What made you signed up for the FTM course?
In your own words, what is FTM?
Advice to anyone else who wants to study FTM?
Harry recently completed his diploma of applied fashion design and technology at Kangan.
Having grown up on a farm two hours north Adelaide, Harry decided to move to Melbourne at 22. Before studying fashion, Harry had worked nearly over six years as a photographer digital-retoucher, working at studios and with photographers for his own business. Having a love for fashion , but was unsure if he could ever become a designer. That all changed one day at Kangan's open day. They required a portfolio of which he didn’t have one, Harry didn't even know how to sew but took his photography portfolio in to show them. " I told them I was starting off without any background knowledge but this was the creativity, and the drive I brought to the table, that I would work hard, and somehow I got in," Harry says.
You've just completed your Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology, Tell us what you've experience during your time at Kangan.
Having just finished my diploma, I can tell you my education in fashion design has just begun. I’m planning to return next year to start my advanced diploma. I never want to stop learning!
I never came from a fashion background, and before Kangan I’d never really sewed besides a few stitches at home many years ago. My first few weeks were an overwhelming surge of self-doubt. Thanks however to some teachers who gave me the support I needed as well as mule like sense of stubbornness that wouldn’t let me give up.
Certainly one my biggest ups so far would have to be receiving the Technology Award at last year’s fashion show, and then almost falling off the stage after being taking one too many sips of wine…
Kangan has become a home and a family in my time there, with all the love, fights, support that comes with it.
Most difficult thing you've had to learn since studying fashion design?
The trick is to keep breathing… just breath god damn it! I learned that just because something goes wrong it’s not the end of the world. If the fabric shrinks, just go with it, make it the best you can do and make sure no one can hear you swear at your mannequin for inexplicitly changing size since the last time you tried on the garment.
Favourite part about being a designer?
The creative process, finding an idea that spills into an image, then an object. Sometimes I feel like I’m turning energy into matter, and nothing makes me happier.
Have you completed any internship since studying? If so what did you learn during your internship?
I had an internship with Rollie (www.rollienation.com) this year, a very cool Melbourne based shoe designer whose process was very tech orientated, always using new programs, new tech, and anything he could to keep his processes moving forward.
It was an amazing environment to be in, I observed that with a small and smart team how much work could be done if you were smart and adaptable enough. The owner/designer Vince Lebon showed me a ton of different ways I could do what I was already doing easier, faster, and better.
What do you aspire/ hopes/ dreams to eventually be in the fashion game?
This is the question I’m asked most often, but also the hardest for me to answer…
I’d love to start my own label, fashion that is beyond mainstream trends.
The saying goes ‘you can’t choose your family, but you can your friends’, and similarly you cannot choose your body, your skin, but you can wear a new skin, and I think that’s what fashion should be.
What was your inspiration behind your final collection?
For my final show garment this year, which I called Bio, I was inspired by the metamorphic and whimsical qualities of the moth/butterfly. I loved the metaphor as a personal story from camouflage to evolution and growth. I used 100% linen and created the print for the skirt using a photograph I took of tree bark.
Also do you have any side projects on at the moment?
I’m really enjoying using my break to work on my digital and traditional drawing. I’d like to use more of my own art to create textiles as a move forwards which makes things so much more fun and personal.
Anyone you aspire or look up to in the design industry?
There are a TON of people I look up to in the fashion industry, designers, photographers, hair/makeup/drag artists, models, and stylists. I have a special place in my heart for Garth Pugh, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier and an extra gaudy place for old school Heatherette.
Advice to anyone wanting to study your course?
Enjoy everything! Don’t be lazy!
So many people just turn up and expect the system to turn their work into something amazing, but it won’t, it can’t, it’s all about taking the small things as opportunities to learn and to stand out!
Special Thanks to Harry!
Quick Foxy Questions
Summer or Winter?
Omg Winter! More layers to play with, no sweat, and no damn sunburn!
My favourite item in my wardrobe?
Recently I went with the VM students of Kangan on their trip to Japan and found some fashion stores that blew my mind! Right now I’m obsessed with this vest.
One app I'm totally into right now is….
My sister sent me this app the other day called Good On You (goodonyou.org.au) it’s an amazing app that follows the ethical and environmental impact of different Australian fashion retailers!
Right now I’m really into the band Chvrches, Sia, Garbage. But I listen to everything from Within Tempation to Rupaul.
Most difficult thing you've had to learn since studying fashion design? Knitting! My hands just don’t seem to get it...
You’ve graduated rmit with two courses under your belt and you specialise in wool construction!
Tell us what does that entail? And when and how did you know you wanted to specialise in that area?
I've graduated from two RMIT courses. The first I completed was the Associate Degree in Fashion Technology where I made the choice I become a knitwear major. I carried that through to my second course where I completed the Bachelor of Applied Science (Fashion Technology). At the beginning of the first course students we offered the choice to do main stream or the knitwear component after industry feedback to the university said there was a lack of skill in this area. I've always loved knitting, my grandmother taught me when I was young so I decided why not learn the industrial side of things. I am of the first ever to graduate from the knitwear major, I'm one of only 6. It's similar to the main stream course however it's more specialised and at certain times we had more classes and I feel, a heavier workload... But that's just personal opinion!
what inspired your collection? And during the event how did you come about your garden theme? It was so adorable I loved it!
Thank you! Last year I visited Monet's garden in France on a study tour with uni. I fell in love with the beauty and vibe of the place. while it was so visually rich there was this overwhelming feeling that I just can't describe, it was luscious, full of time and just gorgeous. I used this inspiration an earlier collection which was actually lingerie and then carried it through to the dresses you seen on the night. I also drew inspiration from traditional handcrafts such as crochet, beading and of course knitting. As I have a strong passion for handcrafts it is always present in all my collections.
I was fascinated by your story on your crochet daisy dress, what inspired you to do this
At the begging I was really suffering from a creative block, one day I was experimenting crochet flowers to create earrings, and I just thought if I could crochet a lot of then why not make a dress? And really that's how it come about, it sort of just hit me...
What pros and cons did you encounter while creating such a beautiful piece?
When I'm asked this it's easy to think of the cons, being an end of year piece for uni I found it quiet stressful. The dress is made from over 450 crochet flowers with a Swarovski crystal attached to the center of each and I had to work solely to tight dead lines as well as create the other pieces and of course all the rest that goes with completing an assessment. The pros are obviously the beauty of it. Hand made is always precious and while at times I did find it stressful it was worth it, I completed it... I made something timeless and gorgeous and that I'm extremely proud of.
During the night you explained to me how you added the metallic yarn within your dress, explain to everyone how you did this?
For this particular dress I created it on an industrial knitting machine which I worked closely with a knitwear technician to achieve. The metallic yarn is called lurex, which I used in a technique called plating. The dress was made using a whole garment machine- which means it literally came off the machine as a finished garment. So anyway, plating is achieved by running two end of lurex through the machine keeps on the inside of the fabric that is being knitted. We call this side the technical back. For the teapot motifs the stitches are reverse so that the backside comes through the front as so the silver picture of a teapot appears. It can be difficult to describe without using knitwear lingo, which won't make sense to people with no industrial knit knowledge.
What are your future plans?
I’ve just recently moved into a studio in the nicolous building on Swanston street. My plans are to work in industry to fund my dreams of running my label Casey Marie.
What advice do you have for future students in the industry?
My advice to students is to stay positive, keep true to yourself and focus on the bigger picture of getting yourself to where you want to be.
I am currently studying Bachelor of Fashion Design (Honours) at RMIT University, in the city campus. I have just completed my 3rd year and will be working on my final graduate collection next year in 2015.
What was your theme for your collection? How did you come up with the idea to use the materials you used and why?
My theme was all about the fascinating changes in nature- emphasizing the journey from caterpillar to chrysalis (cocoon) and finally to butterfly. Therefore; I wanted to use materials, textures and colours which embodied this poetic story of a shift in structure, form, colour and persona. To show the varying tones within nature’s creations- I hand-dyed the green fabric used in the first caterpillar dress which exposed pattern and added depth and dimension; bringing the ‘creature’ to life!
To mimic the texture of the caterpillar. I used a heat gun to create bubbled shibori on the green gown. The chrysalis garments signified the ethereal, delicate stage of the butterfly encased in the cocoon, vulnerability represented in the sheaths of tulle, delicate and transparent, sheer fabrics which encased the female form. Lastly, the butterfly garments were uplifting and vivaciously coloured - using patterns, structural forms and feathers to symbolize this new-found form that has just hatched and has been freed!
Another contributing factor to the materials used in my designs; was the ease of movement that I had to ensure I provided for the models and dancers, especially.
What was the process for creating your garments?
In my fashion practice, process to me is just as vital; if not more important than the final product. The process of design is magical when I let my imagination go wild and pages come alive.. When fabric is manipulated and a transformation of shape and form takes place...and when a thought finally comes into fruition! It is why I am a designer.
For this collection, I was under time pressure- having only about a week and a half to produce five out of the six garments I showcased. I began by trawling through my visual inspiration books filled with my research on metamorphosis. Sourcing the fabrics and trims sparks more inspiration as to what to create; and I begin to drape on the stand. I use quite an organic, spontaneous approach to design- surrendering to where the process takes me- often simultaneously working between draping on the stand to flat pattern-making and sketching. I used a mixture of hand-stitched finishes and details; as well as machine-made.
My design process/philosophy
‘A single thought: a seed of inspiration sown, lovingly nurtured from paper to fabric until it blossoms into a beautiful, honest reflection on life itself'
Explain your idea and inspiration to have your collection presented so theatrical?
I wanted to design a collection that will take the audience on a transformative journey of profound change; representing the transient beauty of nature through wearable art. A dreamlike concoction of vivid colours and inspired textures to let one’s imagination take flight…. representing the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to butterfly in an out-of-the-ordinary way. It had an important narrative to tell and I wanted the audience to really connect and feel. Fashion has the capability to move people...if you let it!
I find awe and wonder in the simplest things in life; and wanted to produce a show that emphasises the often dismissed changes in the world that surrounds us- resulting in a more theatrical, exaggerated show. I have a background in the performing arts- and I thought that an event like ‘First Kiss’ would be the perfect opportunity to combine my two passions! I teamed my wearable art, conceptual garments with an evocative mix of contemporary and lyrical dance to portray mood. I believe that music and dance is incredibly expressive- the idea of movement can speak louder than words and can entrance one into a fantastical world! I wanted the garments themselves to have a personality- each portraying the three stages of metamorphosis: the quirky, elegant caterpillar, to the whimsical, delicate nature of the chrysalis….to the beautiful vibrancy of the newly freed butterfly. When the model or dancer put on the garment; my aim was for them to embody the character through how the garment made them feel.
And lastly what do you eventually want, to create your own label or work for a label
In the future, I endeavour to create my own fashion label. It's something that I have dreamed of since I was young. I am a very individual person and would love the freedom to establish my own unique mark in the local and international fashion industry. However, when I graduate I hope to travel overseas and work within the industry for other labels first to gain experience and skills that I hope to apply to my own label someday.
Follow my design journey on Facebook:
or www.jacintaraquel.com (website currently being updated- under construction)