Talking design with Leanne Whitehouse and the 2017 winner of Wool4School

Image Via Wool4School

Up and coming.

In case you missed it, Wool4School teamed up with Whitehouse Institute of Design to give away a scholarship to one lucky student in 2017.

The annual design competition, hosted by The Woolmark Company, asked Australian students to design an onstage outfit for their favourite musician, using Australian Merino wool, naturally.

The year 12 winner, Chanelle Davenport, took out the top spot for her designs created for Kylie Minogue.

We sat down with Chanelle to talk through her designs, as well as Leanne Whitehouse of Whitehouse Institute of Design to explain what a scholarship really means for the winner.


Chanelle Davenport, Year 12 winner of Wool4School

Hi Chanelle, why did you decide to enter Wool4School?

I first entered Wool4school because I thought it would be an interesting project for me as I’ve always loved drawing, so I thought it was a great opportunity. I really enjoyed it the first time, so I continued to enter each year.

What made you choose Kylie Minogue?

I thought that most entrants would design outfits for more current musicians, and I wanted to do someone a little different. I thought that Kylie was perfect because she is an Australian icon who has produced amazing hits and also has a very simplistic, feminine style which is what I love.

What was the process behind designing your pieces?

I started drawing basic sketches of garments that I could imagine Kylie wearing. I then began to research her style on the internet and gather images of patterns, colours and clothing items that are popular with Kylie and arranged them into a mood board. From the mood board, I drew up more garments that reflected her style better.

I then chose one outfit that I felt suited best and began to play with different textures and elements of design until I was happy with how it would perform onstage and the overall look.

Can you tell us about each piece you designed?

My garment is made up of three pieces (pictured below), including an accessory. The first piece is a red crop top constructed out of single jersey felted wool. This material is made up of 90 per cent merino wool and 10 per cent nylon. This material is most suitable for this piece because it is very soft against the skin and has a slight stretch for ease of movement.

I used the Cool Wool innovation for the bodice because of its beneficial properties, such as breathability, odour resistance, temperature regulation and elasticity. The sleeves on the crop top are made of circular knit jersey that is constructed out of 100 per cent merino wool. This lightweight material has an elegant drape that contrasts with the structured look of the bodice.

The second item I designed was a red short skirt which is created using the same innovation and material as the bodice. However, I had to use a red satin lining on the inside, so I could achieve a neat, elegant finish to the top of the skirt.

The boots are the last piece that make up the outfit. These are constructed out of laminated fabric with a 100 per cent merino wool back and a 100 per cent cotton front. This material is very structured and soft against the skin making it perfect for a pair of boots. I chose to use wool in this way because of the suitability of the fibre’s unique moisture management properties. This is a very important aspect of the boots as it ensures that moisture is absorbed by the material and dries quickly to avoid discomfort.

What area of study do you plan to undertake at Whitehouse?

I plan to study Fashion Design because I’ve aspired to be a fashion designer for some time now. I hope to one day establish my own label and this course will help me understand the fashion industry and the process of fashion design much better.


Leanne Whitehouse, Founder of Whitehouse Institute of Design

Hi Leanne, what did you like most about Chanelle’s designs?

I could instantly tell that Chanelle had innovation in her design thinking. At Whitehouse, we want students to be explorative and conceptual in their design thinking, I could see that Chanelle was already doing this. We are looking forward to developing that further with Chanelle.

Can you tell us about the scholarship to Whitehouse?

The winner of the competition receives a scholarship into the Bachelor of Design at Whitehouse, where the student can choose to specialise in Fashion Design, Interior Design or Creative Direction & Styling.

What does the Bachelor of Design involve?

The Bachelor of Design is designed to provide students with outlook and ambition that extend beyond their studies, cultivating a collaborative and global vision of design. While Whitehouse recognises that a commercial framework is vital, students are encouraged to become industry leaders through a focus on innovation, experimentation and individual expression.

This experimental spirit is balanced by close industry ties. Whitehouse graduates are recognised internationally and many have gone on to work or study overseas, including fashion capitals London, New York, Tokyo and Paris. Leading designers employing Whitehouse graduates include Givenchy, Aesop, Kenzo, Palace Skateboards, Celine, Zimmermann, Prada, Adidas and Louis Vuitton.

What qualities do you look for in a student designer?

Commitment to the industry. We want students who are hungry to learn, to design and to develop their thinking. Students who are passionate about the industry they are entering, with ideas about how they can influence design in the future.

What’s the secret to a great portfolio?

Play, exploration and innovation. We want to see new, young designers showing that they can think differently, and that they can use this to create something new and exciting, not just within the content of the portfolio but in the medium in which it is presented.

Any advice for young designers starting out?

Be brave, bonkers and brilliant.

For info on how to enter this year’s Wool4School competition and be in the running to win a scholarship to Whitehouse Institute of Design, head here.



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