London based contributor Ali Jeffery chats to hot young Australian designer Meredith Bullen about her graduate collection ADAPT.

Meet Meredith Bullen, an inspiring young Australian designer who recently graduated from the University of Technology Sydney with a Bachelor of Design (Honours) in Fashion and Textiles. Meredith’s graduate collection, Adapt, explores the idea of landscape, the body and dressing, as it draws inspiration from life in rural Australia. Initially a journalism student, Meredith found her feet in design, citing her passion for the process of creation as her main influence. We learn more about her collection, design process and plans for the future…

The Fashion Conversation: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your collection?
Meredith Bullen: The collection is called Adapt and everything centres on the idea of adaptability, which is characterised in the transformability of the garments. Some pieces have eyelets that can be tightened to draw in on the body or others use d-rings and loops, which let the fabric envelop the body and adapt to the wearer. It’s a mixed collection, so on the runway it was shown on both male and female models, which was really exciting. It has quite an androgynous style and everything is oversized. The textiles that I used, which are all handwoven pieces, were inspired by the landscape of rural New South Wales, where my parents live. The colour palette is mostly rust and the wheat colours mixed with denim. I used a wool-denim, which speaks into the historical nature of Australia’s trade and the silhouettes are inspired by workwear garments like the drizabone and tailored shirts.   

Image: Meredith Bullen, Daniel Gurton
Image: Meredith Bullen, Daniel Gurton

TFC: Beyond the Australian landscape, what else informed your collection? Did you draw inspiration from any existing designers?
MB: Faustine Steinmetz work a lot with denim. They will pull all the threads out of denim and then re-weave it into a new garment, so my technique of weaving kind of stemmed from them. Proenza Schouler, Marni, Calvin Klein and Chloe were the main fashion houses that I looked to for inspiration throughout the design process. Marni was a big one, I love all of their stuff. I like brands that work with a lot of interesting textiles but also use strong tailoring and big silhouettes that kind of envelop the body. And also a lot of hardware.

TFC: Can you tell us more about your weaving technique? How long did it take to make the textiles?
MB: It’s tricky to quantify because I didn’t really time myself. I weave on a massive loom in my house that my dad made. One piece would probably take 6-8 hours depending on the technique, so it was quite a time consuming textile to make. I taught myself to weave about three years ago and it was something that I really wanted to explore and hone through the collection. In third year we did one semester focused on menswear and the other for womenswear, and in both of them I chose weaving for my textiles. That was when I sort of fell in love with the craft and how you can explore it and push it so far.

Image: Meredith Bullen, Daniel Gurton
Image: Meredith Bullen, Daniel Gurton

TFC: Your runway show featured both men and women. How did this influence the styling?
MB: There are 13 pieces in the collection which all interact. One look might consist of the coat worn as a dress or it might be the trousers and a shirt layered with a woven pinafore over the top, and then a shirt and a skirt with the woven jumper. Because the silhouettes are so oversized, it’s the ability to transform the garments to suit each model that really made it unique.

TFC: Who do you see as the wearer? And do you have a favourite piece?
MB: I really love the jumper. It was actually one of the final pieces that I made and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out but it’s actually been the one that’s drawn the most attention with stylists. It is hard to have a specific wearer in mind because UTS really encouraged us to think beyond ready to wear. My tutors kept being like ‘more weave, more weave, don’t be scared, just go for it’ and that’s what you have to do to make a statement. I think the wearer would be someone who has a lot of confidence and wants to make a statement in their clothes. It definitely speaks to people who appreciate good design and the idea of slow fashion. With it having the kind of adaptability, it encourages the wear to find different ways the pieces can be worn instead indulging in fast fashion. Even though it is inspired by the Australian landscape it doesn’t necessarily fit the Australian climate because of the heavy weaving.

TFC: So what’s next? More study?
I am applying to a master’s program at Parson’s and hoping to move to New York next year. I think the Australian industry is really exciting but I want to gain some international experience first. My tutors at UTS have been really supportive so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Image: Meredith Bullen, Daniel Gurton
Image: Meredith Bullen, Daniel Gurton

About Ali Jeffery
London based contributor Ali Jeffery chats to hot young Australian designer Meredith Bullen about her graduate collection ADAPT. Originally from Australia herself, Ali made the move to London to study postgraduate journalism at the London College of Fashion and is now working at MATCHESFASHION.COM Ali loves gin, decorating her flat in East London and of course, discovering emerging designers.