From dairy calves to catwalk for designer Lindsay Whitehead

Lindsay-Whitehead 5275 web edited-1From dairy calves to catwalk for designer Lindsay Whitehead

Exotic costumes on a catwalk are a long way from feeding dairy calves but Upper Murray fashion designer Lindsay Whitehead takes it in his stride.

Lindsay, 29, uses breaks at the family’s Corryong farm to care for new born calves and irrigate pastures while perfecting his design skills and bespoke garments.

A career in musical theatre costume design has won him a place in the Melbourne School of Fashion, where he will fulfil an ambition to produce made-to-measure garments.

Also a trained milliner, Lindsay has entered the millinery section of the Henty Natural Fibre Awards in the past but last year’s event was his first with a complete outfit.

The entry was a full length, navy and white strapless evening gown with matching hat and made from pure cotton.

A love of singing and acting drew him to the theatre where he became involved backstage in musical productions held by Don Hillam Entertainment and Wagga Civic Theatre.

The creativity of the costume section drew him in.

As a young child, Lindsay had learnt basic sewing techniques from his mother Anne, a home economics teacher.

His interest was further developed during compulsory textile subjects in high school.

Lindsay’s skills were put to good use making theatre costumes and headwear for Wagga Wagga productions of Cabaret, Rent, Beauty and the Beast, Spelling Bee, The Boy from Oz, High School Musical and My Fair Lady.

“My Fair Lady was a challenge as it had a cast of 64 – I had up to seven women helping me sew the costumes,’’ he said.

He did everything from pattern making to sourcing costumes from other theatre companies for the sell-out show.

For his efforts, Lindsay was awarded the Canberra Area Theatre Award for best costumes in a musical in 2012.

He has studied under Wagga Wagga milliner Rose Organ, with his creations making the finals of the Wagga Gold Cup fashions on the field.

“My designs are rarely conservative – I like to make a statement with bespoke or one-off pieces,’’ Lindsay said.

His mentors include Japanese designer Shingo Sato, who produces stunning three-dimensional pieces, and former Christian Dior designer John Galliano.

Anne said her son had made her a few outfits, including a black coat.

“If someone is looking for something spectacular, he’s their man,’’ she said.

Lindsay has been accepted into the Melbourne School of Fashion, starting next month.

“I am not interested in working for retail clothing brands, producing a collection of ready to wear clothes but making custom made, one-off garments for individuals,’’ he said.

“I don’t enter the Henty awards to win but hope people watching the parade will appreciate the design work that has gone into the garment.

Lindsay conceded he enjoyed “putting my designs out there as you never know whose looking.’’

He is keen to use more wool, saying wool was usually promoted to young designers as suiting fabric.

“Wool is versatile and there is no reason why we can’t make exotic dresses out of it.’’

Lindsay will be among a host of amateur and professional designers to enter this year’s Henty Natural Fibre Awards.

Organiser Lyn Jacobsen said the awards recognised the innovative use of natural fibres in creative but wearable clothing.

Prize money 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.

For more details contact Lyn Jacobsen on 0428 690 222.