Style Melbourne

Kuwaii A/W 2011 ‘In Spirit I was Always Here’

Kuwaii designer Kristy Barber’s ‘In Spirit I was Always Here’ touches on a dream-like state, creating a vision of wistfulness, fantasy and innocence. With beautifully crafted garments in an inspiring colour palette; this is one of my favourite collections this season.

“I’ve always made things and ever since I can remember I have been cutting, sewing, typing, stapling, pasting. But officially in the early 2000’s when I inherited my grandma’s old Singer did my true love affair with fashion begin. It came from a desire and interest in garment construction rather than “fashion” as an industry. I think this interest in the garment has carried through to Kuwaii’s aesthetic now – we’re more interested in creating timeless pieces,” explains Kristy.

From winning the 2007 Student Designer of the Year award at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Kirsty has gone on to create astounding silhouettes that portray her true passion in what she does. Kristy aspires to create and show the world designs that possess quality, integrity, direction, simplicity and most of all practicality.

In luxurious fabrics that are still strong enough to last the day; ‘In Spirit I was Always Here’ demonstrates Kristy’s logical designs that intertwine both indulgence and longevity. The collection is presented in a beautiful colour palette of blue tones, whites, peach orange and deep red. Among the collection of winter coats, boxy silhouettes, delicately draped dresses and high cut shorts is the stand-out; the cape jacket! However my personal favourite would have to be the Harlequin silk satin shirt in an amazing retro print.

Kristy’s favourite stage in the design process is sampling “…seeing pieces come together in their chosen fabrics and trims is so satisfying and it’s exhilarating and amazing to see how beautiful things look fully realised. Also it’s a sign that the collection is well on the way to being complete and this is a mighty nice feeling!”

1. What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring local designers?
Stick with it and work hard! Learn all you can and do internships whenever you can.

2. What are your favorite fabrics to work with?
At the moment I love tencel and cupro fabrics – amazing drape and texture. I am really careful about the fabrics I chose and hope that they all share quality, a certain luxury, and are good and tough to last. My ongoing love affair is with Italian wool suiting – such a beautiful fabric to work with.

3. How do you choose which colours fit best for your collections? Do you follow trend forecasts or does it come more organically?
I generally stick to a muted colour palette so to allow the features of the garments to shine though and in an overriding way I always steer towards muted soft greys, naturals, and dusky colours. If on the hunt for colour inspirado I often turn towards the past to reference what colours work beautifully together. When I say the past I mean referring to artists of the past or maybe the beautiful textile weavers of the Bauhaus in the 20s/30s. For AW11 and again for SS11-12 I have worked to create a custom print which is full of colours and it’s been fabulous exploring the new medium of colour within printed textile.

4. If you weren’t designing, what else would you do?
I would love to be someone who made things with their hands in a different capacity. Maybe a carpenter, or la pâtissière! I love the idea of the satisfaction that comes with actually creating something that has a use in everyday life.

5. What was your inspiration for your upcoming Autumn/Winter 2011 range?
In Spirit I was always here was inspired by the art of Russian artist Marc Chagall. Chagall’s work shows the world in a fantasy state where line and colour fuse to create sort of dreamlike, otherworldly images . Using the colours inspired by Chagall’s work; deep khaki, coral, burgundy, azure blue, and a spectrum of neutrals and greys, as well as referencing Chagall’s use of orderly yet seemingly random lines, In Spirit is the largest collection for Kuwaii and excitingly held our first shoe range and our first signature silk print!

6. What does the future hold for Kuwaii? Is there any further news we should share?
More shoes for Summer 2011! New styles, which we’re super, excited about. This year will also be the official launch of our shop in Brunswick (our studio is run out of an ex milk-bar shop front and we’ve recently opened it as a studio store, from the inspiration of the many smaller labels that do this in New York and San Francisco on my recent trip to the US). I think it’s a really beautiful concept, the idea of a mixed-use space, and the concept means that the shopping experience is really inviting and warm. Also this will tie in with the official launch of our online shop! Plus see the new collection at the first Off Site Runway at LMFF – this will be super exciting to see the new presentation of the old Independent Runway shows.




Pretty prose by Natasha Pitra

Images courtesy label.

One Thought on “Kuwaii A/W 2011 ‘In Spirit I was Always Here’

  1. Pingback: Kuwaii: ‘Near the light’ A/W 2012 collection… « SEW FIERCE

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