RMIT students bloom at Melbourne Flower and Garden Show

RMIT students bloom at Melbourne Flower and Garden Show

RMIT’s annual Floral Fashion exhibit explored the theme of rewilding fashion at the 2023 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS).

The MIFGS is held in the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens and attended by over 100,000 people each year.

Bachelor of Fashion (Design) students displayed their designs in the Great Hall of Flowers, showing a variety of creative interpretations to this year’s theme. 

The exhibition makes up part of students’ third year assessments and they are given five weeks to create their designs.

Cuong Nguyen’s team won the Dean’s Commendation for their installation of a warrior figure with an armour made of plants. They began with inspiration from images of abandoned urban spaces reclaimed by nature. 

11 April 2023


flower-show-nguyen Nguyen’s installation: a warrior figure with an armour made of plants which provide the oxygen necessary for human survival and protection from the elements.

“We like the unruly aspects of vegetation penetrating human-made structures such as ballrooms, green houses and even temples in the jungle with their tentacles bursting through architecture,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said the team also drew inspiration from binging episodes of recent post-apocalyptic television series The Last of Us. 

“We wanted to explore the delicate balance between the gifts which nature provides and the wrath it can bestow upon us.”

The team applied ideas of restoration, locality, and sustainability to their design. 

“We designed the headpiece, breastplate and boots to be all made from both local native species and plants foraged in suburban gardens and parks in Melbourne which meant they do not need to be imported or transported from vast distances.”  

“We also included long lasting species such as succulents and used Kokedamas techniques to preserve the roots, ensuring their survival beyond the duration of the exhibition and after which they can returned to the soil.”

“Our Boro-inspired garment is made from natural fibre textile remnants left-over from past projects or fashioned from recycled denim garments. We upcycled the fabric by eco-dying and shibori printing them with locally grown eucalyptus leaves.” 

Student Yiming Jin and team created a corset draping dress inspired by the way spiders make giant cobwebs between branches and twigs.

flower-show-jin Jin’s installation: a corset draping dress inspired by spiders’ cobwebs, branches and twigs

Jin describes the installation like a moment in time.

“On a chilly autumn morning, the wind blows the dress up exposing the sturdy branch-made crinoline of the dress and the fabric flying in the air catching dry leaves and flowers nearby,” Jin said. 

In order to create a garment in an entirely sustainable way, Jin used all the available resources from the woods, the twigs, branches, and dry leaves and mixed with natural fibres like fabric silk organza and calico.

Another student, Tia Gibbs, draped umbrellas in a range of flora to represent the concept of rewilding. 

“Our design shows the transformative process of nature reclaiming the man-made world, symbolising hope for the future of our planet as we face the repercussions of human impact on the natural world,” Gibbs said. 

flower-show-gibbs Gibbs’ design, a figure draped in umbrellas and a variety of leaves found in North Melbourne parks.

Repurposing was also an important consideration for Gibbs.

“For the top and lining of the umbrellas we used an old Vale that was given to us and used umbrellas found from local op shops.”

RMIT’s partnership with the MIFGS has been going strong for over 20 years. 

Juliana Luna Mora, Senior Lecturer Fashion and Textiles Design at RMIT, says maintaining strong industry partnerships like this inspires students and staff to contribute in meaningful ways to our communities.

“Real life exhibition experience and Work Integrated Learning (WIL) projects support students with the skills and expanded knowledge to be adaptive and respond creatively to fast paced environments,” Mora said.

“Gaining experience working toward industry event timelines and in response to competition briefs, as well as with a range of stakeholders, prepares students for the challenges a career in fashion design holds as well as any career in the creative industries.”

Read more about the RMIT Floral Fashion exhibit at the MIFGS


Story by: Thomas Odell

11 April 2023


  • Design
  • Arts and culture
  • fashion

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.