Interview with 4 Australian Designers Dion Lee (Ultimo TAFE), Lee Mattews (UTS), Robby Tjia (UTS), Christopher Esber

A must read: http://www.jigsaws.com.au/jigsaws-articles/2008/4/24/young-blood/

Young Blood
Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday April 24, 2008

Stephanie Wood
From Star Wars to jigsaws, four up-and-coming designers tell Stephanie Wood what inspires them.

Dion Lee

22, Newtown

What's his story? In the tiny spare bedroom of his mother's home, fashion student Dion Lee creates garments that mark him as a face to watch. Among them: a black dress trailing handmade ropes that used 200 balls of wool and was inspired by the symbolic Tibetan concept of the eternal knot, and an interlocking, four-in-one tailored jacket for which he received an unprecedented 100 out of 100. Lee is one of four hand-picked 2007 TAFE Fashion Design Studio graduates to present a group show at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week this month. "I'd like to see where the collection takes me," says Lee, of the 20 "looks" he will present.

So what's his look? "It's a sophisticated but industrial aesthetic with classic elements."

Where does the inspiration come from? Lee's work has recently been fuelled by inspiration gained from construction and anatomy - specifically the concept of cell mitosis, in which a cell duplicates the chromosomes in its nucleus to generate two, identical nuclei. On the face of it, that might result in a frenzy of polka-dotted pieces - the dots alluding to cells - but not for the cerebral Lee. He thought of cell mitosis in a conceptual sense. "It's taking the idea of one thing dividing into two, and an ongoing cycle of change," he says. That thinking informed Lee's panelled, heavily layered silk-organza pleated A-Line dress with a tailored collar (right), one of the looks he'll present at fashion week. The dress's multiple panels are based "on the idea of separation and growth"; the diamond-shaped cream panels lift off, as does the wool-silk collar.

Anything else? Architectural lines, scaffolding and construction. Lee's workbook features photographs of buildings, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas' extraordinary work-in-progress, the CCTV headquarters in Beijing.

"I have a construction-based interest in fashion," says Lee.

"I spend a lot of time on patterns."

Lee Matthews

26, Wahroonga

What's her story? Matthews, who last year wrapped up her four-year Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles at UTS, is working as a freelance designer and planning her next move. On the cards is a move to London at the end of the year and, in the not-too-distant future, the launch of her own label. Early last year, she was one of three UTS students chosen to go to Paris to compete in the Lancome Colour Design Awards world final, in which fashion students interpret the cosmetic brand's spring/summer make-up collection through clothing designs.

So what's her look? "It's very avant-garde; very geometric and structural. I try not to be too conventional and I work against a commercial aesthetic."

Where does the inspiration come from? As Matthews started to prepare her graduate collection late last year, people told her she was crazy. Enthralled with the work of Richard Sweeney, a British artist who creates complex sculptures by modelling, folding and pleating paper, Matthews used cardboard to drape a mannequin instead of the usual calico. The final result - hard interlining and plenty of boning giving shape to silks, linens and poplin (left) - fell in softer lines than the cardboard but still, the collection was a study in structure and form. "I try to create new silhouettes on the body," says Matthews. And her well of inspiration has a long way to go before it runs dry. So far, she has confined her paper-into-fashion experimentations to oblong shapes. Next up? Curves.

Anything else? Origami first piqued Matthews' interest in paper. "I thought if I could translate the paper into the fabric then it would be a new way of looking at fashion." Architecture also figures: pinned up in her workroom at her parents' Wahroonga home are photographs of masterpieces such as the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Christopher Esber

21, Parramatta

What's his story? When Christopher Esber heads to Paris in August he'll take a portfolio of work boosted by the looks he presents at Australian Fashion Week this month in a group show with three other students from the TAFE Fashion Design Studio. "It's a little holiday and an opportunity quest," says Esber of his trip. And if the collection he shows is well-received and orders flow in, he's ready to go into production mode. Esber has also invested money to develop fabrics, importing yarns and working with the Australian Spinners and Weavers Guild.

So what's his look? "I like to balance pieces that are approachable and wearable

with pieces that are a lot more offbeat and conceptual."

Where does the inspiration come from? Esber's reversible wool and leather "puzzle coat" (left) refers to the jigsaw puzzles of the work of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, who often explored mathematical theories. "I was drawn to his work: it was very precise and almost looked computer-generated."

Anything else? More mathematics. Esber's father was a maths and science teacher and, although maths wasn't his son's strong point, his daily "show me your homework" demands left their mark. "I always thought 'I'm never going to do maths' and then I do pattern making, and it's pretty much all maths," says Esber, who has explored the Fibonacci sequence and the physics theory of "wormholes" in his designs. The organza shirt (left), for example, refers to the theory with its sleeves, which join at the back. "Wormhole theory is like a passage between two universes... I try to create the portal between each surface and you see that at the back with the joining sleeves." Over the years, Esber has also found inspiration in "the whole Adam and Eve thing". He is currently developing a "kitschy fabric" that depicts a garden of eden merging with an "industrial, neon wilderness".

Chair from Edit.

Robby Tjia

24, city

What's his story? Indonesian-born Tjia has segued from designing clothes for his UTS graduate collection, which he presented in December last year, to conjugating French verbs in preparation for a move to Paris later this year. "My supervisors kept telling me, 'you can't stay here, you have to go overseas,'" says Tjia, who did a three-month internship in London with English designer Alexander McQueen through the '06-'07 northern winter and hopes to get work with Givenchy or Balenciaga when he heads to Paris in September. Tjia came second in the Lancome Colour Design Awards world final in Paris in May last year.

So what's his look? "It's very contemporary, sometimes futuristic. I want to give women superior strength through the garment."

Where does the inspiration come from? After the Lancome Colour Design Awards, where he unveiled garments with strong 18th-century influences, Tjia knew he wanted to do something futuristic or space-age. The muse for his graduate collection, "the Underground Cyborg", was Star Wars and its robots. "I tried to come up with how women in the future might look, and how I might [translate] the look of robot armour into women's daily garments."

The result? A layered black patent leather calfskin cape offsetting a cotton striped dress with white vinyl trim, black patent leather and calfskin detailing, and laser-cut metallic detailing (above).

Anything else? Tjia's inspirations come from multiple sources. "I always have a little black book with me," he says. Tjia's lively MySpace page reveals more: his love for black and white, for geometric shapes - and for a marionette theme. During his time in London, he came upon the work of illustrator Richard Gray, who had painted a marionette. That sent an intrigued Tjia off on an exploration that resulted in drawings featuring circus motifs, trapeze swings, merry-go-round unicorns and women on strings or with wind-up keys in their backs. (s)

1 comment:

  1. This is indeed worth the read. Inspiring.




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