One's first impression upon walking into Loop Project Space and Bar, in Melbourne's CBD, was of suddenly being underground.
The room was warm, dark, and inviting. Baskets of plants hung from the ceiling, their tendrils and vines drooping down towards the crowd, their leaves up high above our heads, but still tantalisingly close enough to touch. If up there was the surface, then we truly were underground, we were the roots. And like roots we slowly made our way towards moisture (the open bar) and light (a platform runway spotlighted at the centre of the room) moving through the space and mingling with the installations of work that were suspended around us. This event was the collective runway of four RMIT Bachelor of Fashion Design students; Amanda Morglund, Cici Chen, Annaliese McCann and Claire Hartley.
The name ‘Roots’ not only represented the last four years of hard work and growth, both in skill and practice, but reflected upon the four different backgrounds and histories that had influenced each designer. Whilst the four bodies of work were entirely different in structure and archetype, they complemented each other through their connected materiality - their shared use of intricate textile manipulation and hand embellishment.
This was a fashion event that took the form of both runway and exhibition. The performance aspect of the event was broken up into four segments, one for each designer, and spread out over the evening, with breaks in-between for admiring the displays and digesting each collection. Seeing the work exhibited as sculptural pieces and artefacts, and not just as wearable garments, draws attention to the meticulous subtlety that would normally be lost on a runway. This ability to get up close and personal with the work put the audience into the place of the designer, with the ability to look at the pieces from all angles, and with no minuscule elements spared. This eye for detail was brought into the runway performances as well, with the application of perfume in one act, to a reversible jacket, that was demonstrated on stage, in another. Roots was successful in the way it brought the audience and the artwork together. This was an event that was calming, intimate and grounding, both in name and in execution.
Written and Photographed by Jasper Fearnley
You can follow the work of these designers through the following social media links:
Amanda Morglund: @amanda_morglund
Annaliese McCann: @annaliese.studio
Cici Chen: @by_cici
Claire Hartley @clairejhartley