The air is warm one day, cool the next – it is Autumn. Leaves are falling, perfect for composting. Thinking about the cycle of the seasons leads us to thinking about cycles of production, for example, the circular fashion system, something that students and staff spent time discussing and work-shopping during the Youth Fashion Assembly on the 16th April. In this issue of the Houndstooth, we wrap around these ideas with the Assembly, adventures at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, and news of the composter in the Brunswick Dye Garden.
Editor note: We have been experiencing trouble with email notifications since the RMIT migration to Office365. If you have missed recent editions of the Houndstooth Wrap be sure to check the archives for all the 2019 happenings across the School of Fashion and Textiles.
RMIT Floral Fashion
Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
Every year, as part of the Future Matter(s) studio, RMIT Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students take part in a plant-based ‘Floral Fashion’ design competition at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, held at the Carlton Gardens and Royal Exhibition Building at the end of March. The 2019 theme was: ‘Future Matter(s): Ecology, Climate and Community.’ The sixteen student participants explored the use of living plants as a unique design material and – with their work displayed in the Great Hall of Flowers – the exhibition as a mode for contemporary fashion enterprise. Three winners took home a share in the $3000 prize money.
Congratulations to Taylah Caddy, Meg Bradbury and Zoe May Sutherland!
The Floral Fashion exhibit has been a special part of the Flower and Garden show for over 18 years. Because of this, project lead Dr Georgia McCorkill says that students come to the studio with a great deal of excitement about the event and competition.
While the process is very fast-paced, with only five weeks from design to installation, the students were enthusiastic about their projects from start to finish, showed a great deal of teamwork and support for one another and learnt invaluable skills about working under pressure and with unfamiliar materials and contexts.
Fashion Lecturer Dr Tarryn Handcock said the collaboration was an opportunity for students to gain outward-facing industry experience. “Design should never be in a bubble. Floral Fashion gives students perspective on alternative modes of fashion and exhibition.”
First-prize winner Taylah Caddy presented a design featuring a gas mask made from flowers, an umbrella made from leaves and a succulent jacket. The design was entitled ‘Not knowing future matters’ and examined societal attitudes and ignorance about the impacts of climate change. Caddy told Jasmijn van Houten it was an amazing feeling to have been honoured with the prize.“RMIT has given me a lot of opportunities and opened me up to a lot of new ideas that I’ve never had before. It’s allowed me to think differently and try so many different things. I never thought I’d be working with flowers instead of fabrics.”
The competition judges (curator for the National Trust of Australia, Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna, sustainable fashion writer and blogger Leeyong Soo and Lecturer in Industrial Design Juliette Anich) commended Caddy’s skill in design and installation, including her thoughtful use of plants that would last the length of the show.
At the show’s conclusion, students disassembled their work and utilised the composter in the Brunswick Dye Garden to return suitable plant matter to nature (see below in ‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings).
Youth Fashion Assembly
Tuesday 16 April
After attending the Copenhagen Youth Fashion Summit as fourth-year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students 2018, RMIT alumni Julia English and Amanda Morglund were inspired to put together a similar event here at RMIT, giving students from across the Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) program the opportunity to discuss aspects of the contemporary fashion system and workshop how we might improve the future of fashion, especially in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.The day was centred around five key focus areas:
- Circular Systems
- Materials and Production Ethics
- Global Responsibility
- Emerging Technology
- New Methods of Practice
Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) alumni Hannah Berry and Nicola Fogarty facilitated a panel discussion with five industry guests, Courtney Holm (A.BCH), Lois Hazel, Nicki Colls (Fibreshed Melbourne), Saskia Fairfull (IFab) and Teslin Doud (The Threads, Creative Studio). The discussion centred around the five key focus areas of the day and included numerous student questions from the audience. Student questions keenly reiterated the sense of urgency felt about the current state of environmental and economic instability in relation to the fashion industry.
Following a break for lunch, students broke into five groups to attend workshops on each of the five key focus areas. Workshops looked at questions of fashion’s environmental footprint, and the future potential of circular solutions; sustainability as a business imperative and moral responsibility; technological opportunities for improved – even revolutionised – ethical production methods; and future responses to the ongoing issues of overproduction and overconsumption. At the end of the afternoon, the results of the workshops were presented in the Hanger and the event concluded with a closing address.
The event provided students with a unique opportunity to workshop fashion futures with industry professionals. Being involved in practical sessions allowed participants to think seriously about how sustainability and ethics play into their creative practice, and how they will negotiate these questions in their future design and consumption decisions.
‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings
We are now in early winter, April and May. This is Waring (Wombat) Season. Waring emerge to graze and bask in the sunshine. The native honey bees are still around. The country is cooling and the rains are more frequent though it is still dry. Fungi have appeared. Bunjil, the Eagle, is building his nest, and the Brush-tail and Ringtail Possums are mating. Many different moths have emerged, and are food for birds during the day and for Sugar and Feathertail gliders at night.
POST-FLOWER AND GARDEN SHOW COMPOSTING
Thursday 4 April
Following the success of RMIT students at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, the garments were dismantled and brought back to the Brunswick campus for disposal. For the first time in the years that RMIT has participated in the Floral Fashions exhibition, the organic matter from the creative works could be composted on campus. This was an auspicious way to build upon composting in the Dye Garden. The workshop event during Sustainability Week was a great way to start with the collection of dry autumn leaves. Incorporating the wet material from the floral garments as a part of a studio project really showed the potential of the garden to be a space for learning about the entire life-cycle of garments and fashion futures.
REMINDER: GARDEN HAT COMPETITION
Entries for the School of Fashion and Textiles / DSC VE School competition to design a garden hat are due by 4.30pm, Friday 10th MAY. There is a $300 cash prize at stake! We are very excited to see your creativity in hat form.
Entries must take into account varying weather conditions, differing head sizes, capacity for sustainable production and practicality of wear whilst gardening. The hat design must also reflect something of the spirit of the Brunswick garden community. Any questions and submissions to be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.