Gowns made from parachutes, clothes embedded into other clothes, ribbed jumpers coated in plastic — this is the future of fashion according to the UTS 2017 honours fashion graduates. Over the past year, the students have been developing and experimenting with fabrics, prints and techniques, which all culminated in this week's grad show. 16 designers showed off how they've mastered the precise skill of tailoring, only to deconstruct the pants, jackets and suits to create entirely new silhouettes; of weaving and knitting incredibly intricate fabrics; and of taking fashion norms and standing them on their head. The grads toyed and experimented with outdated cultural standards, establishing an upcoming generation of designers not constrained by gender, not threatened by diversity, but devoted to openness and ethical practices. These are the disruptors.
Each designer sent out something completely different. Yael Frischling was inspired by Japanese architecture and took an ethical approach, creating exaggerated, red and white woven wool — a collection made with zero wastage. Gina Snodgrass fused typically 'masculine' and 'feminine' fabrics together into hybrid garments reminiscent of kilts — a Scottish symbol of masculinity — all while asking, "when does it stop being a kilt and start being a skirt?" And though sisters Tess and Mikala Tavener Hanks were both on the program, each of the designers stood out in her own right. Through her collection of silks and wool coated in silicone, Tess challenged our use of plastic as something that normally, cheaply imitates or wraps products, while Mikala warped our sense of clothing through visual illusion using tactile imagery and embedded garments — clothes were fused into and onto other clothes with the idea of breaking tradition and subverting common styles.
Sure, this wasn't a Gucci, Louis Vuitton or even Romance Was Born runway show, but it was a show of innovation, creativity and a no-holds-barred approach to design. With these grads, there's no sales manager pushing them to create an easy sell. There are no trends they must follow or categories they must design to. This was simply raw, fresh talent given the platform and resources for total exploration, disruption and creative expression.