One to Watch: Amy Lawrance’s Romantic, Handsewn Dresses Were a Standout at Australian Fashion Week

“I’m always interested in old dressmaking and hand-sewing techniques, but this season I was also looking at mid-century sculpture,” the soft-spoken designer explained, dressed casually in a white tee and jeans, a pair of Nike Air Rift sneakers on the floor nearby. “I saw a Barbara Hepworth exhibition in Melbourne maybe a year and a half ago, and that was the impetus behind the collection before this.” Though Hepworth’s sculptures are rounded where Lawrance’s dresses are angular, several of the sculptor’s pieces featured a crisscrossing of metal wires, which can be seen reflected in the subtle angular slits that dominate the bodices of many of Lawrance’s dresses. “It’s a mid-century-meets-sci-fi kind of thing,” she added.

Up close, her garments’ extraordinary details shine through, like the hand-stitched silver embroidery thread that added a primal effect to otherwise delicate dresses or the variety of silks with which she works. A cardboard-looking dress was made from Ahimsa silk, a “quite soft” fabric that Lawrance submerged in boiling water and cornstarch for added structure. It had triangular cutouts at the hip anchored in shirred fabric detail. On another dress, she sewed the Ahimsa silk with a silk habotai on top, then cut through the layers to create a “feathery effect.” Elsewhere, a shimmery dress was made from silk abaca, which is typically used in millinery. Each model wore a hat on their head—some in a sailor style and others in a skullcap style made of fabric petals—and socks with laces sewn on top in shades of dusty pink, hunter green, ice blue, and red (the only pop of color in an otherwise monochromatic collection). She does everything by hand.

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