Image: Joseph Jang's handpainted dresses made from recycled denim and calico. Now on display at The Light Factory Gallery.
This week I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by renowned fashion editor Janice Breen Burns. She was the fashion editor at The Age for over twelve years and is now the editor at Voxfrock. Jan has kindly written a feature on The Ethics of Style, which can be read in full below:
20 JUNE 2013
Voxfrock found two books, vital as bibles for Paris and New York, and met two impressive young women, one a curator, one an importer, both passionately concerned – in disparate ways and from opposite ends of fashion – with fostering fine quality and good design.
Sigrid McCarthy, 24, curated The Ethics of Style, a breakthrough exhibition opening today at The Light Factory Gallery in the Melbourne suburb of Eltham. “Breakthrough”, because Miss McCarthy elegantly addresses the nose-crinkling myths of her subject matter. “That stigma against sustainable fashion,” she says, (and Voxfrock knows what she means.) “The assumption it’s all hemp sacks, ill-fitting clothing, that it doesn’t value good design.” (Voxfrock also observes, the crinkler myths are often broken by good designers, but as quickly built up again by a mish-mash of bad designers also working in fashion’s fast-evolving sustainable/ethical niche.)
Miss McCarthy’s plan of attack involved three avante-garde fashion designers, Gemma Anastasiou, Rachael Cassar and Joseph Jang, known in certain circles for their striking aesthetics and sustainable methods ranging from recycling and low wastage, to strict ethical supply chains. “I chose these designers because they blend ethics and beauty seamlessly,” Miss McCarthy explains. “And, I hope they’ll alter people’s perceptions.”
She selected works by the trio that err on the spectacular side of wearable. Each illustrates a particular sustainable fashion technique, from dye methods to heat bonded flower petals. She complemented the mannequins in the gallery’s sleek, airy space, with a series of fashion illustrations by Michel Canetti, the internationally renowned Kerrie Hess, Christine Pan, Angie Rehe, Caitlin Shearer and Edwina White.
Most of the artists link loosely into the sustainable fashion idea by their own ethics. Others, such as Miss White, who works on recycled paper, and Miss Rehe, who uses even the smallest offcuts to avoid wasting materials, are more directly engaged. More than anything, their works sharpen the exhibition’s focus on high fashion and help unhitch it from that “ill-fitting hemp sacks” myth. “I also wanted to showcase the beginning of every great design – the sketch,” Miss McCarthy says. “I wanted to bring this whole idea (sustainability) to a wider audience.”
Miss McCarthy took time out from her professional writing and editing studies at RMIT to curate the exhibition. “I am a rookie,” she says, with a passionate tone. “But, we can’t go on the way we are, producing so much (fashion), and having such a high consumption rate. Some people think (sustainability) is as simple as buying an organic shirt. It is so much more. There is a slow fashion movement that encourages people to think about changing the way they shop, take better care of their clothes, and have a more curated wardrobe of better quality rather than impulse buys….”
The Ethics of Style – Sustainable Fashion, is her plug for a better future. It runs until July 21 at The Light Factory Gallery, 21 Brougham Street, Eltham, (03) 9439 1206.
An official opening sponsored by Naked Range Wines will be held this Sunday June 23. Many of the artists and designers will attend.
A “refashioning” workshop, by Peppermint Magazine writer Leeyong Soo will be held on Saturday, July 20 and a fashion illustration workshop by artist Angie Rehe, will be held Saturday, July 27, a week after the exhibition’s official close.
Thank you Jan for your support!