by Lesley Brook

A gem of an idea

Fashion student Sidney North was inspired by an Inca gemstone.

Third-year Bachelor of Design (Fashion) learner Sidney North describes the inspiration for her collection:

“The inspiration for this collection initially came from a gemstone known as the ‘Green Goddess of the Inca’, which was an emerald the size of an Ostrich egg kept in a temple in Colombia. My theme explores consumers’ obsession with shiny objects, false values placed on clothing and notions of preciousness – and how such notions can corrupt. As an easy example, think of how the Lord of the Rings character Gollum regarded the ring.”

To achieve this, Sidney created five garments with natural, feminine silhouettes. Choosing a base colour of tan and pink, “similar to my skin tone”, she hand-painted additional layers comprising five colours: red for ruby, white for pearl, green for emerald, purple for amethyst and orange for topaz. But the last, and most important design feature, are beads. These sit on top of the mesh fabric, creating a stark contrast to the muted dye and transparent mesh.

“The beads are rich, dense, and reflective. The beading is a direct allusion to gems and jewellery, and are intended as the focal point of the garments. The glamour of the beads distract the viewer from the simplicity of the garments’ silhouettes.”

Yet, as Sidney discovered, beading takes a lot of time – and a lot of beads.

“It was definitely challenging. The time it took was intense. I’d initially planned to create big spots of beads but, realising how time-consuming that would be, I opted to do fewer of those and introduced veins of beads, which actually make the garments more coherent. And although I feel I have created better garments in the past, that wasn’t the goal. The most important outcome was to go outside of my comfort zone.”