RMIT steals the show at Melbourne Fashion Week

RMIT steals the show at Melbourne Fashion Week

RMIT students Alexandra Groves and Rubee Hay have taken out the top prize at the 2023 Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) Student Runway, jointly winning the MFW Student Award.

This year is the first time the competition has had joint winners, with the judges unable to separate the two showstopping collections. 

Groves’ collection is driven by the desire to create future heirlooms. It reinterprets luxury and elegance through the language of knitwear.  

Sustainable hand-processes reflect the intimate, embodied experience of how we wear and perceive clothing, achieving a tactile exploration of the material. 

Hay’s collection ‘Broken body, silly little girl’ is an introspection on vulnerability and protection. At once a little too small and a little too big, her garments represent a little girl shielding herself from the world in response to her own self-aware fragility.  

Each design holds within it a narrative, reflecting a belief that the way we talk about garments influences how we wear and care for them. 

Groves described the feeling of winning the student runway as “pretty crazy”. 

“I was a bit anxious entering the competition, so it was very rewarding to see my work being so well received.” 

“It was also super cute and special to win alongside Rubee and to share this experience with a friend.” 

Groves said she aimed to create garments that people could cherish and would withstand the test of time. 

“I found inspiration in the couture designs of the 1950s and 1960s, in particular the work of Cristobal Balenciaga,” she said. 

“What excited me about these designs was their ability to encapsulate a specific era while remaining contemporary to this day.” 

Students' winning work being showcased on the student runway Image: Students' designs being modelled on the runway.

RMIT is globally recognised for developing fashion practitioners with highly regarded technical, creative and research capabilities.  

Having spent the past four years exploring, creating and refining their artistic vision and design practice, 20 graduating students from RMIT’s School of Fashion and Textiles shared their designs with the public as part of the Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) Student Collections Runway last week. 

Groves said the way she designs her garments is fluid, with no clear outcome in mind, allowing her to experiment and adjust within the process of creating her collection.  

“My design process is technique driven and places a focus on material exploration and textile development,” she said.  

“I begin by experimenting with various combinations of materials and techniques that intrigue me and allow for the designs to emerge from the discoveries made in this exploration.” 

In 2023 three RMIT Fashion Design students were named finalists for the coveted Student Award with Phuc Ung’s stunning designs nominated alongside Groves and Hay.  

“Being nominated for the prize was quite surprising, as I always thought my work was a bit weird and unorthodox, but it makes me laugh and I’m happy,” Ung said. 

His collection ‘I’ll never be as good as Hussein’ is a subversive parody of renowned fashion designer Hussein Chalayan’s iconic 2007 runway show, where the garments used embedded technology to transform from the mode of one period to the next, creating a story of the history of fashion. 

“I realised that I could never make a collection as beautiful or refined as Hussein’s work, as I’m a student, on a shoestring budget, working in a complete solo practice,” said Ung. 

“Therefore, I came up with this idea to make a tongue-in-cheek subversive parody of Hussein’s show where everything goes wrong.” 

“All the elements are there – the electronics, engineering, couture construction techniques and design – but it is reimagined for the modern connoisseurs of fashion who trawl through Instagram and TikTok feeds.” 

When assessing what drives his ideas, Ung says it’s difficult to put it down to one factor.  

“I think my creativity generally comes from my ability to be a very keen observer,” he said. 

Looking ahead to life after graduation, Groves says she plans to gain experience and confidence working for brands and designers in the fashion industry that use a more experimental approach.  

“I plan to explore opportunities in Europe next year, perhaps in the UK, France or Italy, as they have a very rich textile industry,” she said. 

“While I'm currently keeping my career path open-ended, I see myself working in textile and knitwear development, collaborating with different designers and artists.” 


Story by: Finn Devlin

03 November 2023


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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.