Just as Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW) has wrapped up, we chat to young designer Stephanie Henly who was awarded the 2016 Emerging Designer Award at the MSFW Emerging Collective Runway.
RMIT fashion student, Stephanie originates from Adelaide and purely made the move to Melbourne to study and this achievement proves that the move and her hard work was well worth it.
Stephanie talks us through her collection that was shown on the runway plus let’s us in on what’s next for herself and her label.
What inspired your collection for the MSFW Emerging Collective Runway?
The project is a material exploration deriving forms from the application of the long stitch. This challenges the traditions notions of embroidery as a flat decorated surface rather than a functioning purpose. Forms are created through the performance of repetitive hand embroidery in conjunction with innovated methods of applications.
The context of my design practice communicates my values of handcraft. With an emphasis of skill preservation, hand crafted methods are re-contextualised to find new design expressions within a high fashion context.
What have been your highlights of studying at RMIT?
I have enjoyed my studies at RMIT and the opportunities we have through association. These opportunities include being at back stage dresser at the 2016 Chanel Resort collection, industry sponsorships and the overall university lifestyle while living on campus. However, the biggest highlight was being able to go on exchange for six months to the exclusive Swedish university: Swedish School of Textiles. The school only takes three international students from around the world and my overall year level had 18 students in it. The school had amazing facilities and you were expected to weave, dye, print or knit your own fabric for your collection! Their focus on integrating emerging technologies into fashion design was astounding, I even collaborated with their science department to create a temperature changing jacket depending on the outside temperature – something no student had done before!
What do you miss most about Adelaide while living interstate?
It is not until you leave Adelaide that you realise what you miss. Although Adelaide is a small scale compared to Melbourne I do miss the sense of community and advantages of being a ‘smaller town’. Adelaide has a very different fashion sense to Melbourne, something I could relate to more. Our local connections and word of mouth lends itself to start up fashion brands. Of course I miss my friends and family but Melbourne is a great excuse for them to come and travel!
What’s next for you and your label?
Going forward I wish to further by fashion business and technical skills. This includes the possibly of interning overseas or even returning to Adelaide if the prosperity is there. Adelaide has fantastic brands and renowned designers such a Paul Vasileff of Paolo Sebastian who I have admired throughout my education. Heavy embellishment and intricate hand detailing is my specialty and something I incorporate into all of my designs.
My goal is to integrate more artisan hand craft into high end fashion as a means of community engagement and social enterprise. The stigma around ethical and conscious fashion is often detrimental to the growth of such brands, however by working with extremely skilled crafts people brands have the ability to create unique textiles and embellishments whilst preserving a craft. Few high end luxury brands are incorporating this ethos into their design mentality, however there is a growing customer demand for such designs. Whether this be in couture wear or high end luxury garments this is in line with my aesthetic. Future collection and brand development will incorporate the hand crafted skills of artisans as a means of a collaborative design process.
I will continue to design garments to keep up a portfolio, whether that be for myself or individual clients.