STORY and PHOTOS by KIERAN FINNANE
A cute pooch helped deliver the wow factor; other animal inspiration delivered on the theme.
Worn to be Wild was the headline for last night’s Sustainable Couture show, the eighth, and now a regular feature of a weekend in Alice Springs that celebrates textile arts, the Beanie Show following on with its launch today.
Veterans of the event, Franca Frederikson and Carmel Ryan opened, with new iterations of their dedication to refashioning, recycling and up cycling fabrics, clothing and domestic wares. In so doing, they honour the mantras of their mothers and grandmothers’ generations: “make do and mend”, “waste not want not”, “a stitch in time saves nine”.
It was Ryan who added the irresistible touch of a pooch (right), earning the crowd’s wow, in a collection featuring the wild colour of men’s hi-vis workwear – apparently op shops are full of it.
“What’s wild to me may not be wild to you,” warned Frederikson, recalling her ‘wild’ schoolgirl self, hitching up her uniform to break the nuns’ hemline rule. She fittingly included a very short funky skirt in her collection (left), which also featured jewellery by Amee Porter from Curtin Springs, using handmade paper and found objects from the cattle station.
Marg Johnson, who in previous shows has focussed on millinery creations, this year extended her range into complete outfits, taking inspiration from the fashions of 1927, the year construction of the Residency was completed in Alice Springs, becoming home to the Administrator and the hub for social and cultural activities of its settler residents.
Judi Bilkey returned from Victoria for her third showing, artfully re-purposing doona covers – which make great full-circle skirts without seams – as well as vintage handkerchiefs and tiny sized dresses. Very many of the latter were put together to make up eight metres of skirt for a full-length dress.
The event otherwise welcomed new designers, eight of them, from Alice Springs and interstate.
Marg Easson from Adelaide transformed Indian cotton furnishings and fabric scraps with Indigo dye and used kangaroo bones and shells to add a wild touch to her models’ neck and head adornments, whose spirit they captured in dance.
Pip McManus, an artist well known for her work with ceramics and (increasingly) video, turned her hand to jewellery, using the titles and tokens remembered from childhood games. MC for the night, Jane Lloyd, modelled a necklace and bracelet featuring dominoes (right); McManus herself was wearing pieces made from mahjong tiles.
Amanda McMillan and Brigida Stewart, known particularly for their creative enabling of local Indigenous fabric design for furniture and clothing, fielded five models ready to go clubbing, deconstructing and reconstructing an eclectic range of garments with a unifying Japanese touch – thanks to a ‘70s silk costume that somebody forgot collect from the drycleaners two years ago.
Janie Andrews, originally from the UK, now living in Darwin’s rural area, modelled herself a clever theatrical costume inspired by the Thorny Devil (left), while showing also a two-piece garden party outfit infused by Nordic midsummer madness, and a more autumnal look touched by the nocturnal wild in her ‘Owl’ skirt.
Wrapping up for the night was Liz Wauchope, a born and bred Alice Springs textile artist who now lives in Adelaide. She collaborated on her pieces with Naina Devi who studied fashion in India before migrating to Australia several years ago. Devi was responsible for the construction, Wauchope for the textile art. All of the pieces used recycled men’s ties, variously dyed and screenprinted.
In an innovative move this year, the Sustainable Couture collections will go on sale in a pop-up shop in the middle of town (on Gregory Terrace next to Casalinga restaurant, for the next two weeks). The shop will also feature work by well known local designers Philomena Hali and Julie Millerick who were not part of last night’s show.
Pictured below, from top: designs by Marg Johnson, Judi Bilkey, Marg Easson, Liz Wauchope & Naina Devi, and Amanda McMillan & Brigida Stewart.
Couture on the wildside
STORY and PHOTOS by KIERAN FINNANE