Sustainable Couture is a flourishing network of textile artists and designers,
passionate about creating distinctive eco-fashion and promoting sustainability
meet the designers
Co-instigator of Sustainable Couture and three-time recipient of ‘runner-up’ Wearable Art Awards, Franca is passionate about fashioning stylish garments from recycled and sometimes surprising fabrics.
Coming from a family of talented dress-makers, including her mother and older sisters, Franca is sure that sewing is in her DNA. She was 10 years old when she made her first outfit, by herself, on her mum’s treadle sewing machine. In the 1980s, Franca started to design and make outfits under her own label, using a variety of fabrics, including gorgeous hand printed pieces by artist, Barbara Butler. She found it great fun, but it wasn’t until about 20 years later that she discovered the broad church of recycling.
An exciting moment in Franca’s creative development was doing a workshop with funky Australian designer, Linda Jackson. Described as a fashion pioneer, Linda 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 Franca’s language and opened up a world of possibilities!
It’s great fun reimagining materials and stimulating to be involved, through Sustainable Couture and the Wearable Art Awards, with so many creative people. I love the challenge of turning the likes of blankets and tyre inner-tubes into chic fashion pieces and get lots of pleasure from seeing people wearing them, and, in turn I hope people enjoy the story behind their chosen piece!
Phil is a practising textile and fibre artist, and as co-instigator of Sustainable Couture, is integral to the vibrant creative energy behind the group. After living in Alice Springs for 31 years, Phil and her husband relocated to WA in mid-2018 – retirement for him, and for Phil, a sea change and reconnection with her family.
As a young girl, Phil learned hand-sewing and embroidery from her mother and other Portuguese women from the island of Madeira, where her parents lived, and so her passion for textiles was born.
Coordinating Sustainable Couture with Franca Frederiksen in 2009 fuelled Phil’s desire to see more and more recycled clothing being upcycled and repurposed to stay out of landfill. Deconstructed garments become completely new, fashionable, wearable items that delight the wearer and the viewer. Her aim is to utilise all of the fabric bits and pieces remaining, to make accessories or bags.
Phil is recognised nationally and internationally for her diverse work; her pieces are held in private collections, museums and galleries across Australia and overseas. Phil also delivers workshops to young people, Indigenous communities, and to fibre and textile artists at national forums held throughout Australia.
I am ultimately content with a swatch of fabric and needle and thread in my hand. Creating is my life; sharing technique fuels my passion for passing on knowledge. My workroom is my sanctuary and everything in it gives me joy, inspiration and a desire to create. I make because I love making – rarely do I need a reason - it IS what I do.
Carmel, whose idea it was to hold the Sustainable Couture Opening Night event in an aviation museum hangar, has been a part of Sustainable Couture from its inception. Over the years, Carmel’s creative flair and imagination has seen her fabulous entries in ‘wearable art’ events take out the top awards, both in the NT and interstate, including being a showcase finalist at Wearable Art Mandurah, Western Australia in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Carmel was one of the six Sustainable Couture designers who presented their well-received 'Edge of Centre’ collection at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018 in Fremantle. She was also a featured designer in the event’s ‘UpCycling Challenge’: to design a garment using only men’s preloved shirts. Twenty-five white shirts later, she’d created a beautiful bridal gown which drew a lot of attention when on display and was written up in That’s Life magazine.
A long-time dressmaker and passionate about the environment, Carmel prefers to reuse and repurpose, and loves working with vintage pre-loved or found natural materials that 'come with a story’. She’s never far from her sewing machine and can transform the humblest op shop finds into red-carpet show-stoppers. Carmel enjoys making her unique one-off, slow fashion collections for the annual runway events.
I love the connection with like-minded designers and the event’s overall concept and ethos to be more environmentally conscious especially when it comes to the fashion industry.
Marg, a core member of the Sustainable Couture collective, has a passion for the hand-made, which flourished during many childhood hours spent with her talented mother and grandmother, as they sewed, crocheted, embroidered and mended, creating and recreating beautiful clothes and homewares.
Drawing on this influence, and the magic of op shop finds and textile treasures passed on by family and friends, Marg continues this textile-crafting tradition, transforming textiles into one-off joyful garments, headwear and accessories, with timeless value.
An accomplished milliner, Marg has a great eye for colour, design and detail. Her handmade creations are vintage inspired, paying homage to traditional millinery techniques while bringing a contemporary, playful edge to her work. Her inspiration is the natural world and the ever-present wonder of its colour, texture and forms. She delights in finding once-loved and often neglected hats and restoring them or refashioning them to give them a sparkling new life.
I find fascination in the simplicity of stitching, and the connection this brings to generations of makers before me. I enjoy reclaiming the fabrics of yesteryear, recycling the rich stories they hold in their threads, and creating loved clothes that last. I believe that as individuals we can all take action to create a future with less waste – by living more simply and caring more for our precious planet.
Kaye grew up in Adelaide when sewing was taught at school and she continues to enjoy making clothes for herself, her children and granddaughters. Sewing clothes for her family are her favourite projects as she can personalise to their tastes. Kaye’s label 'Justnanna' is inspired by what her two granddaughters call her. It came about to differentiate between ‘Old Nanna’ and ‘not so old Nanna’, and with child logic became Old Nanna and Justnanna!
Kaye was introduced to the world of recycling and up-cycling by her daughter, Sophie, who was one of the designers showcasing with Sustainable Couture at Eco Fashion Week Australia in Fremantle in 2018. Kaye marvelled at what can be achieved with recycled fashion and fabrics and of the huge benefits to the environment. She was so inspired by the creativity and accomplishments at Fashion Week that she created a ‘Green Collection’, which she was invited to present at Sustainable Couture’s 2019 event.
My ‘Green collection’ which included a dress, jumpsuit and long lined jacket, was all made from the same offcut I found in a dusty corner of Savers. I added contrast to the waistline of the dress and jumpsuit and on the lapels of the jacket with some indigenous fabric to represent the importance of looking after the land.
I’m sure this year’s collection being showcased by Sustainable Couture will be as diverse and colourful as usual and I thank the team for the work they do behind the scenes to pull it all together – one stitch at a time!
Natalia is the creative designer with busy hands behind ‘Beads ‘n Pods’.
She collects used aluminium coffee capsules in a quest to transform and recycle them. Natalia’s adventure started a few years back when a neighbour handed her some clean coffee pods, saying ‘They are too pretty to bin’. So with her two young daughters, Natalia set out to have creative crafty fun and decorate the house for the festive season. Capsules became bells, flowers, candle-holders and some necklaces too, for personal embellishment.
Back then it was an eco-friendly pastime, but Natalia became more aware of the impact those coffee capsules have on the environment. Millions of them are disposed of daily, not only in Australia but also around the world. Natalia began to use them to fashion handcrafted creations – unique and innovative ‘capsule’ jewellery and accessories.
Natalia’s fabulous collection of earrings and necklaces were showcased at Eco Fashion Week Australia in 2018. Sustainable Couture designers spotted her collection ‘across the crowded room’, and invited Natalia to showcase at Sustainable Couture in 2019. She’s back again for 2020.
Discarding comes too easily and reinventing requires further effort, imagination and time. It has been for me a continuous evolution from hobby to an environmentally conscious art practice, providing the grounds to experiment, learn, play and improve through experience, observation and determination. Inspiration comes from the world surrounding us.
I am currently expanding my creations from fashion to art pieces which convert those coffee capsules into blossoming everlasting flowers, celebrating the beauty that nature so selflessly shares.
A Scottish-trained fashion designer/pattern maker, Jackie has worked for designer Zandra Rhodes and part time for Gucci, in London, as well as operating as a freelance stage-wear designer for rock bands. In Auckland she worked for companies such as top NZ swimwear label Moontide and lingerie brand Bendon before starting her own label.
In Alice Springs in 2007 Jackie taught pattern drafting which she then continued following a move to Darwin. She continued her business in Darwin with multiple custom-made orders, NT Fashion week, and recently re-connected with Sustainable Couture. Jackie’s skills have crossed many fashion genres from custom made one-off pieces, race day dresses, collaborating with emerging local designers to make collections, menswear, formal wear, music festival fashions, and upcoming costume projects.
For Sustainable Couture 2019 Jackie has re-purposed men’s suiting, net curtains, a table cloth, pillow case, leather cushion, and recycled fabric to create 3 very different looks
Sophie was Sustainable Couture’s first mentorship recipient, with her work being showcased on the runway in Alice Springs and with the group at Eco Fashion Week Australia, Perth in 2018.
Sophie has had a passion for arts and crafts for as long as she can remember. From making decorative bookends with leftover schoolbook contact paper as a child, to making clothes from recycled bed sheets and tablecloths, her creative adventures are always evolving while keeping a central focus on sustainability. Her fabulous handmade earrings brought her to the attention of the Sustainable Couture group.
At the moment, she is gaining inspiration for her sewing, illustration and object creation from the natural world, and the colours of the Central Australian desert. She has dipped into some eco dyeing, floral fabrics, and hues of the red, gold and orange skies and sand of Alice Springs.
As much as she can, Sophie creates from materials that have been discarded, passed on by others, found or recycled. Being very conscious of the meaning, impact and influence of our actions, Sophie has always endeavoured to share her values of sustainability with her peers and the wider community. She was excited to discover and then join Sustainable Couture in Alice Springs, and continues to implement the skills she was taught during her mentorship.
I am continually inspired by the knowledge, creativity and generosity of this wonderful group of people. I am thrilled to be involved in Sustainable Couture, to share my passion for op shops and creativity, and to continually learn from talented like-minded people.
Cathy is a freeform weaver, creating one-off pieces of wearable art. She grew up in a home that nurtured and supported her to trust her own abilities, to use what was at hand and have respect for nature. These influences and values are the core of her creative endeavours.
Before embarking on a new adventure travelling around Australia in 2015, Cathy purchased her first SAORI loom. It was a way to nurture her creativity and bring enjoyment to her mind and soul, as the loom is travel-friendly.
And what began as a hobby is now Cathy’s passion: weaving, designing and creating unique pieces. Her weaving evolves organically – its freeform style encourages self-expression without the constraints of patterns or aiming for perfection. The garment design process also is an organic one, with the length, weight and fall of the finished woven cloth determining what it will be transformed into. Cathy incorporates all the woven cloth in the garment to minimise wastage.
I weave/create daily for the enjoyment of making a unique piece of weaving, the satisfaction of using what is at hand and the pride in creating something beautiful from recycling others’ discards. Old clothing is strikingly renewed with a splash of weaving.
SAORI weaving has given me the freedom to express my individuality through the garments I make, and the meditative rhythm of weaving allows me time for reflection. I want to share this enjoyment with others, and so in May 2018 I launched Gypsy Weaver Studio in Maryborough Victoria where I run regular workshops.
Born in the Netherlands in 1952, Aukje became a mother in 1974 and migrated to Australia with her family in 1981. Aukje’s artist practice started in 1996, after a major change in life circumstances. Moving into the art side of things was very exciting. During the workshops she attended in Hobart she discovered opportunity shops and developed an eye for quality clothing made of natural fibres. Eco dyeing was another discovery, which continues to fascinate her.
Aukje has had several solo exhibitions in Tasmania, and one in The Netherlands in 2018, with a follow up workshop there in 2019. Workshops on offer include Old Fashion – Transformed (transforming of outdated and discarded clothing); The Essence of Nature (Eco Dyeing); Creative Embroidery; Found, Collected, Dyed, Stitched (working with found and collected objects, eco dyeing and stitching).
My mother was always sewing, stitching, knitting and crocheting for the family. Freehand stitching is something I absolutely love. It has gone from working on my dining table to teaching and exhibiting.
Through my workshops I create awareness of how synthetic materials and dyes pollute the Earth, as well as drawing my students’ attention to the appalling working conditions of workers producing fast fashion.
Janie is a painter, textile and mosaic artist. Originally from the UK, Janie is now based in Darwin NT, where she instigates and coordinates a multitude of different projects using each media, working in both remote and urban settings. Janie enjoys the challenge of joining this year’s Sustainable Couture team and the chance to upcycle, revive and transform some preloved clothes into whacky hats and outfits. As part of this year’s program, Janie will be running painting, print making and textile workshops for the Beanie festival.
Akansha, who is from India, has a passion for fashion – for designing, pattern making, stitching, fashion illustration, printing and surface development. With qualifications in apparel designing and working experience as a designer, Akansha enjoys the creative process and using her versatile skills to play with colours and shapes.
Growing up, Akansha loved being crafty and making things her own. She would see something she liked and add her own touch to it. She was a big fan of DIY (do it yourself) projects and decorating her rooms to satisfy others or herself. As she got older, her love for these things just continued to grow. She created a ‘Pinterest’ account that inspired her as well.
Initially, Akansha wanted to pursue a career in Interior Design, but discovered early in her studies that it wasn’t for her, as she was more interested in the decorating aspect than the design part. Akansha took some time to rethink her options, chose Fashion Design as her career and is very happy with her choice.
As a designer I love creating original clothing and accessories. My main objective is to put in my best effort and endeavour in the fashion industry. I am very glad to be a part of Sustainable Couture, enjoying the process of designing, recycling and presenting something new and different. Imagine seeing people at a fashion show clapping for your amazing designs! Then you know you chose the right career.
An NT textile artist who designs and prints unique hand-made work, blending purpose and artistry.
A graduate from the WA Institute of Technology with an Associateship in Art Education, Peta’s work depicts the natural world she sees around her. Resolute in her desire to remain responsible for all phases of design and production in multi media, including weaving and dyeing (‘bush’ plants and dyes), knitting (including carding and spinning sheep, alpaca and camel wools), felting and sewing (hand and machine) Peta strongly fosters the value of using local recyclable or easily obtainable materials and processes including using ‘bush’ plant fibres and dyes.
Peta has spent her life working in the rural and remote NT with women from all walks of life, encouraging them to express themselves creatively and share their stories through printmaking.
Kate Fletcher’s driving passion is creating original clothing with the circular economy as its central focus. Kate, who lives in Hobart Tasmania, has been making and upcycling clothing for as long as she can remember and for the past decade has organised Sustainable Clothing shows.
Her main passion in life, apart from Aussie rules footy, is educating and inspiring people about wearing sustainable clothing and drawing their attention to the social and environmental impacts of the global clothing industry.
This year Kate’s creative inspiration has come from walking in her local neighbourhood: she wasn’t aware how strongly she would be driven to doing dyepots at this time. Wandering her neighbourhood, marvelling at the autumn paintbox, she has been moved to collect and play.
Kate loves collaborating with other people and sharing skills and ideas and regularly hosts darning days at her house. She is delighted to be part of Sustainable Couture for the fourth time and this time she is collaborating with Anne Stewart from Brisbane. Kate’s and Anne’s creative paths crossed in Alice Springs two years ago. There are grand plans for Anne to visit Tasmania which are currently on hold.
Despite our isolation we have made it happen! Our collection for 2020 is a response to life in isolation. It’s entitled ‘A stitch in the time of Covid’. Anne’s bags and neck pieces fit perfectly with my garments.
Anne Stewart is a textile artist and tutor from south-east Queensland whose love of fabric and fibre began in childhood, when she learned to knit and crochet and was also introduced to the traditional Indigenous art forms of weaving and basketry. Anne has continued to expand her skills and knowledge through formal training and is qualified in commercial needlecraft.
Anne is passionate about eco dyeing and natural fibres. She makes freeform bags and necklaces in colours that capture the intense tones and hues of the Central Australian landscape. Her stylish one-off pieces, embellished with beads, embroidery and feathers, are as memorable as they are beautiful.
Anne first visited Alice Springs many years ago and knew she had found her creative home the moment she walked through the door of Central Craft. She credits her love of eco dyeing to her discoveries at Central Craft where she has been able to share amazing moments and ideas with many outstanding artists. Anne is a regular contributor to the annual Beanie Festival, and the Sustainable Couture fashion parade is one of the highlights of her visits to Alice. This year Anne is collaborating with sustainable couturier Kate Fletcher from Tasmania, pairing her handmade, hand-dyed accessories with Kate’s eclectic clothing range.
I get absolute joy out of creating something from others’ discarded textiles. Collaborating with Kate in 2020 is a journey - with Kate in Tasmania and a few closed borders between us. Lock down is just more time to stitch!
Grace Skehan is a textiles teacher who has lived in Alice Springs hand is now a Darwin resident. Her experience in the NT has shaped her label "GracieDesignsNT" which uses a mix of recycled products, sustainable fabrics and Indigenous printed fabric.
I love the challenge of making old or secondhand clothes look funky and different. There is also so much fun in wearing a garment that you know is a one off. You never have to walk into a room and see someone else wearing the same thing!
Apples and Glenyce have been sewing buddies for 9 years now, since they first met at the Quilting Club in Alice Springs. After attending Sustainable Couture in previous years, they were inspired to join in the fun, use their passion for textiles and creativity and design a collection for this year’s Opening Night Parade. Their collection utilises upholstery off cuts, curtain fabrics and recycled clothing, not to mention the bags of unwanted clothing items from friends.
Growing up in her native land Zimbabwe, Jen began fashioning her own clothes as a teenager in the early 1970s. After over 20 years in fashion and costume design and a lifelong love of natural fibres, Jen migrated to Australia, a journey eventually leading her to Alice Springs. A radical change of career followed; however, in 2013, Jen’s growing interest in promoting ethical fashion through the sustainable recycling of old garments from predominantly natural fibres, sowed the seeds for creating her own label. Jen deconstructs, dyes, felts, paints, recuts, tucks, or otherwise to create the transformed and timeless up-cycled range of unique clothing offered under her ‘Lokathula Couture’ label.
As a Masters student in Cross Disciplinary Art and Design with the University of NSW, Sarah has been inspired by her interaction with a diverse range of lecturers and students from around the world. I enjoy stretching the processes of fabric decoration and manipulation by using the materials and resources that I have available to me. The results then have an element of surprise and uncertainty.
This fashion partnership was born in 2012 in the creation of a collection to celebrate the opening of the new Batchelor Institute Art Studio at the Desert Peoples’ Centre in Alice Springs. Since then, under the Forkleaf label, the duo has been multiple winners of the NT Wearable Art Awards and in the top 10 in the Emirates Melbourne Cup Fashions in the Field. Brigida and Amanda have also taken part in fashion shows around the globe, including the 2018 Virgin Melbourne Fashion Festival, London Fashion Week 2017 and 2018, Tjungu Festival Yulara, and the Darwin Art Fair indigenous fashion runway. They also hold an annual fashion runway event of slow sustainable fashion in Alice Springs.
Always dabbling in various art forms forever, Amee has only recently found her calling as a paper maker and jewellery maker after coming home to Central Australia and the million acre cattle station that offers endless inspiration. She is loving creating pieces of jewellery out of the paper made from native grasses on the station and other various materials and objects found lying around, and using a number of techniques to make her distinctive Centralian work.
Nina grew up in Victoria, and has been living in and out of Alice Springs for the past 25 years. Her passion for sewing and creating is in her blood: her mother was a sewer, great-grandfather a tailor and Nina’s two great aunts had a dressmaking business in the Block Arcade in Melbourne in the 1930s.
Nina and her sister had their own label, boutique and dressmaking business in Hawthorn from 1993-94. They had a range of easy-to-wear tops and pants, and offered a great dressmaking service, creating wedding dresses, school formal dresses and recreating favourite outfits. Their label was ‘Wear Did You’.
Nina enjoys recreating and recycling. She loves the colour and texture of fabrics and enjoys op-shopping for garments to remodel. Two years ago, she participated in Sustainable Couture using denim and colourful dress fabric, choosing denim because it never goes out of fashion, and dress fabric because of the colour and flow. Her inspiration for recycling comes from disliking waste; she says if you like the fabric but not the cut remodel it! She also likes to knit and has entered several beanies into the Beanie Festival in Alice Springs.
I was a milliner for 10 years in Melbourne so I enjoy creating fascinators. Millinery is great fun - you can be bright, colourful and way over the top. Being creative allows my imagination to run wild and escape.
Often accused of hoarding, Beth finds all things second-hand and recycled to be hugely thrilling. A ‘textures’ lady, and a tip & op shop devotee, she loves the prospect of regenerating furniture, clothing, homewares and general ‘trinkets’. Beth feels privileged to contribute some decorative ‘homewares’ to the Sustainable Couture pop up shop, made from preloved cushions, pillowcases, rugs and tip-shop treasures.
Since 2002 Maryanne Munteanu has worked as an independent designer. Her label 'Gathered Pieces' has become a contemporary design studio for concepts in fashion, interior design, textiles and art. The creations are defined by innovative concepts, as she combines modernism with authenticity.
The creative process for Gathered Pieces begins by draping recycled natural fibre fabrics, combined with machine knitted samples to see immediately whether or not the creation will take a certain direction or not. The freedom to play without knowing the outcome is very exciting and a very important process.
Shunning the six-month cycles of the fashion calendar, 'Gathered Pieces' aims to create garments that are timeless and enduring.
By day Harriet blends right in with the heels and pearls ‘ladies who lunch’ in Brisbane’s western suburbs. At night you’re more likely to find her at the rear of the local bicycle and motorbike repair shops, fossicking through their dumpsters for discarded rubber for her range of fashion accessories.
The only Brisbane housewife who does a weekly machine wash of bicycle tyres, she’s quirky, creative and the ultimate recycler.
The bounty from her stealth missions, combined with a passion for hoarding and an artist’s eye, has resulted in this range of hand-made fashion firsts – each one an original.
Liz has been painting and printing on silk, making garments and accessories since the early 1980's. She was born and raised in Alice Springs, and returns as often as she can. In our mother’s day, mending was meant to be as invisible as possible, so the clothes would ‘look like new’.
For this year’s collection, Liz and Naina Devi have been inspired by Boro, the Japanese art of VISIBLE mending, which makes a virtue of the damage of holes, the patches used to fill them and the stitches used to bind them all back together.
In honour of the indigo cotton used in the Japanese versions, Liz and Naina have used old denim, mainly jeans, but also jackets, skirts and other clothes. Some of the denim has been discharge printed (or bleached back) with Liz’s screen prints.
Liz Wauchope works with the wonderful Naina Devi, who studied fashion design and construction in India, where she lived until coming to Australia several years ago. Naina brings the technical and fashion design expertise and imagination to her collaborations with Liz Wauchope and Marg Easson. Naina, Liz and Marg discuss the designs for the garments and refine their ideas together, then Naina does the skilled work of sewing and finishing.
The Op shop - a receptacle of redundant, discarded clothing and superfluous knick knacks. For some, a space to place unwanted goods; for others, like Simone, a veritable Aladdin’s cave. The juxtaposition of vintage dress patterns and appropriated clothing disassembled and reconstructed form the stunning outfits she creates.
Sally Hare of Happy Hare evolved after turning negative and painful experiences into positive, bright, colourful opportunities. Using natural fibres such as cotton, linen, silk, wool and making one off items for many women. She had a craft stall at the Vic Arts Market – South Bank for 10 years. Sally now enters her textile creations into competitions to keep her interests and juices flowing and has passion, creativity for textiles, art, colour, design and fabric. She decided to go back to school full time to study an Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design and is in her third and final year.
Judi came to fashion design later in life after buying a small gallery and selling her repurposed op shop clothing. Judi’s designs have grown out of a passion for recycling everything and her creations even include barbed wire and recycled metal sculptures. Judi has developed a real love of old curtains and linen to be repurposed as clothing.
Marg is a recent textile devotee, led astray from painting by the multi talented Liz Wauchope. With a strong interest in environmental art she has been known to turn her studio into a eucalyptus distillery in an attempt to unlock the secrets of the humble gum leaf. For Sustainable Couture 2016, Marg will use instead indigo on recycled Indian cotton curtains.
Pip McManus is a visual artist who works across a variety of media. She started her art career as a ceramicist but nowadays imploys whatever material or technology best suits the concept. She particularly enjoys engaging with other artists and the challenges of producing art for public spaces. Her video work Ichor won the 2008 Alice Prize. When the weather is right Pip harvests dates from her garden.
With qualifications in fine art, Julie has taught at Charles Darwin University and in remote communities, in textiles, silk painting and print making. As a practising textile artist who specialises in working with natural fibres, Julie pushes the boundaries of pattern-on-pattern by screen-printing her designs onto rich, often curious backgrounds such as cottons, silks and wools, many collected from op shops.
After completing diplomas in textile design and printing, Kerri then went on to study clothing design and millinery. Kerri revels in sustainable couture, using 'duchess sets' which graced the 1950s dressing tables of her mother's generation and embroidered linen tablecloths with crocheted edges from bygone eras, to create sophisticated and stylish garments.