Next gen designers: Mikala Tavener Hanks

Images via Mikala Tavener Hanks

Cream of the crop.

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is upon us, and once again the country’s best graduate designers are ready to put on a great show.

The National Graduate Showcase brings together the shining stars from all of Australia’s top tertiary institutions. Supported by Target and Fashion Journal, this year you can catch it on March 9 at the Royal Exhibition Building. Tickets are available here.

Ahead of the show, we thought you might like a look at this year’s batch of designers.

Meet Mikala Tavener Hanks from University of Technology Sydney.

You were awarded the NSW Business Chamber Award at the start of last year. Can you tell us about that?

The NSW Business Chamber Award is awarded to one UTS fashion student each year. The award promotes and encourages the student to engage with several local industries and to expand their fashion design practice. Receiving the support of the NSW Business Chamber has meant that I was able to strengthen ties with local suppliers, undertake a series of explorative testing and innovation within my graduate collection.

Can you briefly describe your collection?

The collection reinterprets and subverts the classics with modern modifications on items such as the trench coat, tailored straight cut pants, and the knitted cable jumper. The streamline silhouettes and clean cuts are juxtaposed against raw edges and deconstructed digital prints.

What inspired you?

It stemmed from my interest in photography, I started exploring the representational capabilities of photography and how it is akin to the memory both subjectively and gesturally.

This then led me to navigate photography within a fashion discourse. Through subverting the traditional notion of dress I wanted the collection to remind us that there is always more than meets the eye.

What materials did you work with?

I have created a series of digital prints on silk chiffon which have then been needle-felted back into the garments. Digital printing has a reputation of being very flat and the output being very quick, so by needle-felting the prints into the work it seeks to draw into question the authenticity and craftsmanship of the garments.

Have you used any sustainable methods in your collection?

Throughout the development of this collection it was important to play homage to the history behind traditional garments.

During the testing and development process, I used second-hand garments as tools to develop my collection through print and pattern cutting. This sustainable method gives new life to second-hand clothing and recontextualises classic elements within our industry.

What’s the hero piece?

I would have to say the oversized coat. It was the first look I designed so it acted as a counterpoint for the rest of the collection.

If you could design an outfit for anyone, who would it be?

I would love to see Guinevere Van Seenus in my clothes, there is something about her gaze and uncompromising display of unwavering beauty.

Your sister is also part of the NGS, what’s that been like?

It was so exciting receiving the news that both Tess and myself would be showing at VAMFF. It is such a great way to celebrate finishing four years of fashion together.

What’s next after VAMFF?

I’ll be heading off to New York to complete an internship with the support of the Australian Fashion Foundation.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Continuing to foster a sense of curiosity, being adaptive and open to career opportunities, and to learn from the creative minds of the global fashion industry.


Lazy Loading