Refashion rhymes with passion


p2454 Sustainable Philomena 425By KIERAN FINNANE
A bright woollen blanket refashioned as a cape, fastened with toggles – just the thing for a chilly desert night. Modelled here by Philomela Hali, it is the creation of Sally Hare (“Happy Hare”) from Geelong, and will be one of the items on display at tonight’s annual Sustainable Couture showing in the Aviation Museum.
The participation of Hare and other interstate visitors is a sign of the event’s own sustainability, says Hali, textile artist and designer and one of the originators of the event, along with other ongoing participants, Franca Frederiksen and Carmel Ryan.
Other visitors are first-timers Maryanne Munteanu from Melbourne, Kate Fletcher from Tasmania, and returning this year from South Australia, Liz Wauchope (formerly of Alice Springs) and her collaborator Naina Devi.
The event is growing, says Hali, with more people wanting to participate than its present format – three creations per designer on the catwalk – can accommodate.
“Next year we may have to rethink how we present the parade.”
Participants are also expanding the range of creations, with recycled materials as their bottom line: apart from Marg Johnson’s headwear, there  are two designers this year with unique lines of jewellery. Amee Porter from Curtin Springs returns with more of her handmade paper accessories and newcomer Harriet Jakin is contributing accessories made from recycled bicycle tubes to the outfits designed by veteran Frederiksen.
While they won’t be on the catwalk, there will also be sustainable homewares for sale in the event’s marketplace (outside the museum), designed by Tara Leckey, Faye Alexander and Beth Woodward.
Whatever doesn’t sell tonight will then migrate to the pop up shop in The Residency, open from tomorrow until Sunday 2 July.
This year the theme is “Refashion with Our Mama’s Passion”. I asked Hali if her mother had indeed sparked her love of textile arts.  Absolutely. From Madeira in Portugal, Matilde Rebola was skilled in embroidery in the Portuguese tradition (which Hali describes as “raised and cut”). Perfecting the craft had allowed her mother, as an adolescent, to sell a piece and use the proceeds to by her very fist pair of shoes.
The family, having migrated to Australia, lived on a banana plantation in the Carnarvon area in WA. Hali remembers with delight the summers of her youth, when the seasonal vegetables they also grew were finished. She and her mother and sisters would walk to the homes of other migrants from Madeira and sit together doing their handwork.
From there, her interest grew and has never stopped: with a national reputation, she is still exploring new approaches and techniques.
This kind of personal story is also a feature of the Sustainable Couture event. After the models strut their stuff, each designer takes to the microphone to talk about what they’ve done. So tonight expect some more stories from around kitchen tables – the passing on of knowledge and tradition.


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