Tag Archives: Dresses

The Front Row – Transformations

By far the biggest “transformation” of a dress during the “The Front Row” was of a gold stitched chiffon piece.  This design was based on another created last year for the Fair Fashion Parade.  It was the favourite of the model who assisted me with fittings, and of the audience at the parade, so I included it in the Evergreen exhibition at Object the following month.  (By popular, I have no tangible basis for this, other than it seemed to extract the most “oohs and aahs” and “that’s stunning” style comments from those who saw it.  As I like to create garments that have a popular appeal as well as appeal to my own tastes an inclinations, and as I don’t have a concrete measure such as sales figures go by, I often rely on the “ooh, aah” endorsement to determine future design directions…)

With the original dress in Sydney at the Object exhibition, I set about creating a similar one for The Front Row.  The fabric was dyed in Eucalyptus leaves, with some pieces left in they dyebath an hour or so longer so as to create two different shades.  The dress wasn’t finished in time for the beginning of the exhibition and instead this hank of coffee coloured chiffon hung in the gallery over the first week, “I’m meaning to make that up” I told everyone who wondered at what it was.

Lisa of Couturing saw the potential and agreed to wear the dress based on a photograph of the original, and so I set about getting it done.  The pieces are joined with a gold running stitch, each piece is left much as is, the edges folded back so as to fall in small frills.  A gold running stitch along the folded edges is both functional and decorative.

Image courtesy Couturing

Lisa wore the dress to LMFF Runway 2 with black “bunny ears” by Richard Nylon and a vintage Chanel handbag – I felt in very good company.

Image courtesy Couturing, Dress with Richard Nylon

Image courtesy Couturing, Dress with Gwendolynne Burkin

Image courtesy Couturing, Dress with Toni Maticevski

The dress also found itself in good company prior to the parade, here it is photographed with Richard himself, with designer Gwendolynne Burkin and with Toni Maticevski – legitimation by association.

I had put one day in the middle of the exhibition aside for serious transformation of the collection, and made up an indigo vat following on from a  recent workshop (more about this another time).  The chiffon dress was destined next for Leeyong of Style Wilderness and the City Weekly, who had also elected to wear it before seeing it made.  (She had, mind you, styled the original dress in the Fair@Square parade of which she was the organiser, so was familiar with it).  We agreed, that for her, the dress would be dyed in indigo.  What was particularly lovely though was that Leeyong was keen to try out the indigo process on some of her own clothes, and so came along to Indigo day.  We were able to decide together the twist-dyed effect we would attempt.  Leeyong had had plans of wearing the dress that very same day, but the process was much slower than anticipated, and the drying even more so, and in a cruel twist of fate, the gold thread actually broke down in the dye vat and many panels had to be re-sewn!  Clearly indigo is not the “natural” process I had originally imagined it to be.

Image courtesy Style Wilderness

And so, here is Leeyong at the LMFF Red Carpet Runway Presents Toni Maticevski show.  Note the ominous looking sky.

Leeyong and Phoebe, image courtesy Style Wilderness

And here is Leeyong with Phoebe, aka Lady Melbourne, recognise her dress?  You can read Leeyong’s own story, What a Difference a Dye Makes, about the dress on her blog – cute title!  Cruelly, Melbourne chose this night to unleash some absolutely vile weather, and so not only are photos of the guests at this particular parade scarce, this dress, along with two others of mine worn that night, were returned in a sorry crumpled state, which I actually didn’t mind one bit, because this altered state beyond my control hinted at excellent possibilities for the next transformation…

The Front Row – Spotted

At the Spirit of the Black Dress Gala…

Below, from the Fashion Exposed blog:

and below from Couturing:

And again, from Couturing:

The Front Row – Day 1 – And we’re off!

The Front Row project / exhibition / event opened yesterday in mattt‘s spare room.  Kyra Pybus of Pybus PR and Iolanthe Gabrie of Ruby Slipper were my first two “clients”, both picking dresses for The Spirit of the Black Dress launch next Tuesday.  More appointments are scheduled for today, so I’ll have a busy weekend of alterations and sewing.

Peppermint has featured the exhibition on their blog, and plans are underway for a dress for Peppermint writer Leeyong Soo.

Finally, a few casual opening drinks were a lovely way to end the first day.  Now that the manic preparations are done and I have a quiet moment to  sit here in this lovely studio space the realization strikes me that this is going to be a really enjoyable few weeks of intensive sewing, creating, writing and reflecting.

So pop in and say hello.  Open Wednesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm until March 18 at mattt HQ, 3rd floor, Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street Melbourne.

Above, pinboard day 1

Above and below, alterations for Kyra and Iolanthe

EVERGREEN – opening

An interview here with Habitus Living on the Evergreen exhibition.

And below, pictures from the opening night.

From left to right, Holly McQuillan, Julia Knupfer and Georgia McCorkill

The chiffon gown has a tiny fan behind it so it flutters!

Zero waste cutting from Holly McQuillan (left) and amazing knit textures from Julia Knupfer (right).


Fair@Square parade

Pictures from the Fair Fashion parade, part of the fair@square festival. 2 December 2011 at Federation Square.  My collection was styled with Leeyong Soo’s accessory label Fourth Daughter.

These photos all by Chealse Vo.

Dyed organza collage dress

White organza collage dress

Silk quilt dress

Chiffon pieces dress

Skirt sides short dress

Reviews of the show were featured by Couturing (including host Em Rusciano’s turmeric dyed silk dress that I designed and made) and by Style Melbourne;

“The Red Carpet Project showed a kind of broken-down glamour in their dreamy frocks.”

and also The Vine;

“Georgia McCorkill’s Red Carpet Project raises awareness of environmental problems faced by the fashion industry via special occasion dresses made of silk fabric sourced from Melbourne based designers’ remnants. She showed a cohesive catwalk with pales nudes providing a backdrop to her skills in hand detailing, and creating interesting silhouettes.”

While Leeyong Soo, event organiser and stylist extraordinaire’s wrap up is at The City Weekly, as well as on her own blog including styling details here. (Check out the necklaces made from empty soy sauce fishes by Mainichi!



Tickets on sale for fair@square!

I’m really excited to be taking part in the Fair Fashion Show on Friday 2 December 2011 as part of the Fair@Square fair trade and ethical festival at BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne alongside a host of very beautiful labels who all prioritize fair trade or ethical principles in their fashion practice.  The collection I’ve designed uses silk remnants but I’ve focused this time on using the remnants as they come in their mostly triangular forms, and essentially collaging them into dresses.  Each dress is designed for disassembly and reuse, and will lead into a project I’m planning for next year as part of the 2012 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program.

More information about the fashion parade – including tickets can be found here.

Fair@Square runs over the weekend, December 3 and 4, with a range of stalls and events at Federation Square.  I will also be the mc for one of the Fair Talks on the Sunday – discussing questions of fashion and consumption with Kate Luckins of The Clothing Exchange, Jill Chivers of My Year Without Clothes Shopping and Jo Cramer of RMIT University.

Below are some snaps of the collection-in-progress, from top to bottom; bundles of chiffon ready for dyeing, a eucalyptus branch found in North Carlton – I really have to get better at this plant identification thing, dyed organza drying in the bathroom, a “collage” of organza.


I’m currently working on a wedding dress for Jacquie for her marriage to Max. Below is Jacquie with her friend Lou, they’re sewing together the toile for her dress prior to our first fitting.  First question, what does this have to do with Frocktober?  Jacquie and a team from the Melbourne Zoo are taking part in this fundraising event for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.  Participants pledge to wear a dress every day during October (and the wedding dress we are working on will be one of them). You can sponsor their efforts here: www.everydayhero.com.au/frock_the_zoo

Secondly, why are Jacquie and Lou sewing the dress that I am supposedly making?  I’m trialling a participative made-to-measure concept, where recipients of my special occasion designs are involved in the sewing and construction of their own gown.  Our fittings have involved: food (on different occasions, baklava, sushi, spinach tart and roasted vegies), cups of tea or glasses of wine, shoe admiration (again from Melissa, a theme is developing on this blog I feel!), dress fitting and pinning, and finally some hand sewing.  Last night’s fitting also involved Jacquie’s mum who accomplished about twice as much as the rest of us.  What do you think?  Have you been involved in the creation  of an important dress for your own red carpet moment?  What did it mean to you?  Oh, and here’s that link again to sponsor Jacquie!

Tessuti Awards

There are a couple of days left to vote in the Tessuti Awards, run by Australian fabric store Tessuti.  My entry is in a sorry state; I opted to hand stitch it entirely from a length of linen and a length of lace (as per the brief) that I’d had lying around forever and then life got in the way…  I do still hope to be wearing it by Summer.

I have however been loving looking at and reading the entries.  This competition attracts sewers of all sorts, from professional designers, to aspiring students to domestic sewers, and to me challenges boundaries between professional and domestic, and about what activities constitute design.  While the competition is a sewing or making one, what is being judged is essentially design.  But best of all is the narratives generated around sewing, with each entrant asked to reflect on how they came to sew, what it means to them to sew and  the thought process behind how they worked their way through their design.

Typical among the stories is a “moment” that counts as an induction into sewing.  Says entrant Emily Pierce:

My Mum used to sew for us when I was little, and I remember sitting with her one day and cutting out a little tshirt shape and cellotaping it together and saying ‘this isnt hard!’ so from then on its history…I have excelled from that somewhat now however!

And I also love the stories about sewing that locate it firmly in contemporary life as opposed to a nostalgic pursuit practiced by our mothers, as expressed by Andy Truong:

I am a self taught sewer and I have been sewing ever since I can remember. I first started sewing when I did hand sewing projects. In year seven, I knitted phone and Ipod pockets and sold them to friends. With the money I made from selling them, I saved up for a sewing machine.

Leyla’s Dress

Leyla Acaroglu of Eco Innovators and sometime judge on the ABC’s New Inventors is a finalist in the “Individual Contribution to Sustainability” category of The Melbourne Awards held tomorrow night. Leyla was nominated for her projects that encourage others to engage with Life Cycle Thinking including the Eco Innovators Showcase Shop, The Eco Innovators Sustainability Quiz iPhone Application, and her ongoing public and private Life Cycle Thinking training and workshops.  Leyla will wear a dress made primarily from black kimono remnants that have been both hand and machine pieced together and embellished with silver threads.  Good luck Leyla and enjoy the dress!


Zoe’s Dress

image from The Knot

It has been an absolute privilege to work with the most lovely actress, Zoe Tuckwell-Smith of Channel Seven’s Winners and Losers on a  “statement making” dress for the Logies designed along principles of design for sustainability.  Particularly exciting was seeing Zoe on the red carpet on Sunday night’s TV special delivering a fantastic description of her dress and the message behind it.  This shows there is definitely space in a popular forum such as a red carpet fashion special for the discussion of topical subjects.  The Red Carpet Project is all about blurring distinctions between what is considered meaningful and what is considered trivial.

Zoe’s dress explored two different ideas around design for sustainability.  The first was the use of natural eucalyptus plant dyes to achieve the soft coffee colour and the second was the up-cycling of fabric remnants sourced from several Melbourne designers.

Plant Dyes

Dye was extracted from Eucalyptus Citriodora leaves during a recent workshop at Plant Craft Cottage in Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens.  The remaining dye liquor from the workshop was taken home with me in the hope that Zoe would love the soft shade as much as I did.  Of course she did, and I crossed my fingers and hoped this precious bottle of brown liquid would be sufficient to dye the assortment of silk pieces assembled for the design.

What I’ve come to appreciate about using plant dyes is not so much the reduced toxicity when compared to the chemical dye process (although this is comforting) but rather the possibility to engage with the entire process of colour making.  Instead of colour arriving as the contents of a bottle or by selection  from a swatchbook, the colour can be sourced, extracted, and the cloth processed by one person.  The ability to reduce what is usually a complex and opaque supply chain to a simple process that can be accomplished by a single person is very satisfying.


Remnants of silk fabrics sourced from other designers offcuts were used in the sequinned georgette middle section and in the silk satin underlay.  (The georgette panelled skirt and the silk habutae lining were new cloth purchased for this design).

Working with these remnants is proving really enjoyable and the most important factor driving the “crafted” look of the dresses I am designing.  For Zoe I used sequinned georgette pieces of differing shades, and all of them too small to make a garment on their own.  They were painstakingly cut and fitted around the body then handstitched in place.  With very little leftover at the end from this assortment of offcuts, there was no room for error.  How lovely that a waste material could become such a precious resource.  An allegory for our contemporary predicament perhaps?


The sustainable theme carried through the entire outfit.  Zoe accessorised her gown with vintage earrings from Kozminsky, recyclable PVC shoes by Jean Paul Gaultier for ethical footwear label Melissa, and a pre-loved red velvet clutch that underwent some very clever re-styling by the wardrobe team at Channel Seven to finish the look perfectly.

I’ll post further reflections on this design project over the next week or so.  Thankyou so much to Zoe for having the conviction to run with a rather unconventional proposition for her first ever Logies.  Watch out for this very talented and intelligent woman is all I can say!