Costume design was included for the first time in this year’s Flinders University-TAFE SA ‘Sisu’ graduate parade.
The 29 graduates’ work in the annual HomeStart Fashion and Costume Graduate Parade was livestreamed and enjoyed by 500 guests at the sold-out Adelaide Convention Centre event (19 March 2021).
Rio Mignone won the 2021 HomeStart Fashion Graduate of the Year award. Her label Studio Yio’s range – titled ‘Where have you been, darling?’ – was designed to give “girls an opportunity to finally step, uninhibited, into their alter ego”.
A new award, the 2021 HomeStart Costume Graduate of the Year, was won by Alex Stephens. Her Aurora costume collection included the gown and headpiece created for a reimagining of The Sleeping Beauty ballet as a 1920s film drama.
The annual parade provides a platform for graduates to show off their design credentials to family and friends and, importantly, to key personnel in the SA fashion industry.
The graduates of the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Fashion or Costume), a dual award offered by TAFE SA and Flinders, presented their collections (five outfits) which range from feminine, elegant gowns to on-trend separates and futuristic streetwear.
The emerging designers have drawn on cultural and aesthetic influences from India and Japan, and revisited fashion and film from decades past.
Indigenous storytelling, classical ballet and a fictional world of magic have helped inspire the elaborate costume collections, while Renaissance art, Greek mythology and nature and the changing seasons are among the sources of inspiration for the fashion ranges.
Created during 2020, some collections have been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is reflected in a more relaxed styling and emphasis on comfort or with the introduction of protective elements.
Three key awards were announced at the 2021 Sisu parade, including generous HomeStart Finance cash awards to the most outstanding graduate in both the fashion and costume programs.
The Lecturers’ Choice Award recognised the graduate who was the most consistent over the three-year course.
This award was presented to Kat (Katherine) Hill – whose TAK by TAK range opened the show. Inspired by fashion from the 1960s, her collection met the criteria for “creative, well-made garments, and use of techniques to manipulate or enhance fabrics and design”.
Flinders University Professor Peter Monteath, the Interim Vice-President and Executive Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, congratulated all of the students for working through the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
“The judges had a really tough job selecting the winners,” Professor Monteath says, congratulating all exhibitors on some “fabulous work”.
HomeStart’s Chief Executive Officer John Oliver congratulates the graduates on their hard work and creativity during a challenging year.
“It’s really pleasing to see that South Australia is continuing to produce such talent and building on the reputation it has established for producing world-renowned fashion designers,” Mr Oliver says.
Bachelor of Creative Arts (Fashion) graduate Isobel Davies uses fashion as a form of self-expression so it’s fitting that her designs have caught the eye of the arts community.
At this year’s Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition, she received the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Award recognising an emerging female artist.
“The award was so unexpected, but fashion is ‘my art’ so it was great to be acknowledged in the arts community,” Isobel says.
She says her graduate collection, produced under the label Haus of Billie, began as an exploration of identity and evolved into a “visual representation of me and how I feel about the world”.
There are five outfits in the collection including an exquisite beaded overlay worn with shorts made from strips of hand-woven fabric covered in handwritten poetry, and a voluminous dress created from layers of tulle and hand-sewn smocking panels.
“The beaded outfit was about me creating a sanctuary in a cage, and the tulle dress represents a patchwork personality,” she says.
Isobel has been sewing since she was a child and she says studying fashion was the only thing she wanted to do when she left school.