VAMFF spoke to designers Cassandra Wheat and Louise Pannell from Chorus on their upcoming collection, which is presented in the short film “Strangers in a Moment”, as part of our Culture Series. Exploring the collection, Chorus designers describe how clashing stereotypes and eras inevitably leads to abstract, unique and unexplored territories in design.
It is the powerful fusion between the two designers in conjunction with a new creative collaborator every collection, in this case Bertie Blackman, which explains why Chorus continues to maintain fresh and innovative design season after season.
This new range of clothing which is described as practical and trans-seasonal, is inspired by the 80’s pop era mixed with soft silk lame and sequins.
Your label has started to gain quite a following, what defines the Chorus woman?
Intelligence, curiosity and a sense of humour.
Describe your upcoming A/W15 collection.
We don’t consider the collection to be strictly AW, we are interested in exploring trans-seasonal collections, it makes more sense in our minds with peoples shopping patterns and of course changing weather patterns. Aesthetically the collection takes cues from the poppy beat and clear 80’s influences channeled in the track Strangers in Moment by musician Bertie Blackman. The consideration of the notion of Pop led to an abstract visual exploration of the use of stripes, both in motif and structure, a gesture we feel has a strong, punchy, rhythmic quality inline with the music that inspired it. As is often the case at Chorus, we investigated the merging of garment stereotypes, silhouettes key to the 80’s, garments often associated with rock musicians – this time the kimono is sliced with the biker jacket and the tee-shirt with the tuxedo. Elements of each of these garment types can be seen; kimono sleeves meet with heavy zips, wrap fronts merge into motorbike jacket like lapels, the tuxedo is relaxed through simplifying of cut and use of jersey and stretch fabrications. The contrast of masculine and feminine that we are also fond of playing with is reflected in the chosen fabrication and embellishment – mixing pinstripe wools, stiff poplins and corduroy with silk lamè and hand cut sequins, exploding as if someone threw confetti on you on the dance floor.
You have stated that you believe ‘looking dressed up and feeling relaxed needn’t be mutually exclusive’, how do you find the perfect balance in your designs?
For us it is about embedding comfort and practicality into the elaborate, our designs are often fairy complex in construction and cut, but we strive to make them feel easy on and easy to care for, we want women to wear them every day – to reference that over used cliche, from day to night, I think that is often what women like about our clothing, it straddles wardrobe categories.
How do you continue to reinvent your ideas within the fashion world of fast paced trends?
Again this is part of the fashion industry we try and steer clear of, we aim for a slow progression of design ideas from collection to collection rather than a backflip of aesthetic. In terms of keeping ourselves interested and pushing forward, we always involve others in the design process in some way, we often refer to this as a creative conversation, rather than collaboration, as it is more often that we use the work or commissions of other creative women to stimulate design ideas, which is how we worked with Bertie Blackman on the latest collection.
We are so excited to see your short film ‘Strangers in a Moment’ as part of the fashion festival! What attracted you to Bertie Blackman and her new album ‘The dash’, and how did that relate to your designs/ and the chorus woman?
We admire the way Bertie effortlessly blurs the lines between strong and masculine and something feminine, both in her music and personal style, this is something we have channelled into collection and something we feel the Chorus women is interested in playing with. We also admire her humility and strength, Bertie is considered in the way she speaks and what she does with her time, and even though she is so busy she never seems harried, she’s also is not afraid to have a laugh. We think Bertie perfectly aligns with the values of Chorus.
We strongly support the creative talent and artistry of fashion film via the ‘Fashion Film Series’, why do you think the connection between fashion and film has become so significant over recent years?
I think there are a few reasons but would suppose the main reason is films ability to capture movement in a way still photography cannot. Clothing always feels more alive when you see it on a moving body. It has the potential to be a more democratic medium than a catwalk show and the rewards are longer lasting for the multiple parties involved. After working with a phenomenal crew on Strangers in a Moment, I have a new found respect for the medium, it is such a group effort, and involves so much communication to do it well.
Sunday 15 march, 2:30 PM
The Compound Interest
15-25 Keele St, Collingwood 3066