One additional year of study has enabled emerging fashion designer Rosanna Li to push her creative abilities to the limit and graduate with a Bachelor of Fashion (Design Technology).
After completing the two-year Associate Degree in Fashion Design and Technology, Li pursued the one-year pathway intensive Bachelor of Fashion (Design Technology), where she gained advanced technical skills and professional knowledge, giving her the ability to compete in the fashion world on a global scale.
Why did you choose to study a degree in fashion design?
I was born and grew up in Melbourne in a fairly academic family. Before studying fashion, I studied music, languages (Chinese and Japanese) and international affairs in Washington DC. I have lived and worked in Japan and America and I also taught for a short period in Australia, and, despite enjoying these experiences, I had always felt a bit out of my element.
I realised that the one time I truly felt at home was when I was looking at art and design or doing creative things. I knew a career change in the creative direction that focused on my love for fashion was the best option for me.
Tell me a bit about your style.
RMIT provides a wide range of cutting-edge technological tools for students to access freely during their studies. It has given me the ability to really experiment with my creativity, something that otherwise would be beyond reach.
The Brunswick location has also been a place where I can draw inspiration from as it has a certain level of grunge and quirkiness that is strangely liberating. However, the idea of innovation and change has always resonated with me. I’m always looking for new things or new ways to change things and find myself constantly imagining alternative possibilities to the norm.
My aim throughout my designs is to make them minimal and playful with an emphasis on clean form and colour. I find there tends to be a bit of a Japanese aesthetic creeping into my designs, which is where I also draw inspiration from.
What motivated you to continue your studies through the Bachelor of Fashion (Design Technology)?
During the Associate Degree in Fashion Design and Technology, I undertook a study exchange program at Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). It was an incredible experience that enabled me to see the exceptional standard of work being produced. Fashion design is quite a competitive industry and this trip made me realise that I needed to really push my creative abilities further in order to compete on a higher level. It was this that made me decide to further my studies by completing an additional year to obtain a Bachelor of Fashion (Design Technology).
This additional year was a magical experience in terms of design inspiration. Critical methodology was taught by mentors who were extremely knowledgeable, experienced and sophisticated in fashion design and construction, and were just classy people in general.
This particular program emphasised the technological side of things, which was an aspect of the industry that I was really interested in.
There were only a small number of students in the class, which provided a very intimate environment where we were able to gain one-on-one mentoring. I found this kind of setting to be very nurturing and extremely beneficial in developing and fine-tuning skills.
Tell us about your graduate collection.
A fashion creation is usually the result of a combination of inspirations that flow together; it's just a question of staying open and playing with all of the elements. I was able to really stretch my abilities and step out of my comfort zone for my graduate collection by incorporating packaging into my designs. I was interested in different shapes that fit the objects we consume in everyday life, such as boxes. Packaging is a vibrant design area in itself with similar aims to fashion, which is to protect and attract. Parallels can also be drawn to the issues both packaging and fashion face, such as sustainability and waste, which was something that I found quite interesting.
I used a version of 3D CLO Enterprise, one of the leading global software applications at the moment for 3D virtual prototyping, tracing out box die cuts and virtually draping and playing with them to taste. For me it was all about the process. Sketching, digital collage, manual draping, Cubism, manual and digital flat pattern techniques, deconstruction and construction as a design process are all things that intertwine with the virtual prototyping process that I was able to investigate and learn about.
I discovered a paper-like fabric called Tyvek, which I decided to use as it held large shapes well and tied into the idea of packaging. Inspired by the paintings of Gerhard Richter, I used hand screen-printing to add a human, visceral element to cold, hard technological results. At the very last minute, the whole world of camping supplies came into the collection when I started thinking about human nomadic needs and context for my creation. It just goes to show that the creative process is never ending and the possibilities on what you can create and incorporate into your collections are endless. The only limitation is your imagination.
I also had another idea that I am yet to pursue, which was a poet soldier who wanders disillusioned into the hot jungle and comes out part man part plant. I'll save that little gem for next time though.
What are your plans for the future?
I would love to work in a team involved with technology and fashion design in an international context. I enjoyed working with 3D virtual prototyping so I think that would be a great area to look into. In five years, it would be amazing to be able to see that my work has made some kind of a positive impact on the world; economically and socially. My own label? Sure! Most designers dream of making it big but we’ll see how it goes. As long as I am able to stay stimulated and productive, I will feel fulfilled.
What advice do you have for any students wanting to pursue a career in fashion design?
If you’re like me and know deep down you need to create to be happy, then fashion is one design area that you should consider. It’s a rewarding practice that is worth every risk and all your effort, and, over time, you will feel so elated with inspiration and skills. Be prepared to constantly push yourself despite everything and definitely don’t play it safe. You have the ability to have as much fun as you can and learn about all sorts of odd and unconventional materials and techniques if you reach out and give it a shot.
The Bachelor of Fashion (Design Technology) is a one-year qualification for graduates with an Associate Degree in Fashion Design and Technology. The bachelor degree prepares students with advanced technical and professional knowledge in fashion design for an ongoing creative career in the fashion industry in Australia and overseas.
Story: Mikaela Ortolan