Ancient Beauty

Fashion designer Alice Rawlinson talks art, nature and her collaboration with the South Australian Museum for the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize.

Fashion designer Alice Rawlinson talks art, nature and her collaboration with the South Australian Museum for the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize.

Given the ever-evolving connection between fashion and art, an opportunity to collaborate with the South Australian Museum on the opening night of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize was not one to pass up in the eyes of Alice Rawlinson.

Deni Jones of Cul-de-sac, who was styling the event, approached Rawlinson, as the pair had worked together on a few projects over the years.

“She approached me with ideas she envisioned would bring the event alive and transform the museum for the night. I’ve worked with Jones on a number of creative projects, and as she knew my background in design and love for costume and dance, it was a perfect match and obvious collaboration.”

Creating 11 costumes for the opening night with three distinctive Ediacaran-inspired looks for the dancers, Rawlinson played with the idea of first lifeforms and otherness in the designs.

“These costumes focused on delicate and ethereal choreography, mimicking that of the creatures from the Ediacaran period. We came up with a design that accentuated the dancers’ movements and presented them in an other-worldly light.”

It was easy for Rawlinson to draw inspiration from the theme. “The more fluid elements of the costumes came from the idea of movement, as creatures of the Ediacaran period were some of the first moving organisms,” she explains.

“Fabric choice and garment construction were both key to helping the ideas and inspirations translate. Using stretch fabrics allowed the garments to be manipulated to form creases that resembled patterns of the fossils.”

Rawlinson worked closely with choreographer Tanya Vogues in the lead up to the event.

“It was the way that the costumes were worn by the dancers and manipulated on the night as part of the performance that really turned them into works of art. The fabric was the focal point of these costumes. The drape and metallic appearance of the garments paired with the strong, yet intimate, choreography created a sense of fluidity and weightlessness.”

Finding inspiration in things like shape, composition, colour and movement, spills far outside the usual world of fashion for Rawlinson.

“Dance photography was a huge inspiration to me on this project. Photographer Lois Greenfield became my muse.”

Rawlinson sees the convergence of art, nature and fashion as a fluid one.

“There was a sentiment shared on the night that I found really beautiful and think it perfectly sums up the relationship between nature and art, and fashion as an extension of art,” she explains.

“The idea was that so much art and beauty already exists in nature, therefore, using it as an inspiration for our own artistic creations is a great way to interpret our connection with it.”

waterhouse.samuseum.sa.gov.au