A ‘toile’ is a rough pattern, a physical interpretation of what a finished piece should look like. Each designers’ refined, finished pieces were juxtaposed in a parade next to their roughly hewn origins – and even the hair and makeup of the models wearing the toiles was carefully unkempt why the styling of the models in the real life garments was perfectly primped. In a fascinating twist many of the toiles would have looked just as good on a traditional catwalk as the finished pieces and seeing the structure of the clothing and how well they were built and sculpted into being was impressive. An underlying themes of both the salon show and the exhibition was that design elements that would traditionally have been concealed, such as buttons, zips, corsetry and stitching, have now become part of the accepted fashion aesthetic. As the show began a student designer and a model clad only in basic underwear took to centre stage. Material was cut and sewn as they began to work on creating a wearable toile as the show continued around them.
David Medwin’s, Medwin Couture was first up with a ladylike gown in emerald and purple silk. I recall seeing it during the Spring Racing Carnival where it was a fitting contender for Fashions on the Field. His restrained designs were a stark contrast for Jenny Bannister’s tea towel dress which was up next on stage.
Featuring pompoms, cow print and map of Australia tea towels, the frock can’t help but garner attention. Bannister dubbed ‘the wildest woman in fashion’ and ‘the high priestess of wonderful fashion’ tends to have a split personality. Her designs can be almost demure gowns a debutante could wear or they can come from a long intriguing walk on her wild side. Her toiles can certainly look like the finished product which is a testament to her creativity and the quality of the initial design.
I think Material By Product are one of the few labels to have a truly unique look all their own. The typical punch holes that feature in their work is simply printed on their starting pattern and actually looks like a cool digital pixelated print.
A basic cotton toile from Shirley Keon Couture was so lovely, with its artistically draped flowers down a long gown, that I may prefer it to the finished piece. Seeing her patterns painted with metallic paint to simulate the eventual fabric to be used was interesting. As was the way she let a fabulous fabric speak for itself in her final figure hugging gown that became breathtaking in its finished simplicity by letting the subtle pearl pink material sparkle.
Black leather corset? Off the shoulder? No skirt to speak of but black shimmering fringing, feathers and lace instead? It was an example of Croce and Colosimo’s presentation that would suit Victoria Beckham in one of her finer moments down to a tea. In this instance the toile didn’t do the final design justice but displayed the designer’s imagination and ability to refine an idea into something almost unrecognisable from the initial inspiration.
Croce and Colosimo was the final label on display in a parade that was capped off by the now completed-in-the-nick-of-time student’s toile. The piece featured a multi-frilled neckline and seemed almost good enough to go straight on the rack!
Words – Sarah Willcocks
Photography – Anthony Licuria APL Photography