The future of fashion.

Words by

Tara Smith

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is underway and this year’s lineup of graduate designers looks very promising.

These designers are the crème de la crème of the country’s top tertiary institutions, all brought together as part of the National Graduate Showcase.

Presented by AMP Capital and supported by Fashion Journal, the National Graduate Showcase will take place at the Royal Exhibition Building on March 19. You can pick up a ticket here.

In the meantime, we thought you’d like to get to know the designers. Say hello to Nehma Vitols from University of Technology Sydney.

Describe your collection to us.
Conceptual disarray, urban structure, foliage attitude, no pants party.
What inspires you?
The human mind and its ability to expand and make seemingly unrelated links seem believable. Love, relationships and human interactions, the messiness, the ecstasy, the melancholy and the (un)predictability. Identity formation, social media frustrations and mental health. 
Did you have a specific wearer in mind when designing this collection?
Yes and no. Rather, the collection itself is void of identity or body. It’s an ethereal body, fragments of identity. It’s an exploration of how we project our own identities today through social media platforms by ‘liking’, taking bits and pieces, making sense of the nonsense. The looks are a tactile cut-and-paste collage expression of this.
Can you explain your design process?
Photograph and collage. Repeat. I find my visual brain works so much faster than my 'word brain', so by the end of my project I had four A3 journals full of visuals, collages, gifs. I made so many gifs, because sometimes a collage and a photograph was not enough. Then there were two A4 top-secret journals of my musings, where I figured out the words with scribbles, prose and mind maps.
What materials do you work with?
I like to limit my materials and then let each inform what the design becomes. In a way, it's like I have a playtime toolbox. I get lost in the throws of making and watch as something grows in front of me. In my garment-making toolbox I had silk organza, cotton organdy and Tyvek. I chose these materials for their paper-like qualities, as I wanted the garments to look like my collages.
In my print toolbox, I had a tube of acrylic white paint, copper paint, silk screens, flowers, my DSLR and my smartphone. I chose these because I found them, or they were left over. And well, student life. A girl has got to do what a girl has got to do.
What’s the hero piece of your collection?
I’d like to say it’s the biker because it’s the sweet spot where all the materials and methods and concepts came together.
What do you listen to when you create?
I collage and make to Beirut. The layers and the mumbled lyrics unlock a childhood glee in me where I can just play, get lost in between the notes, where time feels like an eternity, in a fabulously great way. I cut, drape and dance to Milky Chance, Sticky Fingers, Tame Impala, Childish Gambino, Stromae, RiRi, Frank Ocean and Vera Blue. I sew to Frank Sinatra, Hozier, Daughter, The Hook Up with Hannah Reilly on Triple J.
How important is sustainable fashion to your approach?
It was a catalyst for my work. In my collection, there are five archetypal garments. The shirt, bomber, the biker, the blazer and the trench coat. Pocket details and features of each garment have been made from leftover scraps and the sculptural pieces (the dress-like garments) have been made from the leftover fabric. I cut out all the garment pieces so the scraps stayed intact in one whole piece. In a way, it became a zero-waste cutting method.
I used Tyvek as one of my main materials as it is a recyclable, machine-washable, tear-resistant paper, used in construction. Each scrap was individually bonded.
I was lucky enough to be sponsored by Think Positive, an environmentally-conscious digital printer in Sydney. I was able to print only what I needed with minimal waste, which they hand-washed for me, minimising water waste.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Just get it done. You’ll always wish you had more time or you’re battling with a fear of failure. There’s no time for that, and it’s damn exhausting. So just get it done.
What’s in store for 2017?
Big things. Watch this space.


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