Fashion Forward: Balenciaga, MFW and Spring Planting

This month, the Houndstooth Wrap is fashion forward! We hear from Lecturer of Fashion Enterprise Saniyat Islam, who led a field-trip of Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) students, staff and alumni to Bendigo to visit the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition; look at the work of Bachelor of (Design)(Honours) students who showed their graduate collections as part of the Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) Student Runway; celebrate the success of Ryley Wilson, who was named one of the three winners of the inaugural Specsavers Young Innovators Design Competition; and congratulate four third-year Bachelor of (Design)(Honours) students who had their work featured as part of a VAEFNO event during MFW.

Finally, we share the activities of the Spring Planting Workshop in the RMIT Garden Studio, including the release of the ladybirds!


Balenciaga Exhibition, Bendigo Art Gallery 

Tuesday 27 August

On 17th August, the Bendigo Art Gallery opened its new fashion exhibition: Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. Lecturers of Fashion Entrepreneurship Kate Kennedy and Saniyat Islam led a group of students, staff and alumni on a field-trip visit to Bendigo to attend the exhibition on 27 August. Saniyat tells us about the day:

“As a part of belonging to place and culture as well to the discipline and the profession, we led a day out for the Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) cohort to explore the Balenciaga exhibition and discover Bendigo. 

The exhibition showed the extraordinary work of Balenciaga. A must see for all interested fashion followers and practitioners. Known and lesser known designs were on display, including both historical and contemporary pieces. 

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Visiting the “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery

One of the fascinating aspects of the exhibition was the special X-ray photos showing the “hidden secrets” of some of the designs and the recent material under creative director Demna Gvasalia, where the brand has taken a much more ‘street’ approach to fashion, and now has a cult following for its bags and shoes, especially the sneakers.”

(Note from Robyn: Alumni Hugh Westland is currently the Senior Designer of menswear at Balenciaga. Go Hugh!)

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Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) visit to “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery


Melbourne Fashion Week Student Runway

Sunday 1 September

The annual MFW Student showcase was held on Sunday 1 September at the Melbourne Town Hall. The work of twenty current RMIT Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students were included, alongside the work of young designers from Holmesglen Institute, Box Hill Institute, Whitehouse Institute of Design, The Masters Institute for Creative Education, and Kangan Institute. The collection this year also included the work of three students from Ueda College of Fashion from Melbourne’s sister city, Osaka. Among the six finalists in the Student Design Competition were two RMIT students: Emily Watson (‘Active Relaxation’ collection) and Jordyn Smith (‘Fashion’s Prometheus’ collection). Congratulations to you both!

RMIT’s runway is always surprising, never the same each year. Our students displayed a diversity of aesthetic styles and collections, ranging from the street to the prairie to the pool-side and back to the street again. Jinwei Zhang‘s cowboy collection played with proportion and exaggeration; Emma Frankcom‘s ‘Unreal Content’ collection explored the ideas of celebrity and reality in the digital age through the construction of garments based on paparazzi photographs; Georgia Zulian‘s ‘What They Wore’ collection was influenced by the negative impacts of textile waste and the potential for critical thinking within the design process; Paris Moschis‘s chic ‘Case Study’ collection was informed by his own evolutionary relationship to fashion, dressing, and how he defines men’s clothing. This is just a little taster of the collections. Well done to you all!

Photos by Lucas Dawson.


Specsavers Young Innovator Design Competition 

As part of their sponsorship of the MFW Student Showcase, Specsavers also ran their inaugural Young Innovator Design Competition. Five finalists were selected from entries by designers from across Australia and New Zealand. On the night of the student showcase, Head of Design and Product Development for Specsavers Stig Hansen announced the three winners whose designs will be put into production for sale across Specsavers stores in 2020. Congratulations to our own RMIT Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) student Ryley Wilson who was one of the three winners. Congratulations Ryley!


BeeKeeper Parade Collaboration

As part of the 2019 Vogue American Express Fashion Night Out (VAEFNO), Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) students from RMIT were invited to create a unique print in response to the ‘New York City street party’ theme. Five third-year students, Yong Bin Zhang, Jia Jia Cai, Zhouyi Liang, Nicole Esquires and Jasmine Failla had their prints transformed into skyscraper-esque towers, which were on display at Melbourne Central during the MFW VAEFNO event. Shoppers had the chance to vote for their favourite print and the first 200 voters will receive one of the limited edition BeeKeeper bum bags made using the four graphic prints. Well done Yong Bin, Jia Jia, Zhouyi and Nicole!

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Third-year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students, L-R: Yong Bin Zhang, Jia Jia Cai, Zhouyi Liang and Nicole Esquires


‘Garden Studio’ Growings and Spring Planting Workshop

September to October is Poorneet, Tadpole Season. It is true Spring. Temperatures are rising, though the rains continue. Melting snow fills the billabongs. There are flowers on the burgan, Goodenia, Kangaroo apple, yam daisies, and flax lily. Young kangaroos are out of pouch and the pied currawongs are calling. 

In the Garden Studio, the dahlia is still in flower, there is new growth on the blueberries, indigo and roses, and fresh leaves are unfurling on the eucalyptus. Making the most of the spring weather and the promise of warmer days ahead, the RMIT Garden Committee hosted a Spring Planting Workshop on Tuesday 10 September. This was an opportunity to harvest the beetroot and rainbow chard to make space in the VegePods for the planting of Woad, Weld and Red Clover seeds as well as African Marigolds and Madder.

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Hydration supplies for the Spring Planting Workshop in the RMIT Garden Studio

Fresh compost from the garden composter was used on the garden beds, which was the first time that RMIT-made compost was used on campus — a true demonstration of waste being transformed into resource. Robyn is very keen for us to enter a big beetroot into next year’s Royal Melbourne Show!

Perhaps the most exciting part of the event was the release of forty ladybirds into the Blood Sorrel VegePod. A number of plants in the garden have been plagued by pesky aphids, ants, caterpillars and moths so the ladybirds have been introduced into the garden as organic pest controllers, helping us to keep the garden healthy and pest-free in the coming spring and summer months.

Did You Know? – Australia hosts more than 500 ladybird species, most of which are predators of aphids and scales — insect pests that feed on plant sap and cause serious damage to gardens and crops. In 1888, the Australian native vedalia ladybird became the world’s first biocontrol agent (aka – Aussie 007!) when it was exported to California to rid citrus orchards of cottony-cushion scale. The mealybug ladybird followed in 1891 and successfully controlled California’s citrus mealy bug. Today ladybirds such as the transverse, maculate and minute two-spotted species control aphid populations, and thus increase yields in the Australian cotton industry, one of our highest rural export earners. Ladybirds are rarely preyed upon: they taste terrible. They further repel predators by emitting a noxious liquid from their leg joints when threatened. – Australian Geographic, 2017

Welcome to our new tiny friends!

 – Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles