PHOTOS: Creating dyed-in-the-wool designs

If you thought the catwalk couldn’t be any further from the shearing shed, this year’s Wool Fashion Awards unravelled that assumption. 

With more designers seeking out environmentally-friendly ways to fashion their creations, eco-dying was a popular feature at this year’s Wool Fashion Awards, judge Susan Thompson said. 

“A lot of people dyed their wool with natural products this year, using flowers, leaves and even bark,” she said. 

Cordelia Gibbs, who took home the supreme award on Friday night, used iron implements from the shed to make a dye, Ms Thompson said. 

“It created beautiful rust colours against the cream of the wool,” she said. 

Although wool conjures images of thick, daggy, knitted jumpers, Ms Thompson said wool was a versatile material that could be blended with other fibres to create lightweight and opaque fabrics. 

Fellow judge Akira Isogawa said because wool was not usually the material of choice for a ball dress or an evening gown, the competition “forced them to be creative”. 

“I find it really fascinating to see what the new generation is creating – it’s great to see them breaking boundaries.”

He said the event was important to boost the wool industry and encourage young designers to use natural wool instead of synthetic fabrics that dominated design overseas. 

Ms Thompson said the awards were a testament to Australia’s quality wool production. 

“We really have to get behind the wool industry,” she said. 

“When the awards started, it was hand-knitted jumpers and cardigans.

“Now our winners are going to design schools in London.

“From small beginnings there can be a wonderful end.”

Ms Thompson said it was inspiring to see the potential of young 

designers flourish when they were offered scholarships to design schools and could learn from skilled professionals. 

Armidale student Penny Smith and Kate Barlett from Hamilton in Victoria won Whitehouse Institute of Design Scholarships. 

Phoebe Hanau and Erica Coffey, both from Merrimac in Queensland, won the Academy of Design scholarship and the Raffles College of Design scholarship respectively.

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