Tropical flowers, cocoons and cacti were all features of the RMIT Floral Fashion Trophy at this year’s Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
Using flowers and plants, eighteen Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) students produced garments over two-days in the Great Hall of Flowers at Carlton Gardens, responding to an Emergence theme.
Showcased throughout the five day internationally renowned show, the Emergence garments proved extremely popular with the large crowds of gardening and design enthusiasts and also made an appearance on popular lifestyle television program Better Homes and Gardens.
Renae Cusmano, who won the $1500 first prize with her cocoon themed garment, said winning felt surreal, but she was also very proud and honoured to have her creation recognised.
“Working with plant matter was a dramatic change from material and it altered the way the garment would have been constructed, which challenged my creativity,” she said.
Felicity Mawson, who placed second, said she hoped fashion industry figures would take note of her garment while it was displayed at the Show.
“RMIT offers prestigious opportunities, like the Flower and Garden Show, or Fashion week, where students get to show their work for industry figures to see,” she said.
“Being able to work purely with plant matter was challenging, but it was really wonderful to step away from the typical 'fashion' and those expectations of using cloth and creating garments.”
Associate Lecturer at RMIT’s School of Fashion and Textiles, Tarryn Handcock, said the judges were extremely impressed with the creativity of the students' work.
“The Emergence theme prompted careful consideration of how plants used in the designs would transform through blooming and growth,” she said.
“Renae's winning cocoon dress includes pockets of edible seedlings that continued to sprout throughout the show.
“Competing in the event places them in a unique position globally; it challenges them to work under tight time, budget, and material constraints.”
The brief stated garments should be produced using at least 80 per cent plant material.
So in preparation, prominent Melbourne milliner and School of Fashion and Textiles alumni Richard Nylon, who also judged the competition, hosted students for a workshop to provide advice and guidance on methods that could be used to preserve and present flowers.
Students also sought inspiration from documentaries and time lapse films on the lifecycles of plants.
There was a tie for third place, with judges unable to split Sherry Kwok’s paperbark, cacti and succulent inspired piece, and Anlin Lan’s tropical flower inspired garment.
Judges highly commended Jordan Condor and Mia Lee’s garments.