RMIT: Fashion graduates star at Melbourne Fashion Festival

Sustainable knitwear, 1960’s Barbie-inspired dresses, and the beauty of heartbreak – here are the stories behind RMIT’s fashion graduates’ collections featured at the National Graduate Showcase.

Amy Lawrance, Phoebe Pendergast-Jones and Olivia Fagan were three of only ten graduate-designers featured in the National Graduate Showcase for Melbourne Fashion Festival on Friday.

The National Graduate Showcase is considered Australia’s most prestigious exhibition for the next generation of Australian fashion design talent.

Fagan, Pendergast-Jones and Lawrance all graduated from the Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) in 2020, with their honours projects hand-picked by the festivals panellists to feature on the digital runway.

The runway is available to be viewed here.

Melbourne Fashion Festival, formally known as VAMFF, is celebrating its 25th anniversary and taking place from 11-20 March.

On 25 March, RMIT will be screening a documentary ‘Dreams, Knits & Heartbreak’ on campus, capturing a behind the scenes look at the build up to the National Graduate Showcase.



Read about the graduates and their collections below:
Olivia Fagan, One Row At A Time

‘One Row At A Time’, is a bold contemporary take on knitwear, created using a 1960’s vintage knitting machine named ‘Bessy’.

Fagan blended historical and contemporary knitwear with an emphasis on colour, form, texture and line.

Her collection is based around her love of exploring and questioning the relationship between fashion and art.

Around 80 percent of the collection was made from second-hand yarn sourced through eBay.

The collection also produced minimal waste as they were made in one go on the knitting machine.

Fagan said she was initially apprehensive doing a collection that was purely focused on knitwear but was able to thrive while studying from home.

“I found the passion during lockdown. I just threw myself into it because we were all at home and I was just sitting at the machine for hours on end,” Fagan said.

“The pandemic forced me to think on my own, without having teachers and students there to bounce ideas around it.

“It allowed me to be really creative in that process and not put too much pressure on myself.”

More of Fagan’s work can be found on her Instagram here.

Phoebe Pendergast-Jones, Honeymoon Phase

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Pendergast-Jones’ collection, ‘Honeymoon Phase’ was inspired by heartbreak and longing, turning the emotional vulnerability of a breakup into something beautiful and celebratory.

Instead of exploring heartbreak in a conventionally bleak way, Pendergast-Jones looked at the ability to transform those feelings into something loud and colourful.

Her collection used light silhouettes contrasted with a particular roughness.

The centrepiece of her collection was dramatic dress with a three-metre long train at the back, utilising around 13 metres of fabric.

“I liked the thought of having this moment that is quite theatrical, with the air catching under the fabric,” Pendergast-Jones said.

“I had to use a little chain in the hem – which is actually a trick Chanel uses in their tweed jackets – so that when it’s moving, it splays out and you see the full effect of the printed design.”

Since graduating from RMIT, Pendergast-Jones has set up her own label Phoebe’s Angels.

Amy Lawrance, Dreams On Paper

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‘Dreams on Paper’ is a colourful mix of old and new, inspired by the history of home-made dress making.

The collection used rich textures and joyous colours, created using delicately layered materials and a mix of hand and machine sewing.

Lawrance drew inspiration from historical items laying around her house, including a Vogue Home dressmaker’s manual from the 1960s and psychedelic prints of Barbie clothes that belonged to her Mum.

“Once the lockdown hit, I started looking at objects around my house that are intrinsically tied to the history of home dress making,” Lawrance said.

“Looking at these objects, I started thinking about materiality and ways of replicating the colours and textures of these items through fabric, and that’s where the collection launched from.”

Lawrance said she was rapt when she found out her collection had been selected for the National Graduate Showcase.

“I was always really keen to apply for the National Graduate Showcase, but I guess considering only ten students are selected nation-wide, I really didn’t think I’d have a shot.”

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