Wool, fashion and dance come together in this beautifully presented exhibition.
The Woolmark Company, the internationally recognised authority on merino wool, has been hard at work to create meaningful partnerships with the global textile and fashion industries for the promotion of Australian merino wool, now regarded as the natural fibre of choice for high fashion.
One example of such a partnership was the “Merino Landscapes” exhibition, held from 11-14 March at the Annex in Central, which showcased a stunning crossover of fashion design, contemporary textile art and dance. Three Asian designer labels – FFIXXED STUDIOS, TOTON and Münn – together created 16 ensembles using Australian Merino wool for this special occasion.
The three labels, all past finalists of the International Woolmark Prize, were encouraged to be experimental in their approach. FFIXXED STUDIOS opened the show with a collection that evoked natural landscapes, while TOTON’s collection showcased Indonesian embroidery with its pieces. Korean designer Münn's collection of contemporary menswear was also on display.
Established by design duo Fiona Lau and Kain Picken, FFIXXED STUDIOS created a menswear collection that experimented with natural food dye. “We explored the properties of wool like the elasticity, the drape and the comfort. It’s a very absorbent material which is great with the food dyes. You can get a lot of colours and make them quite vibrant,” said Lau.
The collection utilised very simple shapes to highlight these properties. “Wool is easy to move around in and works really well against the body,” Picken added.
Indonesian designer TOTON created an ethereally beautiful womenswear collection. “Part of our ongoing exploration is to showcase Indonesian craftsmanship, and discover how that can be translated into pieces that women can wear in everyday life. This collaboration gives us a chance to look at our heritage in a different way while utilising wool,” said the designer. By using all leftover fabrics and yarns, it illustrated its commitment to sustainability, he added.
“There is a lot of embroidery in our collection as we tried to find new ways to do ornamentation on wool. The marriage of wool yarn and traditional craftsmanship is what we’re trying to explore over and over,” he says.
An alternative fashion show was staged at the opening of the exhibition to reveal the three collections. Dancers at the City Contemporary Dance Company became models, parading down the catwalk to a violin score. In addition, textile art installations created by Hong Kong artists were exhibited simultaneously to highlight the versatility, softness and wrinkle-resistant properties of Merino wool.
Dominic Wong, Assistant Artistic Director of the City Contemporary Dance Company, says the choreography was inspired by the clothes and the soundtrack.
As a dancer himself, Wong demands much from costumes and admitted to being surprised that woollen clothing can be so comfortable. “The dancers really found confidence from the fabric and the design concept to show off their beautiful bodies, and this is the most important element [to consider when] designing dance costumes,” he said.
Merino wool has rightfully earned its place in high fashion and is now reaching out to the the arts. “‘Merino Landscapes’ demonstrates that merino wool is not only the material of choice for luxury apparel but can also have relevance in the world of contemporary dance and art. This is a new idea and experience that we want to present to the public,” said Alex Lai, The Woolmark Company’s Country Manager for Hong Kong.