Melbourne is a city spoilt for choice when it comes to life’s delicacies and delights. Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is no exception. With hundreds of retailers and dozens of designers’ latest textile offerings to peruse, admire and purchase, the week will fly by.
It was an honour to be invited by fashion designer Susan Dimasi to a showing of the latest collection at her atelier Material By Product. We made our way up in the elevator of one of Melbourne’s most beautiful heritage listed buildings on the Paris end of Collins Street. Greeted warmly, with big smiles and cold champagne, the viewing of an exquisite couture collection began in earnest.
I love leather and all things evocative of nature which once taken through a modern creative process are transformed. I found Susan’s work to have a balance between the gentleness one finds in nature and the strength of raw animal power. Taking in her work is something that cannot be rushed. There is a quality so sensual and organic about it, despite its structural nature that makes you want to fully experience it, not simply wear it.
Her range was vast and accommodating to various tastes. I loved so many things, and even though I wasn’t in a “trying clothes on” mode, -as she was allowing in this private showing- I took it all in, like oxygen in its purest form. Each piece can be played with to your own personal level of demureness or boldness.
Material By Product garments can best be described as sustainable, luxurious sensual art pieces, with a playful touch and defiant edge.
It should come as no surprise to learn that Bjork has worn Susan’s creations and to great effect.
What is surprising, is Susan’s humility. Her love for the craft of couture is energising. Evident in the myriad of inescapable details, one can only be in awe of the value she places in both the materials worked with and in her clients.
Truly creative souls know how to take a work to the next level. And that is where magic and madness mingle to create perfection. This is the only explanation for one of her exceptional masterpieces, a tan leather jacket with lattice weaving and ink tattooed sleeves, which recently featured at the National Gallery of Victoria at the 200 years of Fashion History Exhibition. A magnificent ink tattoo which much like on human skin gets darker over time, the contrast bolder. I can easily say I have a new item on my wish/lust list.
She has also applied this tattoo process to shoes. Mind blown.
If this collection has a unifying thread, it is that regardless of the material used, the softness of the textures is absolute. From the ultra stylish rock t-shirts, the leather skirts and jackets to the silk necklaces, dresses and scarves, you will be enveloped in surreal softness. Each piece of the collection is designed to build a wardrobe for the wearer, layering garments and complimenting each other.
Material By Product customers are fashion connoisseurs, women who embody and are unafraid to express the best of their feminine essence. They are confident women who achieve their goals without making excuses. Susan commented to me that of all the brides she has had, none have been bridezillas, they trusted her implicitly with each stage of a garment’s creation or alteration.
The gift that couture brings is the ability for the designer to listen to both the materials they use and to the needs and wishes of their customers.
At a time when people believe that confidence comes from being overly in control of every aspect of life, it is refreshing to see that in fact, confidence is the ability to know when to be vulnerable, when to surrender and to trust your own choices and decisions.
Trusting the quality of the materials used and trusting the process of creating garments ethically, by which issues of sustainability are factored in, is not dissimilar to trusting in the good character of people and your ability for discernment. Once that’s established, the creative process is free to play and soar.
Material By Product allows the wearer to play and alter the style of the garment through various design devices inherent in each article. During the private showing, I was privileged to attend, I saw how her clients tried things on, yet on each one, the clothes looked different. Light leather jackets with high foldable necks and two zips on either end created an entirely new canvas depending on the wearer.
Another of my favourites were the couture t-shirts. Each t-shirt features a hand sewn print of a rock icon, David Bowie, AC/DC, KISS, Jimi Hendrix, Joy Division. Worn with silk necklace accessories your femme rock chic look is done.
“Modern By Product is live-in luxury artisan fashion designed around a complete wardrobe concept. It is for creative and professional women who are both intelligent and glamorous and dress for themselves. These women value art, design and provenance and love being on the foundation level of a new heritage house relevant to the 21st Century.
We love crafting pieces that become a part of their life’s journey.” ~ Susan Dimasi
I look forward to seeing this label develop and continue to grow. I’ve no doubt there will be many beautiful surprises along the way. Material By Product, uniquely sensual by design.
Pictured: Visual Merchandiser Carlos Uzcategui with Susan Dimasi