Front Row at the QUT BFA Graduate Fashion Shows

Last week sitting front row at the QUT BFA Graduate Fashion Shows took me back to my days as  a fashion journalist in London.

Vivien’s  gamine models stalked the catwalk (a smile or two wouldn’t have gone astray) in vertiginous platform heels creating the illusion of legs that reached the armpits and the audience holding their breath lest there were a repeat of the  historical Naomi Campbell ( at Vivienne Westwood show in 1993) moment and a model toppling out of her shoes.

In its fourth year of graduating student collections the QUT BFA Fashion Show,  showcased this years 17 graduating student collections.

Kirsten Siemon Design – Hannah Millerick PhotographyHenrietta with Student Designer Kirsten Siemon – Hannah Millerick Photography

Two of the graduating  students Kirsten Siemon and Robyn Taggart  incorporated handknit pieces in their collections using Biggan Design 100% Australian Merino Yarn.
Kirsten  was influenced by Swedish knitwear designer Sandra Backlund with her wearable art style handknit accessory/garment.
Biggan was given  an exclusive  private preview of both Kirsten and Robyn’s collections a few hours before her flight departed for London on Friday 6th November, and she exclaimed that she would love to own Kirsten’s piece as it would make a great travel accessory for getting comfortable on airline seats.
Robyn Taggart’s collection featured  an abundance of stylish and contemporary knitwear. Robyn used Biggan Design 100% Australian Merino First Cross yarn to fashion eye-catching detail on merino jersey garments, combining cutting edge fashion with traditional hand-knitting techniques.

From a field of 17 graduates, Robyn was selected as the winner of the Design Institute of Australia Professional Excellence award for her collection at last week’s QUT Bachelor of Fine Arts (Fashion) 2009 graduate show Collections.

It was very exciting to see Robyn’s collection especially  as Robyn did an internship with Biggan Design earlier this year as part of her fashion degree. During Robyn’s internship Biggan and I recognised her talent and energy and we were therefore very happy to mentor and sponsor her in the development of her graduating collection.

I am so proud of Robyn and the knitwear collection she produced which is  both trendsetting and highly wearable.

Mondrian Inspired Sweater by Robyn Taggart – Hannah Millerick Photography

Robyn’s collection perfectly combined the conceptual with the commercial. It showed knitting is not just for nannas, but can be high fashion in the right hands.

An inspirational weekend at Harrogate

Just back from a most stimulating weekend up at the Woolaballoo yarn stall at Harrogate, with Lucy Bush and her lovely mother, Anne. This year I opted to do the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate with Woolaballoo, as they have all our yarns and are doing a stellar job of selling them. I was lucky to meet quite a few loyal knitters at the stall and together we put together some beautiful individually chosen colour combinations, particularly for the Sarah sweater and the Judith vest. It always makes me happy to see other knitters playing around with my wide range of colours and using it, just as it was meant, as a colour palette of yarn to be inspired by. It was lucky that I decided to do the show with Woollaballoo this year, as I went down with the most horrendous tummy flu shortly after arriving in the UK, which knocked me for six, and no food for three days. I was very happy to have Lucy and her mum organising the stall and the running of it.

Biggan with Lucy of Woolaballoo at Harrogate Knitting & Stitching show, Nov 09

I managed to get up on the Saturday afternoon after several long standstills on the motorway for roadworks! But it was all worth it. The Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show is definitely one of my favourites. Not only is it situated in one of the most picture perfect Victorian spa towns you can imagine, with the best shopping possible and a lot of good restaurants, but the show itself has such a variety of exquisite craft exhibitions on hand. Houston-based Cindy Hickok’s masterful machine embroidery of selected bits from famous artists’ best known works, from the renaissance until our time, had me completely gobsmacked. Her mastery of the machine and getting all these famous characters perfectly reproduced in an entirely new setting and with hilarious captions to go with it – very much tongue in cheek – had me back there twice slowly trailing every picture. I could have bought the lot, had I had the money!

Then I saw the knitted boat, yes, that’s right, the fabulous art project put together by the Sanford Goudie Gallery at the Customs House in Tyne & Wear, UK, by knitting a coat and a sail for a boat and putting it to use in the water!!! The knitting had been coordinated by very colourful knitting artist Ingrid Wagner using her enormous knitting needles. I also saw US based Tom Lundberg’s exhibition of beautifully machine embroidered artwork in the form of condensed sized badges, very skilfully executed. Lastly I ran into the embroidery duo Jean Littlejohn and Jan Beaney, whose fabulous embroidered wall hangings I was already admiring last year at the main exhibition. There they had a lot of pieces inspired by the Australian bush, which, of course, struck a special chord with me.

I’m now back in London again working on a plethora of new designs and ideas. I don’t know quite what to prioritise as they all are as much fun to develop and knit – several children’s garments, a shrug for a wedding in Adelaide in December and some commissioned work to get ready for deadlines. But it is all fun and I am brimming over with new ideas. London is a very stimulating place for me to be, as a designer. The enormous variety of art exhibitions, beautiful parks and buildings, theatres and movies make my inspiration soar.

A cuppa with friends

All of us here at Biggan Design are big tea drinkers. So when it came to hosting a small knit-together with twelve of our friends recently, a tea party in the beautiful garden of Biggan’s home was the natural choice.

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Sophie, Stephanie and Henrietta

With the flamboyant tropical flowers heralding the Australian spring, it’s easy to see where Biggan gets the inspiration for her work. Nature has an unerring eye for combining colours — the purples of the jacaranda and tibouchina blooms, the scarlet and cerise bougainvillea, and the orange and indigo Bird of Paradise.

Giving Mother Nature stiff competition, though, were the colourful projects we were all working on! Biggan was knitting a version of her Light and Shade shawl in shades of green, while Henrietta worked on a pair of scarlet wristwarmers. Judith was finishing up a lampshade in shades of pink, Valerie was working on Stefanie Japel’s Two-Tone Ribbed Shrug in turquoise and deep turquoise, and Anita was working on a baby blanket in an untraditional light khaki.

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Biggan works on her shawl

And, of course, there were pots of tea and plenty of yummy home-baked biscuits, buns and cakes to keep our strength up! The tea was Stockholm Blend from The Tea Centre, a firm favourite with Biggan and Henrietta. It’s quite a common blend in Sweden — black tea lightly scented with calendula, rose, safflowers, orange, vanilla and apricot — and its floral aroma is unmistakeable.

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Judith in shades of pink

Apart from giving us a reason to catch up with friends over cups of tea and balls of yarn, the party had a second exciting purpose. Henri’s friend Hannah — a talented photographer — was on hand to capture images of the tea party that will eventually make it onto the pages of our upcoming pattern book, along with recipes to many of the home-baked goodies we enjoyed at the party. We’re working hard on the book at the moment, and we’ll be keeping you updated on our progress.

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The Biggan Design team: Henrietta, Biggan and Anita