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Farming lifestyle is now fashion forward

News story

Cordelia Gibbs has a box of rusty metallic objects that she has scavenged from her family’s farm in Beverly. She plans to use them to help dye the fabric she will use to create her clothes for her next collection.

Cordelia Gibbs and her winning look in the Ready To Wear Menswear Category at the Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Student Runway event.
Cordelia Gibbs and her winning look in the Ready To Wear Menswear Category at the Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Student Runway event.

Cordelia Gibbs is one of Curtin’s fashion design students – her looks have been entered into the Perth Fashion Festival’s Student Runway event two years in a row and just last week, one of them won the Ready To Wear Menswear category.

Fashion was an obvious choice for Ms Gibbs who was sewing clothes for Barbie dolls, trying to upcycle op shop finds and begging her parents for a sewing machine at the age of eight.

“None of the family are into fashion,” she laughs. “But Curtin, from what I had heard, had a really good reputation for fashion and I had just realised that I could do it as a degree.”

Menswear wasn’t exactly the direction she expected to head in. “I took a class last year and we had to do both womenswear and menswear and now I am thinking of returning for an Honours in menswear,” she says. “I prefer to design jackets and pants rather than gowns – practical wear rather than formal wear.”

Her win last week hasn’t stopped her. She has started the final production phase for her collection for the Fashion Graduate Show on 4 December this year where she will show 14 garments, each taking about two whole days to put together. The workload is nothing new – she once had a daily routine of working from 9 am to 3 am sewing for classes before getting five hours sleep each night. The material costs for producing her final graduation collection are sourced by working full time for four months in the country during the holidays to save up enough for the rest of the year.

The collection moves straight on from the theme of her Student Runway pieces: celebrating everything to do with the farming lifestyle through clothing. Hence the box of objects that will be used to set the wool fabric she plans to use with variations of rust tinged brown, gold and beige.

There is also another box full of what she terms “crazy objects” – bits from shearing equipment that she will turn into accessories for the collection.

“I’m thinking of the people from the country who are now in the city,” she says. “My clothes will be something familiar to them but with a fashion twist – that’s what I have at the back of my mind while I design.”

As for future plans, Ms Gibbs plans to take every opportunity that she can, something she has already put into practice by becoming a finalist for the Spirit of the Black Dress Sustainable Design competition. This meant her 2013 collection got shown in Melbourne at the L’Oreal Fashion Festival.

But for the moment she wants to stay in Perth. “I love it here,” she says, quite simply.

Besides, she has a graduation collection to finish.

Main image credit: Cordelia Gibbs and her winning look in the Ready To Wear Menswear category at the Perth Fashion Festival’s Student Runway event (c) Little Miss Mon Bon, 2013

Find out more about Cordelia Gibb’s take on fashion.