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Meet the 2023 Melbourne Fashion Week Student Award winner, Alexandra Groves

"For this collection, I was really interested in the tactility of clothing and how this affects our experience of it."

by The AFC

6 November 2023

The Student Collections Runway at Melbourne Fashion Week brought together some of Melbourne's most promising up-and-coming designers from the state's leading fashion schools, which include Box Hill Institute, Holmesglen Institute, Kangan Institute, RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles and Whitehouse Institute of Design Australia

The AFC had the privilege of attending the presentation, and our Project Director, Danielle Kent, participated in the judging panel, selecting the top five finalists and ultimately resulting in two winners, which is a first for this award. 

Congratulations to Alexandra Groves and Rubee Hay, students from RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles.

Here, we spoke with one of the two 2023 winners, Alexandra Groves, whose focus on fashioned knitwear and sustainable hand processes highlights the innovative contributions of young designers to the industry's future.

Q1:  Tell us about the concept behind your collection and how you came to use knitwear.

The motivation behind this collection stemmed from a desire to create future heirlooms. My intention was to create garments that people could cherish and that would withstand the test of time. Building on this idea I found inspiration in the couture designs of the 1950s and 1960s, in particular the work of Cristobal Balenciaga. 

What excited me about these designs was their ability to encapsulate a specific era while remaining contemporary to this day. I found it an interesting challenge to capture these elegant and timeless qualities through the lens of knitwear. I am really interested in working in this space, finding the balance between refinement and rawness in the context of knitwear. 

My background is in textile design so I actually came to fashion through knitwear. I love working with knitwear as it allows me to simultaneously create the textile and the garment. This allows me to really experiment with material exploration and development which is the focus of my work.

Q2: Could you explain the sustainable hand processes used in this collection?

My collection is made using fully fashioned knitwear. Working with this method, each piece of the garment is knit to shape meaning that there is very little waste created. For this collection I have used a lot of hand processes, working with materials and techniques which can not be reproduced by machine.

The intention behind this was to create unique, one-off pieces which can never be perfectly replicated. The inherent mistakes and irregularities that come with hand-making are embraced. I believe these imperfections add character and value and have the potential to resonate more deeply with the wearer and foster a sense of satisfaction. This approach aligns with my interest in emotionally durable design which provides a pathway towards more sustainable and meaningful relationships with fashion and material possessions, fostering a shift away from a culture of disposability and excessive consumption.

Q3: How does your collection reflect the intimate and embodied experience of wearing clothing? Can you describe any design elements that achieve this?

For this collection, I was really interested in the tactility of clothing and how this affects our experience of it. I view wearing clothing as a very personal and intimate interaction, as it is worn so close to our body.

During the textile development for these pieces, my focus was on crafting garments that not only had a luxurious appearance but also offered a luxurious feel when worn. For me, comfort plays a significant role in my choice of clothing and dress. This is one of the reasons why I have a strong inclination toward knitwear. In creating these pieces, my aim was to combine the comfort associated with knitwear with the luxury and elegance of evening wear.

This is what led me to the beaded design elements in my designs. The beads give pieces a really nice weight and drape while the knit allows it to conform to the shape of the body without restricting any movement.

Photographer : Mira Pedlar
Hair and Make Up: Kate McWilliam
Talent: Rosie Graham

Connect with Alexandra

With special thanks to Melbourne Fashion Week.

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