Sourcing the Muse


Georgia Chapman
Georgia Chapman (at left in the photo) graduated from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Melbourne with a BA in Textile design. She co-founded her textile-design based fashion label Vixen in 1993 and now supplies more than 20 outlets nationally and overseas with clothing, homewares and accessories.

Her starting point is always fabric, print and colour and she draws inspiration for patterns, motifs and mood from a variety of periods and cultures. From this she designs and produces a range of exclusive handcrafted printed fabrics in Vixen's studio. Working with Maureen Sohn, these textiles are styled into a fashion collection.

Vixen's design for Sourcing the Muse
Photo of the Vixen design worn by a model
© Vixen textiles
Diamond scarf: cotton tulle with handprinted foil design and glass tassels. Macrame obi: handprinted reactive dyes on viscose elastane jersey. Artefact skirt: dyes on power mesh, discharge and devore print on silk viscose velvet, silk georgette border.
Image designer and photographer: Sonya Pletes
Model: Kyra Clarke

Vixen's design concept - geometrics
Kuba ceremonial skirt c1940
'With this exhibition our design process has not been altered, but enhanced with the gift to source, touch and be inspired by textiles and garments from the Powerhouse collection.

'Bohemian Paris of the 1920s and 30s inspired our concept. A time in last century's mad rush, where style, morals, customs and art itself had all been subjected to an unprecedented acceleration. There was a sudden fascination with the exotic and primitive. A strange hedonist mix occurred. Based around this theme we delved into the archives to select fabrics that when juxtaposed and melded together emulated this. This mix and contrast of elements is an inherent part of our design style.

'Asyut' shawl early 20th century'Our fabrics for Vixen evolve, often taking weeks to produce by layering texture, colour, and pattern. The fabric is dyed, overdyed, hand printed, etched, embellished. We look back to other times, seek out new textile traditions to authenticate our work. By interpreting early arts and crafts, refusing to be typical and seeking out new ways to recreate the old, an archaic form of inspiration results in the creation of something strangely modern. We collect and create anew.

'Through our process of design we can create and inspire a narrative, an imaginative reverie generated by both the form of the garment and what is printed upon them. The seductive nature of our garments work on many levels: through the desire to caress and hold the sensuous fabrics, to enjoy the intellectual play of the origin of the design rendered to contemporary form, to partake in the game of revelation and concealment of flesh and cloth, and to delight in the visual play of pattern over surface.

Detail of Samoan 'siapo' (bark cloth) c1930'We are not interested in slavish reproduction, or to produce something to be grabbed for the season, but in creating a collection that is a considered response to a particular time and place, and as such does not date in the normal fashion that garments do. Our concern is for craftsmanship and the handmade. A quest for timeless simplicity, function and beauty.' - Georgia Chapman and Maureen Sohn

linkObjects from the Powerhouse collection that inspired Vixen
linkInterview with Georgia Chapman and Maureen Sohn