Student creativity astounds during Melbourne Fashion Week

RMIT University

From striking 3D digital avatars, to burqas, bikinis and sustainable garments, RMIT fashion students have risen above COVID-19 restrictions to show their incredible talents during Melbourne Fashion Week.

Melbourne Fashion Week’s Digital Student Runway will showcase 20 RMIT students, including three from the prestigious Bachelor of Fashion (Design), (Honours).

Oscar Keene embraced the virtual format, creating digital avatars wearing non-gendered garment prototypes that will be on show alongside collections by Tijen Bozdemir who explored her family’s Islamic faith through generations in ‘Burqas and Bikinis’, and work by Kristine O’Loughlin created entirely from end-of life garments and scraps from Melbourne Fashion label, Arnsdorf.

Associate Dean Fashion and Textiles and Design, Ricarda Bigolin said she’s been blown away by the 2020 cohort and what they’ve achieved.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before, these students have created amazing work, taught themselves new digital skills and shown outstanding agility and resilience,” she said.

Bigolin said the graduates are well positioned to work in an industry that has fundamentally changed following the pandemic that hit the globe.

“We’re at a point in time that will change fashion design forever. Materials have been scarce as global trade routes and industry production conditions that have often relied on negative and exploitative practices for fast supply have been disrupted,” she said.

“The number of students thinking about these issues and about sustainable practice has skyrocketed this year.

“They are thinking about working in a much more circular way and understanding the lifecycle of products and materials.

“Those completing studies during 2020 have been forced to deal with this new reality since they just haven’t had the same access to materials.

“I’m thrilled that we’ll be seeing incredibly ethical and responsible practitioners emerging.”

Emerging fashion and design talent

Oscar Keene created digital avatars with garments that Bigolin has described as captivating and nothing like they’ve ever seen in the school before.

Oscar says they strove to create a non-gendered space with their digital fashion garments.

“Everything I made is intended to be non-gendered and I’m trying to create a non-hierarchical relationship between the human body, the environment and the materials,” they said.

“As a designer, it’s so easy to feel like you’re the manipulator of something, but I don’t think that’s altogether true.

“I think the fact is that the things that we interact with have an impact on us as designers and as wearers.

Tijen Bozdemir grew up in a Muslim family and describes her collection as an inquiry into the generational diminishment of religious faith within her family and an insight into her own contemporary Islamic practise.

“In this collection, the intersection of the burqa and the bikini is a way of exploring these themes,” she said.

“I looked at family archives and photos as a source of inspiration and found it interesting that the imagery of my parents and grandparents was less modest than I’d previously imagined.”

Bozdemir said she’s now excited to be showing at Melbourne Fashion Week and looking forward to starting her own business.

“The Graduate Showcase is something that I’ve wanted for six years now so for it to come to fruition, I’m really happy.”

Kristy O’Loughlin is interested in sustainable fashion and circularity and used scraps from fashion label Arnsdorf to produce her garments.

“My collection looked at restoring value to waste, I sourced used end-of-life garments from my local community and manufacturing waste from Arnsdorf, where I’d been an intern,” she said.

“I enjoyed embracing the constraints that using waste gives you and letting that inform my design.

“I had to cut differently, and I did lots of weaving, knitting and quilting scraps together to rebuild the materials to be workable again.

“RMIT has amazing facilities but we weren’t able to use those specialist machines and studios because of pandemic restrictions this year.

“I created a weaving loom out of cardboard at home, and utilised hand knitting as well as using my own sewing machine.

“We’ve all become super adaptable this year and that’s a good skill to learn for life.”

View the student collections at Melbourne Fashion Week online here.

Image captions

RMIT student Oscar Keene created a digital avatar collection for his final year of studies.

RMIT student Tijen Bozdemir explored the diminishment of her family’s Islamic religious faith through generations in her collection titled ‘Burqas and Bikinis’.

RMIT student Kristine O’Loughlin’s sustainable collection was created entirely from scraps from the Melbourne Fashion label, Arnsdorf and end-of-life garments from her local community.

/Public Release.