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Fashion: Cut & Paste

Written by Penelope Jones on July 15, 2008

Australian Fashion Designer, Sophie Russo met French Fashion Photographer Bruno Fournier at an art gallery in Paris, back in 2006 and a strong friendship was quickly formed. At the time, Sophie was working in hospitality, her dreams of success as a fashion designer temporarily forced into the pipeline in an effort to pay her rent (its no cheap city!)

Bruno, a freelance photographer, knew this lifestyle only too well and encouraged her to take a risk and get back on the creative wagon. Fascinated by Brunos studies into photographing human motion, Sophie was inspired to create a collection of transformable clothing that would compliment her new mentors movement obsessions.

Sophie kicked her bar job to the kerb and gave herself a one month time limit to create the collection from her tiny parisian atelier. Locked in her bedroom for days on end, Bruno would often stop by to check on her progress and offer his opinion and guidance. Sophie told me that it was Bruno’s creative inspiration that was the fuel behind the entire project, and as she draped each garment on her mannequin, from scraps of fabric that she had slowly been collecting her main focus was simply “trying to make clothes that would compliment Bruno’s photography style…….well, that and the fact that everything had to be somehow transformable!”

The reason behind the transformable aspect of the project? apparently it was because Sophie was working on such a tight budget, restricted to using scraps of fabric that she had slowly been collecting over the previous few years (”because the intention was always there…..and the desire to focus on my creative ventures whilst stuck being a barmaid!”) and it suddenly occurred to her that if she made each piece transformable, she could make the collection look alot larger than it was, without having to fork out non-existent cash on buying more fabric. necessity was indeed the mother of invention in her case, and the restriction worked in her favour, in her own words “it really forced me to be more creative and improvise designs when i simply didnt have sufficient materials to complete them”

At the end of the month it was time for Bruno to play his part in the collaborative effort and organise the photoshoot. “All i did was dress the model in the outfits, the rest i confidentally left in Bruno’s control” tells Sophie. Bruno then developed all of the chosen images by hand in a darkroom, a technique which he says is getting drowned out by the popularity and ease of the digital print world…..personally he can’t stand using digital cameras, and is often forced to when working for magazines. Not only does he love the grainy effect that film offers he tells me that he prefers being open to the element of chance and suprise. “Usually, it is the mistakes that end up being my masterpieces, and if i had a digital camera i might have overlooked it and erased it before i even got the chance to realise its potential”

The shoot took over 6 hours and was indeed a workout for the leggy Russian model Yulia as she jumped around in stilettos to Bruno’s instructions (”and she did it for free too!” adds Sophie) After 40-something rolls of film, the duo selected 25 images to print and the results have continued to recieve positive attention from the fashion industry.

Bruno encouraged Sophie to enter the collection into a competition, and she eagerly complied to his suggestion, entering the ID Emerging Designer Awards in Dunedin NZ. She flew to New Zealand for the finals earlier this year and to her suprise, took out both major awards for her collection. Beside a cash prize of $5000, Sophie was granted instant entrance into the worlds largest fashion competition, Mittelmoda, which will take place in Italy later this year. She is one of 25 finalist from across thet world, but interestingly is the only contestant from the Southern Hemisphere.

She says that entering competitions is a great way to get your work recognised and also, a great platform to getting that dream job and meeting similar minded people (not to mention the prize money!) Competitions are not only restricted to the fashion world but can be found in many artistic disciplines worldwide, and if your a motivated artist who already has a substantial portfolio then there is no loss in giving it a go. You may not win gold but just being a finalist can often score you a free plane ticket, alot of freebies, a holiday and a great experience.


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