AFC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
MFW Student Award Winner 2018
RMIT University | Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours)
This month we catch up with Helena Dong, this year’s winner of the MFW Student Award! The RMIT Fashion Graduate’s collection blew us away, merging tailored design components with performance and a digital ‘choose your own adventure’ twist…
“I still find this a bit corny, but I was drawn to fashion through my obsession with Barbie dolls as a child. I used to make miniature outfits for my dolls using left-over fabrics around the house, because my mum would always refuse to buy me toys. So, I guess from that point on, the fun and intrigue of designing and producing garments also reflected my own desire to be independent.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to dabble in a variety of creative disciplines, which almost led me to study architecture instead. I still remember vividly from the interview for architecture, when I was questioned why I had hoped to enter the course, all I could think of at the time was “I actually don’t. I want to study fashion.” Because to me, it was (and still is) a particularly personal medium for embodying and executing ideas; it is action-based, and is directly situated in ourlives.”
“The range that was shown at MFW 2018 is part of a trio of outcomes from my graduate project - a capsule collection, an online game, and a performance piece - which all intend to amplify the interactions between the viewer, the designer, the performer, and the garment in a fashion presentation context.
Entitled Scissors, Calculator, and a Beige Coat, this project has been influenced by writings on relational aesthetics, spectatorship and contemporary performance practices. The game component is a minimal ‘choose your own adventure’ narrative, with various scenarios that are each accompanied by two choices to act upon. The particular choices made by the participant will propel the narrative, which is in turn reflected in the garments through a sequence of structural transformations, allowing the original outfit — consisting of a beige coat, white shirt, and black trousers — to shift into sixty-two different configurations in accordance with each of the conclusions.
These transformations are made possible through splitting a single garment into individual, multi-functional pieces: such as hiding a glove up the sleeve, a skirt that is also a blazer, and a bodice that takes on the gesture of a backpack.
The narrative itself is underlined with themes of resourcefulness and independence, which have been based on a series of events and self-reflections from my childhood, following my migration to Australia in 2007.
I believe in producing practical, purposeful clothing with subtle or unexpected structural complexities that would only become revealed through thoughtful interactions. While the timelessness and multi-functionality of my designs afford a level of convenience, they ultimately ask for contributions in order to fulfil their utmost potential. In other words, my work also asks you to do some work.”
“Nothing on the agenda so far other than bathing in the sun and picking berries (if I can find someone to drive me to a farm). In the future however, as an interdisciplinary designer, I intend to continue developing projects that investigate how people interact with garments, and producing scenarios that would facilitate contemplative audience engagement. I look forward to working alongside other creatives who align with my practice, and to finding out how projects that intersect fashion and performance can operate effectively within a professional and commercial context.”
WORDS OF ADVICE?
“Drink water and eat well, because we so often neglect the importance of self-care.”
YOUR LOCAL TEXTILE & FASHION GO TO’S?
3. Davisha | Textile Merchants.
5. Mode and Mode | a periodical that addresses printed matter in fashion practice.