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The Next Big Thing: Pageant

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

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!

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