TAFE SA graduate turns fashion design into an art form

Mar 02, 2021

TAFE SA graduate Isobel Davies uses fashion as a form of self-expression so it’s fitting that her designs have caught the eye of the arts community.

At this year’s Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition, held earlier this month, she received the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Award recognising an emerging female artist.

“The award was so unexpected, but fashion is ‘my art’ so it was great to be acknowledged in the arts community,” Isobel says.

She says her graduate collection, produced under the label Haus of Billie, began as an exploration of identity and evolved into a “visual representation of me and how I feel about the world”.

There are five outfits in the collection including an exquisite beaded overlay worn with shorts made from strips of hand-woven fabric covered in handwritten poetry, and a voluminous dress created from layers of tulle and hand-sewn smocking panels.

“The beaded outfit was about me creating a sanctuary in a cage, and the tulle dress represents a patchwork personality,” she says.

Isobel has been sewing since she was a child and she says studying fashion was the only thing she wanted to do when she left school.

“It was never a question of, ‘what was I going to do’. I love creating and the process of making clothes. I enjoy using my hands,” she says.

Isobel enrolled in the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Fashion), a dual award offered by TAFE SA and Flinders University.

“There’s so much work involved in the course, which you don’t realise when you start. I’ve enjoyed it and learnt so much,” she says.

With the $5000 prizemoney she received from the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Award she is planning to start some small runs of designs to sell.

“I also want to find work in a bridal house or somewhere where I can continue to learn couture techniques because that’s something I really enjoy,” she says.

Isobel’s graduate collection can be seen on the catwalk as part of Sisu, the HomeStart Fashion and Costume Graduate Parade, on Friday, March 19, at 7pm.

The colourful parade, featuring work by 30 students, will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. For tickets, visit Try Booking.