how I could subvert that.” She did so through pop colour and exuberant volume. Think sugar pink! In a tiered puffer coat with emerald green lining cinched with a neon orange tactical vest.
Subtler on a runway but no less interesting was the work of Mikala Tavener Hanks, who embedded one garment inside another to create a trompe l’oeil effect. Samantha Diorio also pushed her fabric treatment to great effect, working with Think Positive to digitally print ribbed knitwear. Her menswear collection begs a resee.
Yael Frischling’s pieces (pictured top) were less obviously wearable, but who cares when the ideas are this strong? These over-sized woven structures were created using zero waste techniques inspired by architectural interlocking forms - no sewing required!
Many students were inspired by sustainability and the need for the fashion of tomorrow to makes its peace with Planet Earth.
Valeria Sanchez’s dreamy textiles were a response to hyper consumerism and our increasing disconnect with the natural environment. Lily Xu, another student sponsored AWET, repurposed factory waste yarn to create her poetic knits.
Others looked to the return of handcraft. I loved Rachael O’Brien’s beautiful orange blouse, each coloured thread woven through the netting by hand. Amrita Benepal played with traditional Punjabi ‘Phulkari’ embroidery technique. Kassandra Giotopoulos Moore made magic with old-fashioned pin-tucks and hand-gathering. Stephanie Baynie’s pieces were just gorgeous, and totally wearable. I’d buy her red coat in a heart-beat.
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