FASHION FORWARD THE CREATIVE PROCESS OF FENILIAWATI CHANDRA
By Bianca Murphy
‘In a machine age, dressmaking is one of the last refuges of the human, the personal, the inimitable.’ —Christian Dior, French Fashion Designer Feniliawati (Feni) Chandra, is studying an Associate Degree of Fashion Design and Technology at RMIT in Melbourne. Born in Indonesia, Feni has come to Australia to learn as much about fashion and design as possible on her two-year student visa. In collaboration with her assigned group, Feni must develop a collection for Melbourne brand ‘Ping Pong’ as part of the Capstone Project organised by the university. Beginning with her main piece, the ‘Anna trench coat’—a sleeveless coat with a detachable cape detail, she is hoping to develop a piece with a winter glow. This entails bringing warmth back to winter through the use of warm colours and details. It will combine the look of a traditional Victorian-era trench coat with a touch of Asian influence, a combination of both Feni’s fashion and cultural influences. The pieces will be designed and produced for ‘Sharon’, one of the simulated clients of the project, aimed at the 33–44 age range. Feni’s hope is to go home to Indonesia at the end of the year with the knowledge she has collected to start up her own brand, continuing her passion for design, creativity and fashion.
The Associate Degree takes place on campus at RMIT Brunswick. The course is designed to create industry-ready graduates, something that Feni herself hopes to become. The course revolves around creating a concept for a collection and following it through until production.
Feni begins brainstorming for the project, deciding on winter glow as a theme. She will be developing a â€˜hero pieceâ€™, a garment that will challenge both her creative and technical skills. She hopes the piece will represent the industry partnerâ€™s brand but also push the limits of convention and the brand itself.
Before beginning a project, Feni finds inspiration at the library, sourcing ideas for patterns and techniques after deciding on an era and central idea of her own.
Feni finds herself sketching her project under the Princes Bridge, enjoying the space, the hushed sounds of relaxed people and the freedom and fluidity of the water alongside her.
Feni and her group plan their collection for the Capstone Project. The vibe of the room is harmonious, everybody collaborating efficiently and effectively.
From everybody’s sketches and ideas, the group develop their concept for their Capstone collection. The collection is finalised after a few hours of collaboration and each person has a plan for their ‘hero piece’ to present later in the semester.
The group travel to Melbourneâ€™s CBD, to Tessuti Fabrics on Flinders Lane, to begin looking for fabric for their collection. They find sample pieces to present for the first part of their project.
‘Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.’ —Vivienne Westwood, British Fashion Designer
Feni will begin developing her coat on campus in Brunswickâ€”a suburb on the edge of the CBD with its own quirky character and culture.
Most of the development and construction of the coat will take place in Building 513, where a large workroom is available, for use both in-class and in their spare time. Feni begins her process of developing the coat by drawing the pattern for the first mock-up.
The construction of the calico mock-up allows for Feni to test both the basic silhouette and the details of the coat before contructing a final piece out of the chosen tan-coloured material.
‘Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.’ —Rachel Zoe, American Fashion Designer
The construction of the ‘Anna trench coat’ begins. Feni’s chosen material is a tan-coloured cotton toile from Rathdowne Fabrics & Remnants, Brunswick. She spends hours in the workroom so she can finish the piece for presentation the following week.
‘Fashion has to reflect who you are, what you feel at the moment, and where you’re going.’ —Pharrell Williams, American Fashion Designer and Musician
While at RMIT, Feni and the rest of the students use industrial machinery, an advantage of working on-site at the university, rather than using their personal machines at home.
‘What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.’ —Miuccia Prada, Italian Fashion Designer
Now that the coat is close to being due for presentation, Feni must make her finishing touches at homeâ€”an apartment in the CBD shared with her sister.
A mini workspace is set up amongst her belongings at home. Crowded, but still in control, sheâ€™s able to finish the garment.
Feni looks at her completed coat for the first time.
The two-piece â€˜Anna trench coatâ€™ is ready-to-wear, ready to present to the client and ready to be modelled, both in photographs and on the runway.
Special Thanks This book would not be possible without the generous and valuable time given by both Rob Gale and Jessie DiBlasi. Thank you for pushing my limits. Thank you to my editor Rebecca Nosiara, for taking the time to read and edit the book. Also to Jordan Ewens for assisting me with the final fashion shoot. A special thank you to Deborah Ives and Rob Lawler for collaborating and finding a student to be part of the project. Also thanks to Mardi O’Rourke and Tina Marino for allowing me to come in during your class and take photos of the project developing. And to Feni, the biggest thank you of all, for inviting me into your class, your home and being the perfect model for the perfect garment. Thank you for letting me capture the story I desired for this project, without limits, and letting me be the perfect ‘fly on the wall’.
About the Project This book has been produced at RMIT University (Vocational Education) in the Diploma of Photography and Photo Imaging program with the collaborative assistance of the Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing program. Each photography student was assigned to produce a narrative photo-essay in the style of the 1950s Life Magazine. Their assignment requires them to work within the discipline of a traditional photojournalist; following their subject, they make images as the unbiased observer and create a story from what they document. This discipline is also required throughout the image processing and all accompanying text. Across a three-month period, the students produce a self-published book. This includes seeking out their subject and following the story, developing the narrative storyline as it unfolds, and making relevant image selections to best convey that story. In addition, they design their books, along with drafting a written introduction and related captions. Finally, they prepare print-ready files for testing, through to their final book. This cross-disciplinary collaboration is complemented through the establishment of professional relationships between photographers and editors, with editors supporting the project in varied ways – assisting photographers with narrative development and writing as required, and undertaking copyediting and proofreading. ‘The collaborative experience for the photography students gave them insight into both the methodology and approach taken by writers and editors. This complemented and refined the learning that was taking place within the construction and development of their narrative projects. This provides the real-world experience of self-publishing.’ – Jessie DiBlasi, Robert Gale (Diploma of Photography and Photo Imaging teachers) ‘Working not only collaboratively but across disciplines, programs, schools and sectors, provided complex challenges for the editing students involved. Creativity, flexibility and patience proved crucial. In responding to, and supporting, each photographer’s vision, the editors deepened their knowledge and understanding of the publishing process and diverse editorial roles.’ – Liz Steele and Stephanie Holt (Advanced Editing teachers) ‘These exciting and stylish publications are the result of highly successful collaboration between students from the School of Media and Communication and the School of Art. The project mirrors contemporary industry practice, demonstrating the strength of RMIT’s vocational education in the creative arts.’ – Clare Renner (Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching, College of Design and Social Context) Copyright Bianca Murphy 2018 This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Inquiries should be addressed to the creator. Printed by Impact Digital 4/306 Albert Street, Brunswick VIC 3056
RMIT Publication by Bianca Murphy. Edited by Rebecca Nosiara.