Good People: Model Rhondell Williams

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(from L-R Mable Daylight, Letisha Gabori, Rhondell Williams, Alma Williams)

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) which was held earlier this month, hosted an exciting fashion showcase celebrating Indigenous design- Birrimbi Dulgu Bajal. The showcase celebrated the vibrant cultures of Far North Queensland, through an integration of dance, music & fashion.

A number of models from North Queensland and the Torres Strait were invited to participate and share story and tradition on the contemporary catwalk. One of those models was the amazing Rhondell Williams (pictured second from the right). In her own words, Rhondell shares her story and a bit about her journey to VAMFF.

I grew up surrounded by lots of mums and dads.

My Mum is one of the traditional owners of Bentinck Island and Dad is from Birri Country of Mornington Island. I spent a lot of my young life at the outstation of Birri, watching the stars at night as Pa Johnny Williams explained what the stars meant and the traditional stories of our mob.

He was one of the famous Woomera Dancers in his young days.

He travelled all over the world. He is still a very respected elder and artist in our community.I still like to watch him paint, sit down with him and listen to him yarn- learn about our culture and country- and hear him explain what he’s painting that day.

My Mum Betty is also an artist.

She paints at the art centre (Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation) and she makes lovely silk felts. One day she came home excited- telling us her collection was going to be debuted at a Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Who would have thought that I would become one of the six girls selected to take our art all the way to Melbourne!?

We girls were so excited to be a part of the show. It’s funny to think that in the not too distant past, we were running along the beach as kids- fishing and camping- even hunting for wild honey, goannas and wallabies. Goanna is my favourite tucker- especially cooked over coals…and it’s true- it tastes like chicken!”

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Being Bashful with Teresa Redrup

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Winter has well and truly settled itself into Sydney, bringing with it biting winds and frosty mornings. One of the upsides of the cooler months however, is the stunning selection of styles full of chunky knitwear, lovely layers and diverse textures.

In preparation for the change of season, I like to stock my wardrobe full of colourful cardigans, scarves and tights and as an avid online shopper (the internet is full of bargains!) I am always on the hunt for new stores full of sustainable fashion.

Teresa Redrup is the brains behind Bashful Garter, an online shopping destination that supports local Australian and New Zealand designers. It is fast becoming one of my ‘go to’ sites as it has a unique aesthetic and a strong commitment to quality design, boasting labels like Kowtow, Penny Sage and Romance Was Born (along with a pretty awesome blog!)

Here, Teresa talks about the birth of Bashful Garter and shares her tips on conscious consumption and creating a chic winter wardrobe!

I have been in the fashion, bridal or costume industries my entire working life.

I have also acted in a few roles which saw me having to communicate with a number of offshore manufacturers. In the last few years working in these roles, I came across more and more information about poor working conditions in various places around the world and it made me think about how little I knew about the people I was working with. It also made me realise how hard it is for consumers to get a good idea of what’s going on given they are even further removed from the process. I considered getting out of the industry for a while but I couldn’t imagine what else I would do with myself!

I guess the idea for Bashful Garter stemmed from a desire to work in the field that I knew and loved, but to do so with a clearer conscience and with more control. I wanted my business to be thoughtful and considered as well as beautiful.

I like to think we are creating our own little Bashful Garter feel and aesthetic which is very important to us.

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(photo of Teresa Redrup)

We are guided by the desire to be as responsible as possible, which makes us a little different from many online stores.

We choose to work with local Australian and New Zealand designers that manufacture locally, as the industry here really needs the support. I also feel like I can stand by these products as being well made. We love working with designers who are championing fair trade and organic fabrics and dyes.

It’s also important to me that they manufacture to a certain quality as I want everything we stock to have a decent life-span. I think really highly of all the brands we stock and am pretty pleased to have them in our little shop!

It’s really easy to walk into a mall and find $50 jeans and $15 tshirts at the moment. Sadly, that’s the extent of ‘the story’ shared with the customer.

I think it’s easy to ignore some really poor manufacturing practices when people are so disconnected from the ‘story’ of their clothing.

The garment industry here is not that big and most people today don’t sew at home. That can mean we have less understanding of the process of creating fabrics, dying and printing fabric, creating a pattern, cutting and sewing a garment and that lack of understanding can make it harder to see the value in items of clothing.

I’ve always found so much joy in making things and spending time with other makers. Making is magic to me! It’s a form of meditation and expression. It has been my means of income for years and also my hobby.

I love documentaries about craft and couture and have a shelves full of textile books. To me fashion and textiles was always this really romantic thing. I felt the ‘story’ was great and something that should be shared, not something to be swept under the carpet.

It’s something I am trying to communicate more and more on the website as I feel like it’s a massive part of appreciating things. And I feel that if more people appreciate what they have then fast fashion wouldn’t be the norm.

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There are lots of easy, little ways of being more conscious in how we consume fashion. My biggest tip is to buy the best quality you can afford.

I know everyone has different budgets, but try to think long term and spend a bit extra on things you truly love and will wear regularly. All fashion has some impact on the environment, so make sure that what you do buy is well made so it won’t fall apart easily.

Take care of your things- learn how to darn or find a good alterations place that can do repairs and wash delicate items by hand.

I try to select versatile pieces for the shop that can we worn in different ways in different situations, dressed up or dressed down. I’m not really into dress codes as such. I tend to just wear what I want and put more effort into my hair and make up and sling on some heels if I am attending more of an ‘event’. I don’t like having clothes sitting in my closet waiting for an appropriate occasion. Only buy things you love and wear them.

Merino wool and boucle are big favourites of mine for Winter.

I love the Penny Sage jumpers and big boucle coat. I like the slightly looser shapes for winter so I can layer up underneath. I really like the cold and tend to go to town with layers. My feet need to be warm, my head needs to be warm and my coat has to have pockets!

There is a great material that a few of the designers have used this Winter- a bonded nylon, which is a bit like scuba diving material. I’m loving it as it’s thin and achieves a tailored look. It stands away from the skin but is really insulating. The cold wind doesn’t get through it at all. It’s also really easy to care for, easy to wash and hard to damage.

Lately I’ve been wearing…

The Romance Was Born Mr Bears a-line skirt on high repetition and the Arnley Rivoli dress. It’s the perfect little black dress for Winter as it’s great as a dress with tights and also with nice pants underneath.

And finally, it’s not strictly a style tip, but one winter I couldn’t shake the cold and seemed to be sneezing and coughing for months. A friend recommended I put Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of my feet before putting shoes and socks on. Best advice ever! I do this all the time now and it really does keep my feet warm.

Shop for your winter essentials at the Bashful Garter online store.

Celebrating Social Media with Bronte Hogarth

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Fashion Revolution Day is fast approaching (it’s this Friday!) and it’s one of those rare advocacy campaigns that has a truly international feel. On April 24 each year, it aims to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion and celebrate those who are creating more sustainable fashion futures.

Organisers are encouraging people to use the hashtag #whomademyclothes and ask their favourite brand more about their manufacturing practices and ethical commitments. It’s a great example of how social media can be used to bring together a global community of like minded people. It got me thinking about the role of social media in advocacy, campaigning and culture.

Bronte Hogarth understands this world better than most. She is Head of Communications at 1 Million Women, a homegrown organisation that knows how to work the web, make messages meaningful and connect people to power. Bronte is a driver, thinker and social media guru. A self confessed ‘beach girl,’ she is passionate about food, conscious living and turning old things into new things.

Here, Bronte talks about how social media can influence sustainable change and shares some of her own favourite fashion labels and tips!

I’ve been involved in 1MW since the very start and am continually inspired by the work we do.

My mum, Natalie Isaacs, is the founder so the ethos of 1MW has been pretty ingrained in me from a young age. I strongly believe that driving behavioural change is vital if we are to preserve the future of our planet. That’s exactly what 1MW is all about – showing that you can live a full and succulent life, with fewer negative impacts.

I spend a large part of my working life ‘online’ and the use of social media varies greatly depending on the cause.

But…something that’s similar across all campaigns is this ability to build communities of passionate and engaged people who want to share what they are seeing and also share the fact that they are a part of something. That’s how you reach and inspire more people.

Social media is extremely important for 1MW and our community grows bigger everyday (which I hope means we’re inspiring more and more people!) We have members in our community from all over the world, which is something we never imagined would happen when we first started. Our social media engagement has a lot to do with that.

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Humans are curious beings and social media plays to this part of us.

Fashion Revolution Day did extremely well last year in creating interest in the campaign through hashtags and a photo challenge where people took a selfie with their clothes inside out. It’s such a wonderful cause and another example of the online world bringing passionate people together, to tell the fashion industry that business cannot continue as usual.

The internet however is flooded with people trying the same tactics, but what makes something successful is when people can easily connect to it. Most people on the planet can connect with Fashion Revolution and to the issue of ‘who made your clothes.’

I have a few favourite sustainable fashion labels.

The Reformation is one. They use deadstock and sustainable fabrics which otherwise would have gone to waste and everything is produced ethically in L.A. I also love the simplicity of New Zealand based label Kowtow who are 100% certified organic and fair trade. I discovered a fantastic vegan shoe label in Brazil called Insecta Shoes, which recycles vintage materials to create beautiful oxfords and loafers.

I also love vintage and second hand clothing. I ran my own online vintage clothing shop for a while and customised a lot of things myself. About half my wardrobe is vintage, so if you can learn how to sew then you can easily make small changes to vintage pieces, to make them more modern or fit you better. It’s a fun and creative way to recycle rather than buying new all the time.

And finally…

I hope that fashion and the act of getting dressed will become more thoughtful, and perhaps even business models will move away from being reliant on people buying more and more things all the time!

Creating ‘Shop Girl’ with Kerist Klekner

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Shop girl Flower girl is a haven of eclectic goodies in Canberra’s inner north. The place is part florist, part gift store and is always full of surprises. In the few times I have visited, I have bought gorgeous gifts for newborn babies, luscious lip balms and quirky jewellery designs.

The thing that makes this store stand out, is that as soon as you set foot in the place, it feels like you are entering someone’s living room. It is small, inviting and earthy. There is certainly nothing ‘mass market’ about this place and looking around, everything emanates quality.

Owner Kerist Klekner says much of her professional career has been leading her to the point of opening this stunning sanctuary. A lover of the simple and practical things in life, she says she can’t connect to ‘colour, clutter or complicated.’ This sentiment certainly shines through in the space. Here, Kerist talks about her journey into retail and why it’s so important to her that the products she stocks remain linked to their maker.

Having worked in retail for over 20 years, becoming a shopkeeper was a natural progression.

In all the jobs I’ve had, I’ve ended up taking ownership of my positions whether it was in my department in one of my first jobs in Target as a teenager, or working my way up to ‘second in command’ for a local franchise owner. It was my last job working for a shop fittings company that really pushed me forward. Speaking to lots of other small business owners in Canberra filled me with the confidence to try it myself.

My first store, The Style Emporium, which I ran for 10 years, came from a desire to bring something new to Canberra.

There were barely any independent traders at that time and I was excited to build something for myself. Coincidentally, this store also emerged at a time when lots of designers were taking the plunge into production and wholesale.

Over the years I formed wonderful working relationships with my suppliers, most of whom were small business operators, designers, small scale manufacturers and people passionate about what they were bringing to the Australian market. It was these relationships that really clarified what sort of a shop I wanted to create.

I wanted products with a story that went way beyond a factory floor. I wanted products that were well made and ethically produced.

My new store, Shop girl, Flower girl reflects that and takes us to the next level. It’s in our dream location in the heart of the inner north community. Whilst the field has been broadened to include products brought in from overseas, I still only try to source items that have a relationship with the maker.

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The element of flowers and nature really sets the tone for our store and I think that’s what sets us apart.

We love using beautiful, seasonal, old fashioned flowers in the space. We hope to involve the local community in the future and source some of our flowers and foliage from gardens in the neighbourhood.

I’ve never been all that interested in mass produced homewares, furniture and fashion.

I rarely read magazines, although I have embraced Instagram and find it really inspiring. I just love a beautiful product, made from natural materials, that has simple lines and above all-is useful.

I’m a discerning buyer (perhaps a little hard to please!) with a desire to create a beautiful home and a wardrobe that is timeless. I’m a self confessed homebody and the complete opposite of a hoarder.

The three items I couldn’t live without are…

My iPad, knitting needles and sewing machine, as I’m a bit of a maker myself!

Stay up to date with Shop girl, Flower girl on Facebook & Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Shop girl, Flower girl.

Creative Costuming with Jennifer Irwin

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The Sydney season of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Patyegarang ended last night, with yet another inspired performance on the Sydney Opera House stage. (After being so popular, the season was actually extended!) The show now tours the country, ready to wow audiences the nation over.

I saw the show twice and was blown away by everything from the choreography to the historical tale itself, but as usual, I couldn’t shake my fascination with the style and design aspects of this stunning production.

After having had the opportunity to chat to one of the Bangarra dancers earlier in the season, I was fortunate enough to recently steal a few moments with costume designer Jennifer Irwin, to chat about how she started out in the industry, the creative process of costume design and how she creates style with purpose.

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Firstly, how did you get involved in cosutume design? Is it something you always wanted to do?

I did an art course and then I did a technical theatre course which helped me to connect with a regional theatre company in the late 70s, but my first real job was with the Sydney Dance Company.

I actually majored in scenic art but I knew that I could always sew. I became a costume assistant at the dance company in 1980 and I stayed there for 16 years on and off and that’s where I met Stephen Page. Our generation of people in dance all kind of grew up together. And of course, Stephen and I got along very well and he went off to start his company and through our connection, I had an opportunity to go and work with Bangarra.

I’ve known Stephen for over 25 years, right from the early days when Bangarra were doing very small projects. In fact, I have worked on most of the Bangarra shows over the years from the very first one to now. The thing about working in a dance company is that it’s a little family.

The dance industry is one I’ve been in for years and I guess that’s due to the fact that I’ve just been at the right place at the right time and now, it’s what I know and love.

Can you tell us a bit about the creative process of designing for a show like Patyegarang?

We start with getting together with the creative team- Stephen, the set designer and I. You’ve really got to break down the scenes and the looks at the beginning of the process.

Being a non Indigenous person, I often bring a more abstract design approach because I don’t want to appropriate anything I shouldn’t and I want to remain respectful of protocols. You’ve also got to design for practicality and ask yourself whether someone can get in and of a costume between scenes for instance and balance that with representing the creative vision. It’s really an evolving and collaborative process.

I work with a lot of companies but I particularly love working with Bangarra because it is much more creative than working with drama or other disciplines. Stephen also understands and respects what I do, so I have quite a bit of creative freedom.

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You have worked with Bangarra for a long time, what makes Patyegarang special to you- how would you describe it to people?

It’s special in that its set and music came together so well and when you step back and look at it, you are genuinely happy with what you’ve contributed and know it all works together. It’s very mesmerising the actual show. It’s another incredible story that is largely untold and we are here, sharing something special. It wasn’t a hard one to work on at all. Some productions are, but not this one. I don’t know why. It’s just a great story that works.

What’s next for you?

My next project is doing Giselle with the Universal Ballet of Korea, but it will be an absolutely contemporary version of an old classic. I’m going from one to the next!

You can find out all the dates and venues of the Patyegarang National Tour on the Bangarra Dance Theatre website.

Images courtesy of Bangarra Dance Theatre

Hustle & Scout with Tegan McAuley

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The capital’s Hustle & Scout market is only two days away and once again, is set to be a bustling marketplace of unique, quirky, eco friendly and local Canberra design. For regular readers of this blog, you’ll know that the ’roundabout city’ holds a special place in my heart. It was my hometown for over five years and despite its reputation for being beige and bureaucratic, its creative scene is thriving (heck the New York Times even calls it ‘hipster’). Canberra now has its own fashion week (yes you read right!) and is producing some exceptional talent, like up and coming photographer Sally-Forth.

In my eyes, the Hustle & Scout market is the ACT’s answer to Finders Keepers, but with a truly local twist! I caught up with founder Tegan McAuley to find out more about how she put her stamp on the Australian style scene.

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The Hustle & Scout market is such an innovative idea- how did it all come about?

Early last year, I was feeling an urge to do something with my life that was both creative and bigger than myself. One night, my husband Simon showed me a video featuring the wise words of philosopher Alan Watts, who asks the question, ‘what would you do if money were no object?’ That night, we talked about the things we loved. For Simon it was cricket and coaching and for me, it was all things design and fashion. That week, Simon launched a cricket coaching business and I decided to found a new fashion design market!

Hustle & Scout didn’t just come about from Alan Watts’ motivational clip, it was also born out of months of observing Canberra’s design scene grow and flourish. I came to realise, particularly after attending the inaugural Fashfest 2013, that Canberra was home to a very talented network of fashion designers whose collections I had never had the privilege of seeing up-close. And so, I decided my fashion market would create a space where people could meet these designers, feel, try and buy their innovative pieces and have a fun night out at the same time!

For me, it was important to form a point of distinction from other markets, and this had to be rooted in the way it made people feel. So, I worked to curate an event with atmosphere that provides people with an experience. The market not only showcases Australian designers but also local live music, roaming models, food and cocktails and other exciting things like fashion photoshoots and parades.

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Why do you think it’s so important to support local, homegrown and ethical design through a market like this one?

Today, our shopping malls are full of chain stores selling cheap, ‘fast’ fashion with little transparency into how garments are produced. It’s becoming more and more difficult to buy handmade, one-of-a-kind and sustainable fashion pieces in these retail environments – this is why markets play such an important role in our communities.

Markets represent an important means through which people can come together to speak to designers and makers face-to-face and learn about how a garment was made and the inspiration behind the design. For me, supporting local, homegrown design through a market event is also an extremely important step toward strengthening both our communities and Australia’s fashion industry at large. It may only be a small step, but if we can create more demand for Australian and ethically-made items, hopefully we will see less Australian designers forced to pack-up shop due to the fast-paced pressures of the international fashion industry.

Many people don’t realise that the Canberra style scene is truly on the rise. What do you think makes it such a creative city?

There is definitely a movement happening across Canberra at the moment. As the city expands, so does it’s creative population. Unlike some major cities, Canberra has a wonderful, tight-knit sense of community, which has encouraged people like myself to innovate and collaborate with other creatives. Since starting Hustle & Scout, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have jumped on board to support the event and get involved in any way they can. Other events such as Fashfest, have really helped to put Canberra’s fashion scene on the map in recent years.

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Your next market is coming up in just a few days- what can we expect from it? Any labels you are particularly looking forward to seeing?

The 5 July winter market will be the largest market to date! It will feature 42 fashion stalls, three local live music acts, roaming models by April’s Caravan and $10 apple cider cocktails by Palace Electric. New pop-up street food market The Forage, will also showcase lots of Canberra’s finest cafes, restaurants and mobile vendors.

New labels I am excited to see include womenswear labels Eva Cassis, Fabboo and Audrey Blue, which all produce beautiful, modern pieces using natural fabrics and sustainable materials. I am also very excited to see some of our new jewellery labels, including Paul Krix and Sarah Bourke.

The thing I am most excited about for this market is our collaboration with Vinnie’s 2014 Winter Appeal. At our upcoming market, the Vinnie’s Night Patrol Van and its volunteers will be taking voluntary gold coin donations and accepting donations of blankets and men’s socks and gloves. There is a serious shortage of these items in the ACT at the moment for those sleeping rough this winter, so I feel very privileged to be able to help in any way I can.

And finally…Canberra is a city that enjoys beautiful wintery weather- what are your top style tips for the cooler months?

My style tip for the cooler months is to layer, layer, layer! Also, don’t be afraid of colour – whether you throw on some red lippy or brighten up an outfit with a vibrant scarf, a splash of colour can totally lift your outfit. Lastly, before heading to the shops to buy that brand new winter coat, consider scouting out some op-shops or vintage retailers first.

Etiko Excellence with Nick Savaidis

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Etiko is a fairtrade fashion, footwear and sports gear company that has been around for almost a decade. I wrote about Etiko last summer, when they released a series of ‘thongs for good,’ asking Australians to put one foot forward for a cause. Now they are back with a brilliant new partnership, having recently teamed up with not for profit organisation Not For Sale, who help victims of human trafficking and modern day slavery.

Once again raising awareness (and funds!) through style, they have jointly created some tees, for this very important cause. I caught up with Etiko’s founder and director Nick Savaidis to find out more about this creative campaign.

Your new partnership with Not For Sale is very exciting. Can you tell us a bit about how it all came about?

We have been fans of Not For Sale for years. The work they do is incredibly important and it’s awful that in this day and age there is more slavery than ever. The fashion industry is not immune to it. As recently as last year, slave labour was found in the supply of cotton from Uzbekistan. Not For Sale have done a great job in raising awareness and educating the public about this.

Through this campaign and the other great work you do, what are the main messages you would like people to ‘take away’ about ethical production?

I want people to realise that there is no point in just talking about ethical production because everyone knows by now that child sweatshop and slave labor exists. Nothing is going to change until everyone becomes not only a conscious consumers, but also a conscientious consumers. That is, to be aware of the impact of their purchases, especially on their fellow human beings who produce the products which end up in our homes and on our bodies.

For those who aren’t as familiar with your brand, can you tell us a bit about Etiko and the work you guys do?

Since 2005 we have been developing and marketing eco friendly and ethically produced footwear and clothing. Last year Etiko was ranked the most ethical fashion brand in the 2013 Australian Fashion Report and our sneakers were voted as the 2013 Fairtrade product of the year.

What are your top tips for shoppers who want to become more conscious about what they buy?

Don’t be scared to ask retailers where their products come from and if they know if those products are free from child sweatshop and slave labour.

Don’t be afraid to do your own research. Jump on the Internet and educate yourself on these issues. We have found that a lot of our customers discovered Etiko by simply searching ‘ethical or Fairtrade products’.

Look for genuine ethical accreditations for international products such as the Fairtrade label that you see on some coffee and chocolate brands. For Australian made products, look for the Ethical Clothing Australia label, because surprisingly sweatshops exist even in Australia!

We need people to tell their retailers that they genuinely do care about how the products they buy are sourced and that it’s not just about finding the cheapest item.

You can find the tees and all of Etiko’s ethically made and Fairtrade certified products at http://www.fairtradeshop.com.au

Going solo with Sally-Forth Heaney Garzoli

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Sally-Forth Heaney-Garzoli is not a name you forget, but it’s not just her marvellous moniker that has captured attention. At just nineteen years of age, she has emerged as one of our most promising photographers and is currently holding her very first solo exhibition at Canberra’s PhotoAccess. You may remember I have written about Sally-Forth before. She was my wedding photographer when she was still in high school (yes, she is that good!) won a People’s Choice Award for her elegant photo portrait and has one of the coolest and quirkiest senses of personal style I have ever seen.

With plans to move to Melbourne in 2015 to further her creative education, I caught up with Sally-Forth to talk about her exciting exhibition, the creative underbelly of the nation’s capital and what parts of her upcoming European adventure, she hopes to capture on camera.

Can you tell us a bit about your current exhibition and what it means to be involved in it?

My exhibition is called Shifted: scapes and figures. This photo series explores the transition between day and night as well as landscape/interior-scape and portrait. I was really inspired by film stills, nature and pre-Raphaelite art.

It’s on at PhotoAccess in the Canberra suburb of Manuka and I’m sharing the space with two other artists, photographer Christine Rufflet who is exhibiting Circus Dreams and installation artist Danny Wild who is exhibiting Thought Cues. It is a real privilege to be a part of this exhibition. Both Christine and Danny’s works are amazing and I think we complement each other really well.

How would you describe the Canberra arts scene and what makes it unique?

To be totally honest, I feel like I am too young to really be a part of the Canberra arts scene so don’t really know much about it. I did some photography at Hustle & Scout which is an independent design market organised by the amazing Tegan McAuley. I do reckon that the Canberra arts scene is on the make. From what I can see it mixes art, design, music, fashion and multi-media and is supportive of new ideas and approaches.

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You are about to head off to Europe for a few months. Can you tell us a bit about what your plans are? What are you most looking forward to photographing over there?

At the moment it’s all kind of up in the air. The current plan is to base myself in London and just travel around whenever and wherever I like (and just hang around until the money runs out!). I will definitely be going to Barcelona, Amsterdam and will also travel around Italy for a bit. I’m planning on going to France and Germany and if I can, I would love to go to Turkey and Denmark.

I’m not really sure what I’m most looking forward to photographing. I guess everything and anything. It is such a good opportunity to take photos in new environments and I don’t want to waste that.

What’s next for you? Do you have any plans for more exhibitions? What is inspiring you at the moment?

The next big thing for me after travelling, is the move to Melbourne to start uni and hopefully, I’ll continue to take photos when I can.

I do have another exhibition coming up in early 2015, in a small rural city called Griffith, which will be cool. The gallery space is much larger than PhotoAccess so I will have the opportunity to play around with installation as well as photos. The new exhibition will be a bit of an extended version of my current exhibition.

In terms of inspiration, I am really loving Paolo Roversi photos at the moment. I think they are all so amazing. They look like paintings and they’re just so beautiful. I also work in a small independent shop called Shop Girl Flower Girl and am constantly surrounded by flowers, so that has been inspiring me lately too. I would love to do a photo shoot with lots and lots of flowers as part of the set. I think that would be really cool.

I’m also getting inspired by the usual things like films and artworks that I see around the place as well.

Shifted: scapes and figures is showing at PhotoAccess in Canberra until 29 June.
You can also keep track of Sally-Forth’s success on her website.

Loving NICO with Lis Harvey

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Ethical undies might not be the first thing that come to mind when you think of conscious fashion, but Queensland designer Lis Harvey is putting sustainable smalls on the map.

NICO Underwear was launched in January 2012 and has gone on to win international fashion awards and become Australia’s very first ethically accredited underwear line. The lively label aims to fill a gap in the market by creating fashion forward lingerie that isn’t as basic as Bonds, but doesn’t have the ‘va va voom’ of Victoria’s Secret.

Their pieces are quirky, cute and most importantly, conscious of the environment. I caught up with the lovely Lis, to chat about NICO’s current collection, ‘The New Imagery.’

Congratulations on the new collection! Can you tell us a bit about the story behind it?

Thank you! The new collection is all about luxe fabrics, contrasting textures, striking lines and stand-out shapes. I really wanted to approach designing from a new perspective and subvert some of the ways we would normally do things.

The collection was heavily influenced by the De Stilj movement which happened back in the 20’s & 30’s, where a group of artists were asking similar questions and looking for a new way to express themselves. They talked a lot about the idea of finding ‘The New Imagery’ which is where the name of the collection comes from. We explored using asymmetrical shapes and the relationship between opposing elements and textures to create a collection that is conceptual but still remains true to what NICO is all about – unique, stylish lingerie that is comfortable enough to wear everyday!

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Do you have any favourites or ‘must have’ pieces?

I have been living in the Poet Tee (above) at the moment, particularly the midnight blue version. It’s great with a some dark denim for an almost ‘all in black’ look that’s still fairly casual. Perfect in winter as well as the double layered jersey at the top keeps me nice and toasty.

NICO is so committed to ethical practice and ‘no waste.’ Why is it such an important part of your brand?

The simple answer is that I couldn’t do business any other way. These are the ethics that I live by personally and there is no way I would compromise that for the sake of a profit margin. Exploitation of human lives and destruction of the environment are rife in this industry but I refuse to take part in it. It’s so encouraging to see a growing audience of consumers who are asking for change and holding brands accountable for their actions.

What’s next from you guys? Any new collections in the works…what’s inspiring you at the moment?

Lots of big things on the horizon (as always!). We have started working on a range of basic pieces which we hope to release later in the year. It’s going to be all about great fabrics, simple cuts and affordable pieces that everyone needs for the everyday. Stay tuned!

You can purchase items from ‘The New Imagery’ collection on the NICO website.

Making Scents with Sally Woodward-Hawes

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My blog presence over the past few months has been patchy at best. You probably noticed. Partly it’s because I have just started freelancing full time and am trying to wrangle the overwhelm that comes with being self employed and partly it’s because I haven’t been entirely sure about what I wanted this blog to be.

So I decided to bring it back to basics and think about what it is I am actually passionate about. And that’s people. What’s most fascinating to me about the initiatives, issues and ideas I care about, are the people behind them. So, I have decided (finally) that Thinking Fashion will be a platform to share their stories. When I read articles or hear about amazing things, my first response is usually ‘I wonder who came up with that idea?’ and ‘what’s their story?’

Each week (hopefully!) I will profile at least one inspirational person who is making waves in the world of sustainability, social justice (or other areas of ‘good’) using style as a vehicle or a lense.

So to kick things off officially, I would like to introduce Sally Woodward-Hawes of Aromantik.

I came across Sally at my local Saturday markets when I first moved back to Sydney about two years ago. Her natural and organic handmade perfumes quickly became regular fixtures in my bathroom cabinet and her delightful unisex fragrance ‘Merchants of Menace’ is now my signature scent. I even wore it on my wedding day (and so did my husband!)

So here we go, making scents of Sally.

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How did Aromantik start and what’s the philosophy behind the brand?

Strangely enough I became drawn to perfume through an old box that I inherited when my mum passed away when I was 17. Inside were bottles of her favourite fragrances – classics such as ‘Joy’ by Jean Patou, and ‘Opium’ released by YSL in the year I was born (1977) . When I sprayed them I felt an instantaneous connection to her again – it was as though she was standing beside me. I was struck by the intensity of the memories that can be triggered by scent and this led to my obsession with fragrance. I wanted to create something that would trigger memories in people and take them out of the moment to another time in their life. I love the romance of this concept – of smelling a fragrance that reminds you of your first love, or of a place you visited. This is what still drives me today – creating the potential for memories and keepsakes.

What has influenced your commitment to natural and ethical beauty?

It wasn’t until I started doing some research into what actually goes into most mainstream beauty products and fragrances that I became aware of the issues. Our skin is our largest organ and anything we put on it is absorbed into the bloodstream. People are often shocked when they hear this, but medical technologies often utilise skin patches to deliver potent drugs through the skin so it definitely makes sense that we need to be conscious of what we put on it. Also, most commercial fragrances use petroleum derived materials and many of them are now found in our oceans and waterways. I have a real issue with synthetic musk. As a matter of concern, polycyclic musks are now being detected in blood, breast milk, and even newborns due to their prolific use in fragrance. This is actually what led me to create ‘merchants of menace’ as I wanted a 100% natural alternative to synthetic musk. It’s one of our bestsellers and my signature fragrance.

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Can you tell us a bit about how the perfumes are made and where you get the inspiration for the amazing fragrance names?

I have now been making natural perfumes for over ten years. I source my raw materials (being natural essential oils, absolutes and extracts) from all over the world. Some examples of this are vetiver oil from Haiti, vanilla oil from Madagascar, rose oil from Bulgaria and ylang ylang oil from the Comores. I could go on and on! I usually start out with an idea, or a key ingredient in my mind – it could be a memory, or just a feeling I have and then I will sit down and start to create accords that complement each other. Working through the base notes, heart and head notes of the fragrance can be a long, painstaking (and expensive!) process. Some fragrances have taken me over 2 years to create, others come together very quickly. Some materials that natural perfumers use in their palette cost over $10,000 per kilo. The rose oil I use from Bulgaria takes 3,000 to 5,000kg of flowers (more than one million flowers!) to produce just 1kg of rose oil.

As for the names, they just seem to come to me. Sometimes I think of the name first and will write it down and create a scent to fit it and other times the fragrance comes first and then I will sit on it for weeks or months until I find the right name.

If we were to look inside your beauty cabinet, what would we find?

I make most of my own beauty products and this year, I am actually going to be releasing a small range of the things I make, that I swear by. I use mainly face oils and organic rose water on my skin morning and night. I cleanse with Gentlemans Brand Co. face wash, and use the daily moisturiser also (full disclosure -this is my other business with my brother and our business partner). I always wear sunscreen if I am going out in the sun. In terms of make up I use rms beauty uncover up and living luminiser and Jane Iredale mineral make up. In my cabinet you’ll also find Egyptian Magic, Black Chicken remedies, Axilla deodorant and many other bits and pieces.

Check out Sally’s Aromantik website, peruse the skincare on Gentleman’s Brand Co (her other business) and follow her on Facebook.