Fifteen years ago Danika Frahn was working as an event florist in South Australia. She attended countless bridal expos and runway shows before realising that so many dress designs were basically copies of one another. The monotony inspired her bespoke, Melbourne-made bridal label Oarma, which creates comfortable, minimal pieces designed to be worn for years to come.
Frahn says regardless of where a fabric originates – and if it’s recyclable or degradable – the time and energy that goes into creating a wedding dress, for it to only be worn once, has a significant impact on the environment. This thinking led her to hook up with South Australian creative Phoebe Hunter of Hunter Made.
Hunter uses natural materials (such as leaves, flowers, charcoal and wood) to create art. She specialises in botanical dyeing, the process of steaming flowers and leaves onto fabrics. “I was drawn to the natural dyeing process that Hunter Made uses,” Frahn says. “[It can] offer brides a solution to the environmental impact of their wedding dresses.”
The Oarma x Hunter Made collaboration gives brides the option to botanically dye (and shorten) their Oarma wedding dresses after the big day. “If you can wear a garment time and time again, they can become a wardrobe staple and be given a new life,” Frahn says. In a nod to sentimentality, and the no-waste ethos of both studios, the flowers from a bride’s bouquet can be used in the dyeing process.
Hunter’s process is slow and similar to steeping tea. Fabric is laid out, flowers are positioned on top, then wrapped up tightly and placed in the dye pot. “Part of the charm of natural dye is that it doesn’t perform like synthetic colour. It can be abstracted and unpredictable,” Hunter says. “Each piece is unique by design of the process. There is a beauty in the impermanent quality of it.”
Oarma pieces draw on vintage styles, and more specifically the style of Frahn’s oma (grandmother) – the inspiration for the label’s name, too. “She is the most stylish 94-year-old I know,” Frahn says. “Her motto – which she tells me often – is ‘never stop loving, never stop dancing, never stop being healthy and holding hands’.”
Oarma’s designs are steeped in simplicity with a focus on fabric choice. “We use natural fibres like silk because they can return to the earth at the end of their life cycle, and dead-stock fabric that would otherwise end up in landfill,” Frahn says.
In addition to dresses with clean architectural lines and simple silhouettes, the range includes wide-leg silk pants, sheer chiffon coats and delicate camisoles. Production is based on a made-to-order model, with each piece is created by request.
Frahn also recently opened a studio in Thornbury, inside Prana House. The label’s minimal aesthetic is mirrored by the light-filled space and its white sheer curtains.
“It felt important to me, as an unconventional bride myself, to create designs that embraced the diversity of love and play with the notion of the modern bride,” Frahn says. “I wanted to offer a range of pieces that could make anyone feel comfortable to celebrate their relationship.”
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