Gracing the cover of this issue of DUO, the Cinderella Dress by artist Claudia Williams is a triumph of creativity. Like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, Claudia is a master of turning the plain into the princess-like.
Where did you get the idea for the Cinderella dress? The inspiration came from seeing the actual banner on a billboard while I was driving out to North Shore one afternoon. I thought to myself, ’I could make a dress out of this for the next Townsville Fashion Festival’ and just like that the idea was formed. This moment of creativity is always fun and unexpected… but of course it’s one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent hard work.
After the idea came to me, I teamed up with photographer and artist Christina Papadimitriou and, with the assistance of a small art grant, we designed and created the dress. Also, because I like to nurture young people wanting to pursue a career in art, we conducted a wearable art workshop with local high school students to help create the piece.
It’s an exquisite garment and it was so popular at the 2016 Townsville Fashion Festival that it was chosen to be the ‘finale’ piece at the runway event. People are drawn to the uniqueness of it being made from a vinyl banner promoting Townsville.
What motivates you to turn ‘trash’ into treasure? I’m drawn to experimenting and using different materials in my work and I spend a lot of time visiting recycle centres. I especially love the recycle centre out at Hervey Range. It’s not rubbish to me – all I see are endless sources of materials and creative inspiration! I’m like a kid in a toy store.
I’ve used lots of different materials to make my garments – from recycled wire to tyre tubing, fishing nets and plastics through to VCR tapes, gutter guards and recycled cotton.
If I can inspire people to create wearable art and fashion from different types of recycled materials, which also saves the planet a little bit, then that’s a good thing. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than creating something from nothing. By themselves, the objects aren’t attractive but together they create a gorgeous garment and art form.
The DUO January Cover Shoot Team
Alexandra Wenta (Sia Model Management)
Cindy Walker (Ave Hair)
What was the first wearable art piece you made? It was actually a dress for my daughter’s Grade 7 graduation about eight years ago. I made it from her old school newsletters because, as most mothers will know, you get hundreds of these when your kids are at school. I coated the newsletters in clear vinyl and then designed a dress for Erin to wear. And at my lovely status-quo-challenging daughter’s request, we made the dress in a punk-rock theme. She loved it and it was a great experience for me to combine my artistic practice with a wearable design.
What’s new that you’ve been working on? I’ve just launched a new line of women’s handbags and clutches that are made from recycled tyre tubes. They look great and are super-durable. People have been buying them from all over Queensland through word-of-mouth. I’m looking at expanding the range by making laptop and notebook covers for men and women. I’ve also just completed a sexy number for The Drill Hall resident exhibition that was made entirely from tyre tube. It’s a little naughty and risqué to say the least but very empowering for women.
Myself and Christina really want to put Townsville on the map as supporting wearable art in Australia and that’s the reason we created Wearable Art Townsville (WAT), which will be a stand-alone showcase event for the Townsville Fashion Festival in May. We really want to encourage artists and designers of all ages to create wearable art pieces as the scene is exciting. (Claudia and Christina will be running wearable art workshops in the lead-up to WAT. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to take part.)
Can people buy your wearable art creations? At this stage, my artwork is for one-off events such as fashion festivals, magazine fashion shoots, art exhibitions and international expos.
Does a creative streak run in your family? My parents are more practical than creative but my mum helps me with my designs when I’m having trouble working out how to practically construct a piece. My children are creative in different ways as I encourage them to explore all aspects of their personalities and talents.
My son Jack is a musician and he’s finishing off his music degree and performing around Brisbane with his band, The Counterfeit Umbrellas. My daughter Erin is just about to finish her patisserie apprenticeship and she is phenomenally talented in designing the most sensational-looking and tasting cakes. My husband is an environmental scientist so all together we are a creative family and our get-togethers include great music with fabulous food.
What part of your creative process do you enjoy the most? I love the hands-on part of creating the best. Once I’ve completed the creative thinking process behind my designs, I love working on them to see the finished product. The whole creative process from design to fabrication is enjoyable but, for me, it’s the placing and creating of materials on the human form that’s the most fulfilling.
What’s it like when you finally see your ‘wearable’ art worn? That’s when you see the magic happen! I collaborate with other creatives in my work, including photographers, make-up artists, hair designers, models and fashion stylists. Together we all bring the garments to life.
What project do you dream of doing one day? My ultimate goal is to present my wearable art fashion on the Milan stage. It’s a huge goal but I would like to achieve it within the next five years. Next year is already shaping up to be super-exciting with my new collection and some interstate runway shows booked. My new collection incorporates three of my favourite recycled materials — copper, tyres and netting.
Watch the making of the Welcome to Townsville Cinderella Dress at www.facebook.com/llanicreative/videos/505038296368469/