Hello and welcome to 2013 Paris '99 style, better late than never I might add ;).
To fill you all in on the long and the short of it, it is just flyyyyyying by!
Meeting new people, catching up with old friends, replacing my square serving platter with a stunning, and heavy, rectangle of green/black marble (three things with commas I know, but I'm going to keep going on listing, y'all can manage!), planning a successful Paris '99 'traveling salon' in Sydney, presenting a series of talks as part of the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, LMFF, being commissioned to design pieces for an amazing new band in LA, yes, upon reflection it has been rather busy and I love it!
Now let's break it down, possibly into 2 posts so that you don't feel as if you have read a dissertation, albeit with (hopefully) pretty pictures. As you know I am a full bodied lover of fashion, all aspects of the industry; designer's histories, campaign shoots, who was in what shot by who, the history of fashion and style, factual, biographical, the idea of a brand and communication, and of course, design. Since I was 11 I have been draping, drawing and eventually sewing garments, some men's, mostly women's and sometimes in between. I studied fashion design (I'm sure I've mentioned this before) and was even able to humbly show my work in an installation presented in the fashion city of my heart, Antwerp (en).
In fact the first things I had for show at Paris '99 were hand dyed cheesecloths scarves/shawls/wraps/things made with leftover fabric from my graduate collection. I painstakingly squeezed and washed and stirred and wrung these out, and while they were supposed to be black they turned out a fabulous array in between grape and charcoal, which I liked, it was unexpected and unpredictable, and could be worn in a variety of ways, something which started earlier but has continued all the way through to today in my design approach.
I mentioned Sydney beforehand, but what I didn't mention was that about a week earlier I was cleaning out my fabric cupboard, and for those of you who share this (fabulous) disease of collecting fabric, you know how this action can uncover the most incredible finds right in your own home. Well voila, I pulled out a bag, tipped it out and ooooooed with excitement when its contents emerged. A beautiful woollen kimono, and about 6 leather hides, a dark dark midnight blue colour with a weird ripple of black through the middle. Divine, and damaged, according to the vendor at the market where they were bought about a year earlier!
What damage I thought, just an usual beauty.
Needless to say, the kimono (shortened and sleeve bags cut off) became a jacket which I wore to the Nick Cave concert, very appropriate and first day of cool (before a heat wave followed... :S). The bottom half of the kimono became a wrap skirt/cape/shrug, see below. I lined it with a wool that had been in my cupboard since the good old days of RMIT where I stalked the cut off box which sometimes filled with amazing treasures of leftover samples from agents and factories, hooray for recycling!
The leather, 2 hides of it at this point, we simply stitched together at the sides and cleaned up at the edges to create a boat necked top and belted around the waist as kind of organic tunic, and from further scraps of gorgeous fabrics hiding in my cupboard I whipped together a few more unusually draped, bagged out, top stitched, twisted, asymmetrical pieces that amazingly and flatteringly did not return to Melbourne with me!
This got the design blood flowing so to speak, and I have revisited my fabric cupboard often since.
One thing to note is that my work follows strict guidelines. I use found fabric; from op shops, thrift stores, markets, garage sales, places that have given the fabric a back story, and it doesn't matter if I know what it is, the fact that it has one is important. In fact the last time I went into a new fabric shop I felt all the rolls were a bit disconnected and isolated and I didn't really have an urge to touch them, sad I know :(.
Having said that, the hand can say a lot, and if the fabric is something I wouldn't put against my own skin then I don't use it.
The next important thing is to make sure the waste created is minimised almost to zero. I try not to cut, using folding, pleating, gathering, tucking and draping to create shape and volume, and a lot of my work is about the fabric doing what it wants to do with a little bit of manipulation. It's the space between the body and the fabric that is important. And don't worry, I didn't come up with this myself, the Japanese have been following this thought for hundreds of years. There is always an element of handwork in my pieces, and also imperfection, the human touch. I technically make 'sustainable fashion' but I don't like the connotations of this label, I think everything should inherently be sustainable but not have to announce or yell it from the rooftops, or stick a sticker on it. But I'm not here to preach, so please enjoy the words and images and come say hello! :)