Even though Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology graduate Laura Manning didn’t scoop any awards at the iD International Emerging Designer Awards last week, she definitely caught the attention and imagination of the judges for her well thought through and beautifully executed collection, Fronting.
“If there had been an award for best conceptual design, Manning would have won it,” says MiNDFOOD Style associate editor Carolyn Enting, one of the five judges.
Manning’s collection poked fun at the feminine ideal using aspirational elements of red carpet wear. Her gowns were cropped, chopped and bricolaged within systems of stacking and layering.
The train of her bridal gown was a patchwork of hidden treasures from Chantilly lace to pieces of white velvet with the names of “feminine ideal” icons including Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Kardashian (a nod to their less than perfect marriage histories) burned into the fabric.
An emerald green dress concealed a similar panel listing the names of leading ladies who’d worn iconic gowns in this colour including Keira Knightly (Atonement 2007).
Manning investigated the idea of allure and image and flaws in glamour. Using flaws and cracks in the dated feminine image, pulling apart and reconstructing the image, as if many copies of the image had been torn up and stuck back together.
While this was highlighted through crudely cut pieces of cloth and large layers of seam allowance to illustrate nonchalance and a crass attempt at the classical evolution of the female, Manning’s gowns were a mastery of layering through swatching and stunning details from finely knitted ruffles in red to iron-on Swarovski crystals, and whimsical crowns.
“I was left to question the relevance of fine detail and its integrity to the garment,” Manning says. “I sought to achieve aesthetic outcomes that communicate the loss of desire within the discarded runway image.”