Student fashion designs shine at the festival

Stuck at home with only her immediate entourage for inspiration, Amy Lawrance used 2020 to create brightly colored clothes that became her escape from the gloom of the lockdown.

The RMIT University fashion graduate spent her honorary year in the kitchen doing what would ultimately be chosen from applications from students across Australia to appear at this year’s Melbourne Fashion Festival.

The 29-year-old, from Bendigo, was honored to be one of 10 designers at the National Graduate Showcase which premiered by video on Friday night.

“I am really delighted to be included and I feel very humbled that they have chosen me,” she told AAP.

Ms. Lawrance describes her four outfits modeled in the virtual runway as “from another world”, “theatrical” and almost “costume-like”.

She was inspired by a suitcase of children’s clothing patterns from the 1960s that she was given and a box of Barbie clothes from the same era.

Ms. Lawrance experimented with geometric and flattened shapes on the body, inspired in part by French designers Pierre Cardin known for his avant-garde style and Andre Courrèges, known for his clean 1960s designs.

She starched and hand-dyed silk fabrics in bright colors and sewed everything herself.

The Melbourne lockdowns prevented her from visiting her family in Bendigo, a short drive away, so she focused on her project.

“It was nice to channel my energy into something creative and positive,” Ms. Lawrance said.

“I found (the clothes) a nice distraction.”

The other nine designers who featured in the graduate showcase were Xizhu Wu, Phoebe Pendergast-Jones, Olivia Fagan, Karis Zanetta, Joash Teo, Gisella Candi, Erin Novick, Carol Lan and Amy Baran.

Ms Lawrance, like her peers, is now applying for styling jobs and is optimistic about her prospects despite the stress the industry has been in since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are events online and in person as part of this year’s COVID-safe Melbourne Fashion Festival, which runs March 11-20.

Venues for in-person events allow for physical distancing while virtual parades have been pre-recorded and online masterclasses are free.

It’s a risk averse approach in the wake of last year’s festival, which was one of the first major events in the country to be canceled due to the pandemic.

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