There is good reason that graduate shows are often the most anticipated events at fashion weeks. Without the pressures of having to please buyers, graduates put forward inspiring collections, where innovation and craftsmanship are celebrated. At the recent L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Sportsgirl presented Australia’s next generation of fashion designers. Diverse collections were shown, ranging from the avant-garde to everyday wear, with each designer proving why they are ones to watch. Broadsheet introduces you to some of Australia’s most promising young designers.
Over the last few years menswear has been given a rebirth in Australia. There is a new interest, and a demand, for innovative, fashion-forward men’s clothing that goes beyond the ubiquitous printed tee and jeans. Sangeeta Singh, an RMIT graduate, is an excellent example of Australia’s next generation of menswear designers. Intrigued by the utility in everyday menswear, her graduate collection 'Catalogues of the Everyday' gives classic, everyday pieces new life with bright colours and clashing prints. “When designing this project I started collecting utility garments of all descriptions – trench coats, overalls, coveralls and jeans,” Sangeeta says. “I started dissecting construction elements, details, started to layer different combinations of garments, and took silhouette ideas from there. [The collection] was really about embracing our staple items and celebrating utility in everyday clothing.”
Designers like Sandra Backlund have helped to lead a new appreciation of knitwear, demonstrating the exciting possibilities of the medium to explore shape and texture. Jessica O’Connor of Outpost uses this traditional technique to create innovative, contemporary winter wear. “I am so interested in the tradition, the history and the story of knitting as a craft,” Jessica says, “but also [knitting] as a form of expression, identity and also simply for protection.” Her graduate collection contrasts oversized cable-knit pieces with fine, machine-knitted items. “I think sometimes knitting appears to be a bit stuck within the ‘craft’ category and has a reputation to be a bit kitsch,” the University of Technology (NSW) graduate says. “I really wanted to contemporise knitting, and also show its intricate textural and beautiful qualities.”
It’s not hard to see why Sportsgirl selected Anna Diaz to present her graduate collection at L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. Her feminine, on-trend pieces can easily be pictured hanging on the store’s racks. A graduate of Queensland’s University of Technology, Ana creates wearable, consumer-focused clothing. For her final-year collection, she explored a variety of textures including kangaroo leather, bamboo and organic cotton, Italian wool, and appliqué modal. Pieces include wide-legged pants, calve-length skirts, pleated shorts, blouses and knit tops. Having completed a double degree in business and fine arts, Ana has already launched her eponymous label.
University of Technology (NSW) graduate Sarah Mok takes a conceptual approach to fashion. For her graduate collection, she created finely detailed sculptural garments. “The central focus was to create a sense of illusion through the form, colour and its movement to evoke an ephemeral quality to the garment, as if possessing its own life,” Sarah says. The impressive three-dimensional garments were made from hundreds of organza square pieces in a range of tones that helped to give them a sense of movement.
After presenting her graduate collection at last year’s Melbourne Sprint Fashion Week, Laura Anderson won the City of Melbourne Student Series Prize, which included an internship at Milan fashion house Costume National. Returning to the runway for the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Laura, a RMIT alumnus, is already a fixture in the fashion scene. Stemming from a study into lingerie, Laura’s graduate collection is a technical exploration into the relationship between textile creation and three-dimensional design. The structured collection of geometric shapes and intricate prints is inspired by the works of early geometric chrono-photographer