Jasper Fearnley, Designer
RMIT | Bachelor of Fashion Design, Honours
We caught up with Melbourne based designer Jasper Fearnley! The RMIT Fashion Design Honours student and recent runner up for the MFW Student Designer Award, filled us in on her design practice, collaborating with local makers and European folklore...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY BACKGROUND AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO FASHION?
I grew up in a ceramics studio in NSW and was always very focused in areas of the visual arts such as painting, sculpture and screen printing. My fascination with fashion begun when I visited the huge collection of period style costume at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2007. I was about twelve years old and haven’t strayed from the fashion industry since! My practice has grown since moving to Melbourne and has extended into the realm of fashion film and photography.
HOW HAS YOUR TIME AT RMIT SHAPED YOUR CREATIVE PRACTICE?
I started at RMIT in 2014, I was straight out of high school and had just moved to Melbourne. Studying at RMIT has not only strengthened my technical abilities but has also shaped how I see myself as a designer and the way I view the fashion industry. There were many points throughout my degree where I questioned my creative practice - It was constantly changing. At some points I felt that I needed a solid and consistent aesthetic for my work to be identified, but in retrospect the evolution of my practice is reflective of the constantly changing fashion industry.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT COLLECTION CONCEPT
My most recent collection is called ‘Life Hangs by a Thread’. It explores European folklore through it’s primary use of handwoven fabrics and handmade buttons and buckles. With reference to tartan and hand pleating, the aim of this collection is to reconnect the viewer to the fabric of time and place, emphasising the energy manifested by the hand made, which is so lost in the current industry of mass manufacturing.
WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PROCESS WHEN BUILDING A COLLECTION? WHERE DO YOU START?
Because my practice started with an interest in period costume, I often start by doing historical research. With my collection ‘Life Hangs by a Thread’ I began with researching the early traditional dress of the Scottish Highlands, reading key texts to familiarise myself with the history of Tartan and looking at 19th century souvenir cards as visual inspiration. I taught myself how to hand weave fabric as a part of this research, to fully understand the importance of the cloth.
WHAT ARE YOUR GO TO RESOURCES? WHO/WHAT INSPIRES & INFORMS YOUR WORK?
I’ve always been inspired by the visual arts and love to visit galleries and attend exhibitions. I love seeing the work of artists and designers within a three dimensional space as opposed to in a book, being able to walk around and visually analyse how things are made and constructed. I'm also very inspired by film, for example the works of Sophia Coppola and Wes Anderson.
WHAT DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH WHEN IT COMES TO ‘AUSTRALIAN FASHION’? WHAT IN YOUR OPINION SETS US APART?
There are some amazing Australian brands and retailers that have been focusing on designing and stocking ethical and sustainable collections such as ‘Bhalo’, ‘Badaam’ and ‘Well Made Clothes’. With Australian Initiatives including ‘Behind the Barcode’ and ‘Ethical Clothing’ positively influencing the way Australian’s shop, I truly hope that one day ‘Australian Fashion’ will be distinguished by it’s sustainable and ethical conscience.
AS SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN THE INDUSTRY, WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE SOME OF THE KEY CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES?
One of the key challenges is remaining true to myself as a designer; by developing collections with a sustainable goal in mind. During the creation of my latest collection I have been able to collaborate with an incredible group of artisans; basket makers, hand weavers and silver smiths and it’s creative opportunities like these that excite me the most about starting out in the industry.
HOW DO YOU HOPE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE LOCAL INDUSTRY? WHERE TO NEXT FOR YOU?
I hope to improve my own sustainable practice as a designer and would like to work for like minded brands within the local industry. I also want to continue developing my skills when it comes to film and image making, as the photograph is truly important in depicting the identity of a brand. My goal for now is just to graduate, then I’ll see where the industry takes me.
Collection images by Gina Cawley and modelled by Lara Killam-Walter