Next gen designers: Tess Tavener Hanks

Images via Tess 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 Australia’s top tertiary institutions. Supported by Target and presented by Fashion Journal, you can catch the runway March 9 at the Royal Exhibition Building. Tickets are available here.

Ahead of the show, we thought you might like a closer look at 2018’s up-and-comers.

Meet Tess Tavener Hanks from the University of Technology Sydney.

You previously interned at Cirque Du Soleil HQ in Montreal, what was that like? 

I was incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to intern with Cirque du Soleil in 2016. During my time spent with the creative team I experimented with and tested new materials and textiles for their upcoming shows. I met some inspiring, talented people, and was given such a unique insight that I highly valued as a design student.

Can you briefly describe your graduate collection? 

The collection, FLUIDITY A/W 2018, was conceptually driven by the intention to alter how we see synthetic materials in contemporary culture. An exploration of unconventional and ‘valueless’ materials has been used to bring a new perspective to what we use.

With a palette of acidic mint greens, vibrant electric blues and soft greys, the entire collection is made from silicone-coated wool. Draped, moulded and formed over the body, the collection aims to distort and challenge our perception of material value.

What inspired your collection?

The collection was generated in response to an increasing level of frustration of society’s ignorance and lack of awareness of our material surroundings.

During the development of the collection, I was inspired by minimalist sculpture, which highly influenced the conflicting materials and the form and structure of the pieces within the collection.

What materials did you work with?

The collection was sponsored by the Australian Wool Education Trust and made entirely from wool. Everything from the over-the-knee boots to the coats in the 13-piece collection were fabricated from wool. I used a combination of hand-dyed, bonded merino jersey knits and woven wool fabrics. The textiles in the collection ranged from different versions of silicone-coated wool, varying from moulded silicone stripes to transparent, silicone coated digital prints.

Have you used any sustainable methods?

Throughout the development of my collection, I was actively conscious and aware of the environmental impact of the decisions I was making. My garments are generated from a minimal waste process of pattern cutting, as the garments were not cut but instead draped and formed to fit the exact shape needed on the body.

What’s the hero piece?

I would say the silicone striped mint green tank and boots, as they embody the conceptual and creative intention. It was also the first piece that I developed within the collection and it distinctively impacted the direction and outcome of the pieces that followed.

What do you want to achieve with your collection? 

The intention of the collection was to blur and break down the visual stereotypes associated with the materials we use. I hope the collection stimulates an alternative way of thinking about the materials we use in our lives and promotes people to stop and think about how we engage with our material surroundings.

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

Michèle Lamy – I would love to see how she would wear and embody one of my designs. Her unique mix of creativity, poise and fearlessness is something that I strongly admire.

Your sister is also part of the National Graduate Showcase, what’s that been like?

Throughout the entire process of creating our collections, from every fitting, production drama and all-nighter, we were a constant support for each other. So it is incredibly exciting to be able to showcase our final collections together in the same show. 

What’s next after VAMFF?

Later this year I will be moving to London to complete my Master’s degree.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

In five years’ time, I hope to be actively creating and designing in an international design house.


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