I was born in northern Italy in the Veneto area – Venice is our provincial capital. How lucky am I!
Mum, who like many women at the time, was a terrific sewer and mender. My two older sisters had begun to formally learn dressmaking before we came to Australia in the 50s and could whip up a copy of anything, pretty much. Sewing is in my DNA - I reckon I was about 10 when I made my first outfit all by myself on mum’s treadle sewing machine. It was a blue, cotton playsuit with white cording shoulders straps and elastic in the legs - I all but slept in it! Some years later I remember upsetting our sewing teacher by bringing back my homework…finished, instead of just doing some tacking or attaching something. I remain hopeless at following instructions, preferring to do my own thing.
An exciting moment in my creative development was doing a workshop with funky Australian designer, Linda Jackson, in the 80s. Described as a fashion pioneer, she seemed to have tossed aside the rule book. Not enough material? Add a contrast piece. Not going to see the waist? Don’t worry about adding a waistband. Don’t tack - sew across pins. Ahhh...she spoke my language and opened up a world of possibilities!
Another giant leap was buying an overlocker in the 80s - it transformed sewing. I started designing and making outfits under my own label, selling through a fashion shop as well as the then Sheraton Hotel in town. Using a variety of fabrics, including gorgeous hand printed pieces by artist, Barbara Butler. One of these unique outfits was bought by the wife of the then, Spanish Ambassador. It was great fun, but it wasn’t until about 20 years later that I discovered the broad-church of recycling.
Wind the clock forward to 2008 when I entered a piece in the recycled section of Alice Springs’s Wearable Art Awards - a skirt, top and wrap made from an old grey blanket. I was most surprised when a number of people approached me before and during interval to buy it. A few days later, I told friend, uber-creative and fibre specialist, Philomena Hali, what had happened and we decided to gather together like-minded creative mates and hold what has now become an annual, must-see event on the Alice Springs social calendar.
The showcase opening night collection launch is not only fabulous, funky and chic but it also inspires patrons to have a go at creating something new from old