Thursday, August 27, 2015

Common Threads: Exhibiting Australian Fashion Talent

I admit that while I claim Australia as one of my homes (I have a passport to prove it), I can't claim to be a local or to really know the Australian experience since I only lived there as a baby.  Sure, we travelled there in the summer time (their winter) to visit friends and family, but that isn't the same thing. Nonetheless, I am incredibly nationalistic when it comes to promoting anything from Down Under.

That said, when I saw an opportunity to cover the Common Threads Pop Up, an event sponsored by the Council for Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia and aimed at supporting Australian designers, I couldn't wait. At the event, eleven designers would be showcasing their designs and looking to network with people in fashion here in Hong Kong to make connections and explore new business opportunities abroad.

The networking event was Monday evening and it was my first fashion event since returning from summer holidays.  In addition to catching up with some friends, I met a lovely designer, Viviana who is the creative lady behind Basquesse (ready to wear, couture, made to order and millinery).

Originally from Lima, Peru, but transplanted to Sydney, Viviana's designs captured me because of their feminine, vintage feel.  Though not actually vintage, her designs certainly take inspiration from vintage clothing.  What first drew me over to her booth was a gorgeous floral fascinator sitting on display. What kept me over there was our conversation in which I got to know the designer, what inspires her and what she holds important.

I think back on that conversation fondly and especially remember two key parts of it.  First, when I asked her about what inspires her designs, she spoke of her Aunt Flora (actually her great aunt).  Clearly she was a stylish and graceful lady with gorgeous frocks and hats who made a big impact on Viviana. She also spoke about her own daughter, who modeled in her most recent lookbook (I got to see a picture). It was nice to hear how important family is to her (we even spoke about a dream she'd had before her first daughter was born) and see the role family takes in her work.

The other part of our conversation which was memorable was her passion for nature.  She explained that part of her profits go right into conservation and preservation of the natural environment and resources of Australia.  She sources her materials thoughtfully, and has a real focus on sustainable fashion (you can read more about that here).  She also incorporates this love of the natural world into her designs.  The dress next to Viviana in the first picture was inspired by the ocean foam. She explained that on the day of the look book shoot, there was an incredible storm kicking up on the beach, which provided quite a dramatic backdrop for her designs while at the same time threatening to postpone the shoot.

I love stories, and I love a designer who has stories for each of her pieces.  At the end of our conversation, she quickly picked up the floral fascinator I'd eyed when we first met and said, I know you really like this, so it's my gift to you.

Thank you again, Viviana. Your pieces really are wearable treasure as your customers say.

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