I was very fortunate last week to be invited to the launch event of the Banshu-Ori Exhibition at the Perth Museum by the talented, lovely Jennifer Gaye!

This stunning exhibition is based around a program to assist Western Australian graduating fashion and emerging designers to gain access to the international, professional fashion design industry through access to the Banshu textile industry in Hyogo in Japan.

The program was established in 2011 as part of the 30th Anniversary of the Sister State relationship between Western Australia and Hyogo Prefecture.

The thing that stands out with Banshu textiles is the traditional method used to produce elaborate woven patterns with dyed yarns for some truly stunning results!  These textiles are distributed world wide to high-end designer houses and are suitable for a wide range of garments.

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Three young designers are chosen each year by a panel of WA’s leading professional textile/fashion designers and industry professionals, along with the Japanese textile stakeholders and a WA representative for Shin Banshu Kikaku (SBK) from Jennifer Gaye Agencies.  They are invited to submit an original fabric design and the top three are then awarded to travel with a professional designer to collaborate and mentor the finalists on a 5 day trip to Hyogo Prefecture.  In 2015 Akira Isogawa, one of Australia’s most iconic designers joined an exceptional list of previous mentors including Aurelio Costarella.

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Akira was born in Kyoto, Japan but has called Australia home since 1986 where he studied fashion design at the Sydney Institute of Technology, drawing inspiration from contemporary Japanese design.

Akira has been showing his collections in Paris since 1998.  He has achieved international recognition for his exquisite contemporary designs, which are sought after in every major fashion capital around the world.

He has 4 stand alone boutiques in Australia with 2 in Sydney, 1in Brisbane and another in Melbourne.

He is much awarded and lauded in a stellar career with a string of awards and his work has been embraced by the Australian arts sector, being the first Australian designer to have a solo fashion and textiles exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, that later toured to Singapore, Manilla and Bangkok.  Akira has also designed costumes for four Sydney Dance Company productions and for players in the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

The 3 young designers that were chosen this year and had their work displayed at the Museum were Shelly Tindale, Lyndal Malarkey and Elena Bollweg.  Each one of them created a unique collection that showed their design skills and just how much they had gotten out of being part of this inspirational program.

Each of them created a very individual collection of outfits that really embraced their own design style whilst highlighting the Banshu textiles at their best.

Shelly Tindale is the emerging designer behind the label T I N D A L E and since the launch of the label has been awarded numerous titles including being a nominee for 2015 Western Australian Designer of the Year.

Lyndal Malarkey graduated from the Fashion and Textile Design Advanced Diploma course at Central Institute of Technology.  It is her fascination with women and their journey throughout history that has inspired her creativity and her aesthetic focuses on creating feminine and tailored garments with an eclectic mix of tactile textiles.

Elena Bollweg is originally from Ukraine and raised in Australia and has a fashion degree from Curtin University.  Elena was a finalist at the Perth Fashion Festival “Future Runway”.  In 2014 she won the student category at the Fairly Fashionable Fair-trade Show which lead to a collaboration on a capsule collection with Fremantle boutique Bibi Vintage and Fairtrade.

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All three of these young designers went on a five day exchange to collaborate with prestigious Japanese textile producers in Nishiwaki city.

This display in the entrance to the WA Museum is a real delight and you can get up real close to see the intricacy of the fabrics and the very different designs from each of the finalists.  There are also pieces from Akira Isogawa included to complete the display.

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As 2016 will be the 6 year of this fabulous program it would be fantastic to see a retrospective mounted that would showcase each of the previous winners along side the 2016 designers that have been chosen.

Perhaps a parade that could showcase each of the previous designers and allow those attending to see how the program has evolved and to allow the chance to really wonder at the fantastic program that this is.

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If you get a chance head down to the WA Museum and have a look at this wonderful exhibition of Banshu-Ori fashion and textiles.