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A ribbon print saree, anyone?

Three questions Susan Dimasi Australian fashion designer

Q. Could you tell our readers about the inspiration behind the saree that you have designed?
A. The inspiration behind the materials used was 18th century brocades that feature depictions of ribbons and lace in the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) collection.

Susan Dimasi Australian fashion designerSusan Dimasi Australian fashion designer

Drawing inspiration from these brocades, I had just completed hand weaving a large-scale textile also featuring depictions of ribbons and lace for my installation in the NGV show titled, Melbourne Now.

Vidya Balan in a Susan Dimasi creation
Vidya Balan in a Susan Dimasi creation

This textile was photographed and digitally printed onto silk crepe and has become known as the ribbon print. The ribbon print was suitable for draping into a saree because of its decorative nature which relate to the beautiful prints and decorative trims found on Indian sarees.

Q. Have you designed sarees before? Why do you have a keen interest in this traditional Indian attire?
A. I love cloth! I love the possibility that a length of cloth holds. So, I can relate to a saree as a beautiful length of cloth that comes alive when it is draped around the body.

I also love European tailoring. In my work, I fuse my love of cloth with European tailoring by cutting the cloth as little as possible; enough cutting for the cloth to come alive. The result is minimal tailoring, and pieces such that you can lay pieces flat and still see the original length of cloth.

When I look at a saree, I see a similar approach to tailoring. I would love to have the opportunity to visit India to study traditional dress and work with Indian silk, embroidery, and leather artisans.

Q. Have you ever been to India?
A. I have travelled to India many times, transported in the pages of my favourite art book, Indian Miniatures of the Mughal Court. I particularly love the miniatures, which mix European images of angels with Indian scenes.

I also adore the patterned borders and botanical rendering of flowers in these miniatures. When I am lucky enough to travel to India to bring my work and create new work, it will be the start of a life-long love affair.

The saree connect
Melbourne-based Susan Dimasi has always been intrigued by sarees. Taking this interest forward, Dimasi has created a ribbon print saree, which was recently sported by Bollywood actress Vidya Balan during the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2014.

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