The AFC were once again thrilled to support the M/FW Student Award last year! Get to know Alexander Bourgazas From RMIT University. Get to know the 2020 winning designer and RMIT University Fashion graduate, Alexander Bourgazas! The award recognises excellence in innovation, quality, design and their potential to contribute to the future growth of the Australian fashion industry..
The award recognises excellence in innovation, quality, design and their potential to contribute to the future growth of the Australian fashion industry.
My introduction to fashion stemmed from an early appreciation of graphic prints, and in particular screen printed t-shirts. Whilst in high school I began screen printing my own designs onto t-shirts and selling them to students out of my locker. The combination of creating something, selling it and being informed by it, directly by students, gave me an insight into fashion design as a business model.
From this point, I began to mature my interests in design towards a career path where I could refine my practice into wearable expressions of art and personal reflection. As soon as I discovered RMIT’s Honours fashion program I took a chance and enrolled immediately!
My honours collection is entitled ‘Kouneli’ and is an exploration into socio-cultural expectations of men and the nature of vulnerability in manhood. This is materialised though the decoding of traditional menswear archetypes, whereby common threads emerge allowing the wearer to identify their masculinity within the garments. As such, the collection works to subvert these patterns of expectations. Notably in the utilisation and constructions of pleats and the multiplicity of the garments, which undeniably symbolise the poly centric nature of male identity. The internal and external attachments and detachments speak to this idea of a malleable construct of selfhood.
Represented in the final outcomes of the garments the worker jacket, and the overcoat which demonstrate the function of revealing new silhouettes from the basis of a single archetype. The deconstructive functions are brought to life by enabling the multiplicities of the wearer and offering them the ability to interact with the clothing they wear, but also take control of the way they wish to be seen.
At the core of developing this collection, my emphasis has always been about maintaining a healthy balance between aesthetic value and wearability. This is critical to my practice because although I might not be a tastemaker for everyone, everyone needs wearable garments that cater towards modern life as opposed to strictly ornamental appeal.
Therefore even though the overcoat and the worker jacket offer multiple ways of being worn, it was important for me to be able to still strip back the detachable components and still have a well fitted and designed garment that has marketability and a clear sense of functionality.
In addition, garments such as the college jacket and the wrap vest establish how borrowing from menswear archetypes outside of western codes of dress can dictate new appropriation of gender identity. Borrowing from my Greek heritage and the menswear archetype, the Fustanella, a skirt worn in military to signify strength and prowess, the garments incorporate the application of pleating. This example shown in my work further betokens hegemonic masculinity by positioning one set of codes, heavily represented in western womenswear, against another, a significantly masculine expression of Greek culture. This ultimately gives voice to the historically neglected demographic whose discordant ideas of masculinity have often been silenced in dress.
The title ‘Kouneli’ is the Greek translation of the word ‘Rabbit’. In nature, a rabbit is often identified as a creature of vulnerability, easily prayed upon and fearful. In society, expressions of fragility in manhood have historically limited men to live with self-acceptance. Therefore, the purpose of using a rabbit as my collection mascot is to portray an image of vulnerability in a fresh light, repositioning it as an empowering quality as opposed to a negative one.
There’s a fair bit of self reflection in my work, which usually motivates me towards making design decisions that feel authentic and demonstrate real life.
Funny enough, this year didn’t feel real to most of us.
Therefore, I had to make a decision and commitment very early on that if I were to pursue an honours collection it needed to be driven by instinct and self belief as opposed to just making for the moment.
Like everyone else, I wasn’t able to interact with people the way I usually do - so Instagram became my primal point of communication. I created a private account and only allowed my harshest critiques to follow, I consistently shared my developmental work and became informed by their feedback.
The intention of a private account was a way of keeping the entire process as intimate as possible, not allowing myself to get clouded by everything else going on.
I found this incredibly helpful and in return I made a collection I loved.
Even though international travel is limited at this stage I’m currently saving money where I can and preparing for the opportunity to intern/work abroad. My goal is to travel and learn skills that I’m not familiar with and ultimately return to Melbourne ready to launch something.
I love my city and I want to represent it in the best way possible, I feel that educating abroad will support that and give me the confidence I need.
Take advice when it’s given.
Make what you love and what feels right, not what other people expect of you.
1. Davisha Textiles (Richmond, Melbourne)
2. The Fabric Store (Fitzroy, Melbourne)
3. Drapers (Fitzroy, Melbourne)
4. The Pattern Making Class (Collingwood, Melbourne)
5. Thanh Xuan Fabrics (Springvale, Melbourne)
Words & Imagery provided by Alexander Bourgazas