"We looked at Japanese Bosozoku girls, which is an underground subculture of female biker gangs in Japan."

Words by

Boris Hall

The Tiffany and Co. National Designer Award is the most prestigious award for fashion design in the country. With a prize pool in excess of $100,000 not to mention unprecedented exposure and opportunities into the industry (previous winners include Romance Was Born, Dion Lee and Josh Goot), it’s definitely one to strive for. 

Not too long ago, we attended the final round of judging to catch up with finalists Macgraw, Búl, Emma Mulholland, Verner and Pageant as well as VAMFF CEO and creative director, Graeme Lewsey. This six part series will delve into the inner workings of some of the country’s top designers as they prepare for Fashion Week. 

Founded in 2010 by Amanda Cumming and Kate Reynolds, Pageant is a contemporary label with an edge. Combining diverse subculutural influences with hi tech Japanese fabrics, the brand is both sportswear and more. Obviously its unique take on modern garments is paying off, as the label increasingly gains traction in sales and attention. We spoke to Amanda and Kate about the relationship female Japanese bikies and Swarovski crystals.

FJ: You started your label in 2010, what was it like putting that together?

KR: It was exciting. It was daunting as well. You are constantly learning new things every day. Even though we’ve both worked for other people and had heaps of experience. You feel once you are doing it yourself it's completely different.

AC: Because you have to be responsible and in charge of everything.

KR: It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time, you have to be willing to work even harder then you have ever worked before.

FJ: You tend to incorporate a lot of art and artistic influences into your work, what is your current collection based on?

AC: We looked at Japanese Bosozoku girls, which is an underground subculture of female biker gangs in Japan.

KR: And they wear boiler suits.

AC: They sort of have all these symbols all over them, that’s where our use of Swarovski crystals come through.

KR: We were also looking at the repertoire of shots of them covered in lights. In the embroided jackets, the crystals are representing the light. Its all about customisation, so as they customise their Actual bikes the clothes are customisable as well. We were also looking at surveillance and futuristic technology. That’s where the grids come from, referencing aerial photography of landscapes and terrain. As well as referencing our wet jeans collection, we use a lot of camouflage in that. So we blend all that with the Japanese biker gangs.

AC: So I guess we have a lot of different influences coming into the collection.

FJ: How would you describe the aesthetic of your label?

KR: I feel like its inherently casual sportswear, we’ve always done that. When you look at any of our collections you can tell its Pageant.

FJ: Tell me a bit more about the look you are showing today?

KR: We’re showing an open camouflage look, it's inspired by aerial footage of terrain. It's an overcoat, with a matching skirt with lots of zips and at the back there are two huge zips that you can unzip and they kind of spread out. These are probably our most mature pieces; there is heaps of work and detailing to them, but also really refined.

FJ: You’ve worked with PAM and Christopher Kane, how was that?

KR: I interned with them ages ago.

AC: I worked as a design and production assistant with Christopher Kane for a few years.

FJ: Was that experience applicable to starting your own label?

AC: Yeah I learned a lot about production and dealing with stores and distribution and that kind of stuff. I also got to go to Paris each season, so I learned a lot about meeting buyers and how the industry works.

FJ: What are your plans for Pageant this year?

AC: We have a collaboration coming up with Banoffee for our Spring/Summer collection. And we are launching a web store.

KR: We are going to Indonesian Fashion Week next week to show our Autumn/Winter collection. It’s going to be a busy few weeks!

James Robinson @ Aevoe

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September 15 - 17.
Ditching the traditional runway setting altogether.
We've come a long way since the old suit and tie.
Exploring the Fashion and Textiles collection.
The one that was held in a carpark.
The one where I outfit repeated.
Presented by Target and Supported by Fashion Journal.
The one where street style steps up.
The one where I tried (and failed) to look effortlessly cool.
A celebration of the strength and diversity of Australia's fashion industry.
Curious Birdy & S.Rush collaboration collection.
NB: some of these lessons were learned the hard way.
Really, really, ridiculously good-looking.
Celebrating bigger and better than ever.
A work experience opportunity like no other.
Pretty things, pretty people.
Let us take a moment to reflect on the inspiring week that has been. In GIFs.
VAMFF comes to a close with Romance and Bush Magic.
Converse kicks on the runway? Thumbs up always.
The best part of fashion week.
We really, really wanted to reach out and feel the models (and yes we know how weird that sounds).
"I like the idea of how we as Australians are really in awe of everything that’s going on overseas, but really we take a...
"I guess I feel a bit, not like the underdog, but I am very different to everyone else here."
"Well it was quite interesting last year, the fire alarm was set off by a steamer and we all had to evacuate."
"Not for the fainthearted, but for today's fashionkilla."
'You are never going to see us do the same sort of thing or send the same thing down the runway."
"But this is the pinnacle, the most important award in the country."
Melbourne Fashion Festival off to a fiery start.
Start your own motorcycle girl gang in Pageant AW15
Not too busy to visit us Melbourne kids.
The future of Australian fashion is right here...
This is going to make for one jam-packed festival.
TOME, ètre cècile and Martin Grant are coming home for VAMFF.
A inside look into behind the scenes of VAMFF.
A cultural night out for the fashion lover.
Monk House Design have announced the dates for their annual studio sale.
Get your shopping shoes ready because it's sale time!
Ex-RMIT fashion students and Melbourne creative cuties, Kate Renoylds and Amanda Cummings have been curating fresh designs under...