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Past adds up to a fashion future

News

2 October 2019

Past adds up to a fashion future

Past adds up to a fashion future

Scotch's Claudia Dare, 17, will study fashion in London next year after securing a place at one of the world’s leading fashion colleges. She recently told The Messenger about her fashion journey, and how her grandmother sparked her love of design.

My creative journey began as a child watching over my grandmother’s shoulder as she made all sorts of clothes for me that I’d dreamt up.

When I was 12, she gave me a book that covered the basics of garment construction.

Each week I’d beg my parents to take me to Spotlight on South Rd.

I’d borrow my mother’s sewing machine and I’d conquer a new project. I would strive for technical perfection as I taught myself each new skill.

At 13, I designed and made my first two outfits for a competition my sewing teacher told me about – the APEX Australia Teenage Fashion Awards. This is a competition open to schools around Australia and my school, Scotch College, was a participant.

One of my entries was a ‘steampunk-inspired’ costume I made for Halloween, comprising a satin skirt, cotton blouse, satin and lace corset and faux leather jacket. I was so surprised when it won third place. The Bristol Steampunk Museum in the UK contacted me about it. It remains on display there.

That first taste of success gave me the confidence to enter the APEX awards again in 2016, 2017, 2018 and, for the last time, this year.

Developing my own unique style as a designer, I experimented with wearable art and streetwear but ended up focusing on unconventional formal wear.

My favourite projects include a tartan ball gown, a handpainted floral men’s suit, an autumn-themed embroidered two-piece dress, an emerald shot violet taffeta ball gown and, the latest, my interpretation of rave wear gone formal.

Along the way, I was lucky enough to win state and national titles as part of the APEX awards, including South Australian Teenage Fashion Designer of the Year, in 2016.

I think what’s different about my work is the way I combine creativity and technical skill with mathematical vision.

I inherited a mathematical brain from my father and always tended to notice patterns in my surroundings – I can see how flat shapes are put together to create 3D structures.

This has helped me visualise a garment’s composition and is the main reason so many of my designs are heavily structured. Having the opportunity to study fashion overseas, at the University of the Arts London, is the culmination of more than six years’ work.

I care about the future of the fashion industry, and want to do what I can to encourage sustainability and fight the wastefulness of so-called “fast fashion”.

I also want to inspire other teenage designers in South Australia.

I enjoy mentoring younger students at Scotch College and plan to continue that work into the future.

-- Original article appeared in The Messenger, 2 October 2019.