High fashion celebrates birds on the wing at Henty field days

September 11, 2014

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The gown designed by Chrystene Antonis and Marlene Leckie mimics the colours of native parrots.

A pure wool gown featuring the brilliant colours of Australian native birds is set to be a showstopper in the Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards.

The dress, designed and made by Victorian beef producers Chrystene Antonis and Marlene Leckie, was a winning garment at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo in July.

Chrystene, of Euroa, and Marlene, of Kerrie, used the red rump parrot and rainbow bee eater as inspiration for the colours in the dress.

“The front of the dress is subtle while the back features all the colour of the parrot as it takes flight. The 1930s style hat mimics the underwing of the rainbow bee eater,’’ Mrs Antonis said.

Wool Charne, a fabric developed by Albury woolgrowers Leon and Sandra Martin from their unmulesed Charmac Merino flock, was used to make the dress.

Mrs Antonis spent two weeks dyeing the fabric.

As a member of the Australian Sheep Breeders Association wool craft committee, she helps co-ordinate the craft and fashion program of 68 classes at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show.

“I just love working with natural fabrics such as wool and silk,’’ she said.

“The Wool Charne drapes well – we cut the whole skirt on the cross and it just falls beautifully with no zip, fasteners or buttons, it just slips over your head.

“This dress has been a labour of love and I couldn’t count how many hours have gone into it.’’

The 11th Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards, held at the field days on September 23-25, will showcase designers who have created garments containing at least 70 per cent natural fibres.

Open to amateurs and professionals, the awards recognise the innovative use of natural fibres – from paddock to catwalk – in creative but wearable clothing.

Awards organiser Lyn Jacobsen said the natural fibres could include wool, alpaca, angora, mohair, cashmere, cotton, silk and linen.

“We have around 70 entries in the awards and more than 30 hats so the judges will be busy,’’ Mrs Jacobsen said.

Prizemoney of $2000 is offered for the best garment in natural fibre with $500 each for the best knitted or crocheted garment, accessory and millinery item.

Bernina and Julia’s Fabric Boutique, Wodonga, have donated a Bernina Activa 125 sewing machine as the encouragement award for the best garment by a student designer.

The judging emphasis is on visual appeal, creative and innovative use of the fibres – not necessarily on garment construction.

Award entries will be modelled each day of the field days with parades at 1pm in the Country Lifestyle pavilion. The winners will be announced about 1pm on the Thursday.