Stand Still for Slow Fashion

Melbourne Slow Fashion Designers Show

by Rachel Ang

photo by Rachel Ang

We have a peek at Stand Still, a mesmerising, theatrical presentation of a collaborative capsule collection based around the colour Red, by Melbourne-based, female run fashion labels, Abbey Rich, Caitlin She, Campbell Charlotte, Eat Me Do.

I live in Melbourne, so I’m surrounded by well-dressed indie babes in their ironic mom jeans and 90s trainers on the daily. Recently I’d been particularly covetous of a certain crop of designer wares — illustrative prints which I’d seen trending around — lots of screen-printed graphics on canvas overalls and pants, boxy silhouettes, and soft summery fabrics I wanted to wrap my bod in.

So I was curious to see Stand Still, an unconventional approach to presenting a collection, put together by a crew of emerging designers whose work I’d started to notice around town more and more. When I got to the venue (Gallerysmith, in North Melbourne — the current exhibition of Dana Kahan’s intricate, lively, botanicals, Herbarium, was a perfect backdrop to the show), a square space had been demarcated in the middle of the gallery with lights and floral arrangements, and anticipation was brewing throughout the Frankie-chic crowd. Also, there were complimentary gin and tonics by Mistwood! I was impressed.

Finally, after an hour of simmering in a hot sweaty gallery space (and I getting steadily drunker), the house lights went down and the stage was flooded with warm, red lights. It was instantly transformative — I felt like I was in some kind of theme park’s Tunnel of Love! The models emerged onto the stage one by one, bearing a single carnation, before striking a pose.

The garments were various shades of pink and red, and the models’ hair and makeup was very restrained and natural. In the designers’ own words,

Red symbolises action and “draws attention and directs its viewer to come to a halt. As designers and artists who work with slower production methods, the colour was chosen to represent a pause to consider the process of creating what we wear, how we wear it and how we can consume more consciously.”

The whole feel was soft, romantic, like a Pre-Raphaelite painting in which Ophelia, Isabella, Prosperpine, Lady Lilth and The Lady of Shalott had gotten together to eat pizza and discuss their plans to move to Berlin to make electronic music.

They moved about quite slowly for the first song, allowing the audience to study their ensembles. But once the second song began, they broke into a kind of hokey awkward dance which was very sweet. Then, just as soon as it began, the show was over, and I ran off to soak up all those complimentary gin and tonics with a Lord of the Fries snack box.

While this was a collaborative capsule collection, I thought it’d be good to give a snapshot of each designer and what they’re up to.

ABBEY RICH

slow fashion
photographer Campbell Charlotte and model Abbey Rich

One of the items I immediately wanted on my body were the very cool screen-printed overalls with leather straps and buckle details. The straps crossing each over in the back gave it kind of a sexy harness vibe, but the print was fun and playful. The peeps working the bar were wearing them and it was like some kind of cool-kid uniform — in any case, they all looked very happy with their overalls. Abbey Rich has released a second collection, called Life Blood, describes her recent work as “developed from my relationships with other people, how we treat each other and interact in the world.”

You can eyeball more of her pieces here.

CAITLIN SHE

slow fashion
photographer Campbell Charlotte and model Abbey Rich

I’m really drawn to Caitlin She’s work — perhaps the illustrator in me responds to her colourful, painterly prints.

Caitlin is a multi-disciplinary artist with an impressive body of work — in addition to designing and making textiles and garments, she is also an illustrator, seamstress, curator, and teaches drawing and craft classes. I get the impression that her creative practice is the manifestation of a complex, beautiful and rose-tinted inner world in which women run the means of production, and each person works and is paid commensurate to the depth of feeling in their work. I wanna visit that world!

Enjoy the delicious peach which is Caitlin’s work here.

CAMPBELL CHARLOTTE

slow fashion
photographer Campbell Charlotte and model Abbey Rich

Campbell Charlotte has a refined approach to garment making and the relationship people have to their clothes, and it’s clear she has a thoughtful creative practice. In her own words, she “…investigates the relationship between printed textiles, the textures of natural fibre and minimal silhouettes. The label explores how a garment may alter over time… allowing each piece to grow with the wearer and assume its own identity. Each piece is unique and considered, juxtaposing simple structure with complex textile designs.”

Her Season 4 collection features earthy colours like olive green and mandarin, and painterly gestural prints. What stands out in Charlotte’s work is that it is very wearable and chic — I enjoyed the pieces from all the designers at Stand Still, but most of it is designed for the lifestyles of the young thin indie babe who spends more time cycling between Fitzroy and Brunswick than in an office. I’m almost 30 and sadly the time in which I could wear Eat Me Do’s pastel pink overalls (with adorable puppy faces printed all over them) to work is drawing to a close. I could easily imagine Campbell Charlotte’s pieces on women of all ages and forms.

Click here to imagine her work on yourself.

EAT.ME.DO

slow fashion
by photographer Campbell Charlotte and model Abbey Rich

Eat Me Do is the hyper kawaii label created by designer Lara Ivachev. Ivachev originally studied advertising and began designing Eat Me Do as a vehicle to show off what she could do — as a branding exercise. Starting off making food-related jewellery, it’s since expanded into a social media monster and full fashion label. Her most recent collection, Harajuku Puppy Love, offers up more tasty treats for girls who wanna have fun. It’s all pink, all the time.

Join the Eat Me Do party here.

I’m not a Fashion Week kind of person. That’s probably for a couple of reasons — I’m not a fashionable person, as a feminist I find it problematic that fashion often polices our body and appearances, and I don’t care to engage in the endless wasteful cycles of fast fashion.

I am, however, interested in creative practices which place women at their heart, and depict female bodies with a gaze which is loving, playful and inclusive.

And I love handmade designed things which are made with craft and love, pieces which are unique, stylish and built to last.

Shop the Stand Still collection here.

About the Author Rachel Ang
Contributor to shelovestomake.com
Rachel is an illustration and comics artist
from Melbourne, Australia. @rtwa

Yen Taylor is an Aussie freelance writer & illustrator living in the UK, accessibility, disability, equality, mental health, creativity & culture.