The future of fashion.

Words by

Anastasia McInerney

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is underway and you should be making room in your schedule for fashion festivities.

We’re proud to return as the Supporting Partner of the National Graduate Showcase, presented by AMP Capital. 

You know it’s a runway worth seeing when it features a lineup of Australia’s best up-and-coming graduate designers, like Rochelle Bramich of Whitehouse Institute of Design.

We caught up with the graduate to find out a little more about her collection, before it hits the runway at the Royal Exhibition Building on March 19. You can pick up a ticket here.

How does it feel to be selected as one of the best graduate designers in the country?
It’s like falling in love, or Christmas Eve when you’re five years old. No one can take that feeling away from you. Being from a small town, you feel as though a lot of things are out of reach or impossible to achieve. To be considered one of the best graduate designers in the country is surreal. After all of the blood, sweat and tears (literally); the self-doubt; the sleepless nights; the negative bank balances.
You describe your collection 199X as “a collision of couture and Melbourne culture.” Talk us through this.
I find streetwear is often misunderstood. I have taken it upon myself to change people’s perceptions of streetwear – by taking it from traditional colour palettes, fabrics and techniques, to a collaboration between Melbourne’s culture and high-end couture. I’ve united a personal nostalgia of the ’80s and ’90s hip hop era with classic silhouettes, muscular hardware, high-end craftsmanship and refined detailing.
Your collection is very much an ode to Melbourne. What do you love most about Melbourne’s street culture?
I have been in Melbourne for three years and what I love the most about this crazy city is the people. Melbourne’s street culture is so diverse. I love how you can walk down the street and in 30 seconds you’ve walked through and experienced numerous worlds, and an abundance of cultures, styles and characters.
So, there’s no black in your designs…
I want to offer Melbourne something new and fresh. I want to take us out of the dark, monotonous colour palette of black, black and more black and open our eyes to see how beautifully-coloured our city really is. 
During the conceptual stage of the design process, I took a photograph of a flaking pink and green concrete wall in Fitzroy. From there, my colour palette was decided and flourished into a streetwear collection that would contain no obvious blacks or dark colours, simply to be different.
Were there any other influences for your collection? 
On a personal level, my family were definitely my biggest influences. Being half-Filipino, half-Australian, I wanted to pay homage to my family and my background. I took a lot of inspiration from diversity and multiculturalism. 
When I'm in my element, either designing, sewing or editing, I always listen to hip hop. It makes me focus and zone into my own little creative realm. 
If you could have anyone in the world wear your designs, who would it be?
Speaking of musical influences, J. Cole. He’s my all-time favourite artist. He does with music what I want to do with design: speak the truth.
Do you think recent discussions about gender fluidity have impacted fashion, and more specifically, streetwear?
One hundred per cent. I designed 199X as a streetwear collection, but not specifically as a menswear collection. When you look at all of my garments, you can’t tell if they are for men or for women. Streetwear isn’t about defining your sexuality or your gender, it’s about knowing yourself (whoever that may be) owning it, valuing it and screaming it out to the world. 
I think it’s important to remember fashion is forever evolving and the further along we progress, the fewer rules we’re expected to follow. This is why fashion is so great. With thought-out design, you can literally change the ‘rules’ of anything. Especially gender. 
What does 2017 hold for you?
I would love to be working as part of a design team here in Melbourne, or intern at either a streetwear label or denim house. Travelling and working overseas is definitely on the cards as well. The possibilities are endless! I’m so excited to see what opportunities this experience with VAMFF brings. 


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