Empowered at the National Graduate Showcase

By Angelia Van Le

This piece was written as part of the Fashion Writing Program 2019

The 2019 VAMFF campaign, “Power to the Dreamers” couldn’t be more relatable to this year’s emerging designers at the National Graduate Showcase. The idea itself, to be empowered to dream and through this narrative, inspire others through fashion is a storytelling vehicle that is as powerful and expressive as words.

The magic of fashion has echoed its way through the past, present and future. In the past, revolutionary collections such as Alexander McQueen’s SS10 Plato’s Atlantis inspired a new generation of designers and changed the future of fashion. The collection was based around the idea of a future ecological apocalypse where humans after wreaking havoc on the earth were swallowed up by the oceans transforming into fantastical sea monsters wearing reptilian digital printed dresses that looked like organic extensions of their own bodies and who can forget the iconic armadillo claw-like shoes that were so avant-garde they transcended time. In present day we sadly lost a fashion legend, the late Karl Lagerfeld, a designer who reached well beyond his boundaries and breathed new life into fashion houses Chanel and Fendi. Karl Lagerfeld was part of a generation of designers alongside the greats such as Yves Saint Laurent and many have questioned, who will be the next fashion figures to spearhead the future?  


Pops of colour and intricate detail at The National Graduate Showcase


Emerging designers are a unique and special breed, in fact they are born of dreams. In training they are taught to explore the idea of a concept and through this concept form a design and at this very infantile stage is where designs become so visionary that it is as if pure dreams have come to life. Quite often students perform the complete garment making process by hand, including all the pattern making, sewing and laborious hours of hand finished techniques like beading, screen printing and needle felting. So here we are at the National Graduate Showcase ready to take a seat and witness the magic that is about to ensue.

There was an abundance of talent at this years show with designers looking to the past, present and future for inspiration. RMIT graduate Conor Utri presented a collection inspired by rural farming communities with themes around utility and work wear. There were historic references to country heritage, “dirty” plaid (as it was referred to), herringbone tweed, patchwork and an affinity for technical details such as misaligned features that turned garments on a 45 degree angle in a bias cut shirt and pants complete with “muddy” boots. Needle felting techniques were seen on roving pieces that were hand dyed in shades of mottled brown and greens. A scaled fishing net dress, cable knit jumper and felted woollen coat conjured up feelings of crisp Winter’s sitting by a campfire sipping tea out of a tin cup.   

The showcase was a testament to the mediums rich capacity for narrative where UTS student Golnaz Rezaei Daghigh showcased a minimal eponymous line that explored present themes of activism against current political issues highlighting the movement against the compulsory wearing of the hijab in Iran. Simplicity can speak volumes and the range featured architectural lines with monochromatic pieces that were draped using patterns made from head scarves in a symbolic suggestive tone that was quietly powerful.


Shimmering fabrics and glitter-eyes at The National Graduate Showcase


A futuristic change of pace saw QUT student Eily Shaddock’s delightfully high-spirited collection entitled “Digidentity’ accelerate down the runway with unashamed displays of colour. Based around digital culture and technology addition the range quite literally screamed messages such as “GET OFF YOUR PHONE” and “slow down” chaotically printed on figure hugging lycra garments styled back with rainbow holographic pieces. The show stopping piece was a multi-faceted jacket completely covered in shards of reflective black mirror designed to replicate a broken or smashed iphone screen (stroke of genius).

There was vast talent on show with a marvellously inclusive cast all of which have a bright future ahead and will no doubt continue to create alchemic magic through their collections inspired from the past, present and future, “Power to the Dreamers”.

The National Graduate Showcase was Presented by Target, and Supported by Fashion Journal.

The National Graduate Showcase Finalists included:
Amanda Nichols (RMIT)

Ariana Patawaran (UTS)
Benjamin Garg (RMIT)
Conor Utri (RMIT)
Eily Shaddock (QUT)
Golnaz Rezaei Daghigh (UTS)
Hannah Culshaw (UTS)
Hannah Schoemaker (UTS)
Isabella Snelson (UTS)
Jessica Xie (UTS)
Ruby Phan (UTS)
Sarah Hawes (UTS)

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