People do a lot of screaming and shouting about new fashion.
Probably more than any other cultural area, there seems to be some kind of (possibly peer-dicatated) need to gush and hype about labels in order to convey how good they are.
Unfortunately, this has the reverse effect of acting as somewhat of a quality leveller: between the (really) really good, and the good-but-what’s-the-difference. So how does one escape the shouting to get to the (really) really good, goods?
Well, it’s a simple solution (really!).
You pay attention to those things that take your breath away, so screaming isn’t possible. You make your favourite the designs that elicit that rather quiet, gasping ‘woaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah’.
Getting the most gasps out of Dropstitch this month is local designer Carly Hunter, whose self-titled fashion label has been quietly but steadily growing these last few years into something quite magnificent. Hunter, whose background is in art, first realized the inherent potential of fashion design as a doe-eyed creative youngster of 15: “I didn’t like the fashion that was available at the time, and couldn’t afford the Chanel jackets or Balenciaga dresses I saw in magazines…so, I started sewing”.
After a few years studying fashion at Central Tafe and dressing herself and friends in Carly Hunter creations, Hunter approached Periscope on King Street with some designs. It was only a matter of weeks before they were completely sold out. Despite demand, popularity and sales for Hunter’s elegantly youthful ranges steadily escalating ever since, Hunter has been laying low, gracefully shying away from promotion and publicity. But all that’s about to change, as just the other week at the Perth Fashion Festival, Hunter took out the prestigious first prize of Best WA Student Designer in the New Generation Category of the Natuzzi WA Fashion Design Awards, opening up endless possibilities for the label.
Says Hunter: “The prize, (whilst very unexpected…I didn’t even know the award was happening until the show started!) will help me in so many ways – from getting the label across to stockists here and overseas, as well as increasing exposure to agents and the public, I’ll be able to learn a lot and meet some really influential people”.
The appeal of Hunter’s designs is that they encompass within them a certain complexity: a classic silhouetted trend, such as a high waisted short design, for example, is re-interpreted with an odd and unique touch, so that you look at those shorts differently, in a manner that commands your artistic respect. This is likely due to the careful aforethought Hunter instils into each of her collections.
The Carly Hunter Spring/Summer range is based on the idea of the ‘Umbrella’, and it’s history and function in art, dance and performance. Thankfully, Rhianna does not bear any influence in Hunter’s thematic choices. Rather, “I find inspiration in inventions and objects that go unnoticed in our lives – through other peoples’ inventions I can create new ideas, so it sort of goes in a circle. This range turned out to be quite romantic-looking because of the parasols and costumes used in dance and tightrope walking that I researched”.
The collection, which features an eclectic mix of textured delicates, is hued in a palette of white, silver and black. These simple yet effective colour choices are highlighted by uniquely positioned ruffles and tassles, that are in turn, complemented by awesome touches like irregular lines and ruches, lending the garments an air of what could be simultaneously retrospective or futuristic, intrigue – depending on what you choose to notice.
Explains Hunter of her design process: “I made collages of images and worked from the basic shape and length of an umbrella: when it is open, when it is closed…how it folds up, how it blows inside out in the wind etc. I then looked at the details on parasols, like fringing and gathering: I tried to incorporate all these things whilst keeping the object of creating clothes that are absolutely wearable”.
The importance of wearability offers a consistency across Hunter’s collections, an idea that is reflected right down to the name of Hunter’s label itself. Why Hunter chose to label the collection “self titled”? “I simply couldn’t decide on a name in time! And if i did i would probably have wanted to change it in two weeks!”.
Hunter is a firm believer in personal pride in one’s fashion design “I would never design something that I wouldn’t wear myself,” and the ability to stand on one’s own two feet: “my name is something I am stuck with and so my label can carry that burden too. But also because I am a solo designer I think it is better to work under my own name. Finally, because each collection works under a definite concept, I like to give my collections a bold title and have my name in the background”.
‘Bold’ ideas…Now that’s the ‘type’ of designer Dropstitch loves. Speaking of names, who stands out type-wise, in the Australian fashion world for Carly Hunter? “Akira Isogawa, Breathless Self (Perth designer), Romance Was Born, also Alpha60 (from Melbourne) and Zambesi (from New Zealand…close enough!). Although I really love designers from Japan and Belgium the most”.
And how about Perth street fashion, anything worth getting italicised about? “I’m not too fond of it, when you go over east you can really see the difference,” replies Hunter. I think most people in Perth are too caught up with the trends of the moment, or what Nicole Richie or Sienna Miller are wearing. I guess availability of interesting clothing is an issue in Perth, but there are definitely a few independent, open-minded boutiques here you just have to look harder!” (Hunter shops at Elle, Periscope, LaLaOrange, St Vinnies and vintage shops, for the record!). Continues Hunter: “There are some people who do dress really well and creatively in Perth, but they’re in the minority…but I guess this allows them to stand out from the rest!”.
Standing out from the rest? Now there’s a Capital idea, if ever Dropstitch heard one.
And the ‘key’ to it all (apart from articles written with an over-abundance of typing and acoustics metaphors)?
Controlling the fashion ‘noise’, a shift from brashy, loud, indecisive fashion, to a more quieter label like Carly Hunter’s, strong in its ideas, brimming with function, forethought and individuality (I got six more in there, if you’re counting…).
Shout, shout…well, you can leave it all out – as Hunter goes to show, it’s something you can definitely still do amazingly, without.
The Carly Hunter Spring/Summer Collection can be found at Billie & Rose (Mt. Lawley, Fremantle) and Periscope Clothing (King St, Perth).
Words by Danielle Marsland, Photographs by Sarah Rowbottom