The names you need to know.

Words by

Tara Smith

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival has kicked off 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.

Ahead of Sunday's show, we thought you’d like to get to know the designers for yourself. Meet Victoria Bliss from RMIT.

Describe your collection to us.

My collection is essentially me as a designer. It embodies everything I strive to practise and communicate in my work. This collection is based on my heritage and identity from my early years in Scotland. Aesthetically, the collection has been different to my previous work but embodies the same design ethos and making process, which I am very passionate about. The collection includes a series of bespoke, tailored jackets as well as handmade shoes, bags and jewellery.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere, even in the dullest of places. The morning commute on public transport has always been a favourite!

Did you have a specific wearer in mind when designing this collection?

Strong women - physically or mentally. I want the wearer to feel empowered in my clothes. This collection is dedicated to the strong women in my life, some who will be at the show and some who aren’t with me anymore. 

Can you explain your design process?

My initial design process is very research-based. I like to explore my own identity or experiences, whether it be landscapes or cultures I’ve encountered. From there the whole practice is rather organic. I find I do my best design development through the actual making process. I hate the idea of scribbling on a piece of paper and passing it off to a maker. I need to be able to feel the cloth, manipulate it and work with it, see how it falls on the body. 

What materials do you work with and why?

I constantly strive to work with natural fibres, from a sustainable perspective and for the wearer’s comfort. I aim to produce garments that are lifelong investments for their owners. I also love working with leather. I use vegetable-dyed leathers rather than tanned/treated skins so they’re very raw and easy to blemish and distort. 

How has where you’ve lived influenced your collection?

Dramatically. I’ve really loved researching my family history and also going through all my memories of how I perceived elements of my upbringing. It is a very personal collection and I’ve really loved creating it and researching the symbolic nature of tartan. 

What’s the hero piece of your collection?

It can be a bit of a love-hate relationship at times. At the moment my hero piece is a tartan gown. A bricolage of the whole collection, it has elements of tailoring, eveningwear and leather craftsmanship. 

What do you listen to when you create?

Absolute silence. I find when I’m working, I get into the zone very quickly and just drown out all noise. My housemates are seriously wondering if I'm deaf!

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference. 

What’s in store for 2017?

Straight after VAMFF, I'm off to New Zealand for the iD International Emerging Designer Awards! But right now I’m just thinking of the next big project. I can’t keep out of the studio!


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