Lynette was born and raised on the Northern beaches of Sydney, but is of Armenian heritage. Her mother’s family migrated from Iran to Holland due to political reasons, then from Holland to Sydney.
As an Australian born Armenian there were a lot of complexities growing up in different and contrasting cultures. A sense of cultural identity has been a challenge for Lynette and has often led to feelings of displacement. In her current personal project, Lynette tries to reconnect to her heritage in aim to feel a greater sense of cultural and personal identity, and hopes others with a similar experience can also feel understood. The notion of the ‘contrast and blending’ has also become apparent in her work and is explored within a wider range of ideas. This is seen in her designs through contrasts between the structured and the sculptural, between the masculine and feminine between shine and matte and between the historic and the futuristic.
GROWING UP… I was fascinated with all things creative. I was intrigued with the fashion imaginary as well as architectural spaces. I would collate styled shoots from magazines and keep the marketing pamphlets from brand retail stores that inspired me. My relatives were also very artistic. I have this beautiful image (left) of my cousin receiving a medal from the Shah of Persia for being number one at her Fashion College. You can spot Queen Farah in the background. My other relative, ‘Uncle Jo’, who definitely isn’t an uncle but we call him one anyway, was a brilliant Sculpter in his formative years (image below). However, It was my Nona who fascinated me the most by her style and poise. I felt she was part of this fictional reality I could only dare to be an observer in.
My sister and I spent our childhood doing a bunch of creative things such as ceramics, art, collaging, contemporary dance and music classes. Going to Bunning’s was the equivalent of going to wonderland. We would race to the colour sample section and take as many swatches as we could carry, and if she had a colour I didn’t then we would start to trade our colour assets. Actually, low-key I still do this. She turned out to be much better at handwriting than I, and is now a graphic designer. I found I was more passionate about fabrics and loved fashion as it brought together so many aspects of design such as architecture, photography, art direction, illustration and graphics.
I describe my design approach as... An exploratory investigation and experimental process of making with a focus on craftsmanship and sustainability. My approach is conceptually driven and inspired by the intersection between the abstract, the creative, and the functional. To me ‘craftsmanship’ and the skills involved in the process teach us so much. I think we sometimes forget the origins of fabric and the human hands that help create it. The attention to detail reminds us of the value and work that goes into each garment. It reconnects us with a deeper understanding of its origins and hopefully leads us to redefine how we place value on a garment and in-turn we become more mindful in our purchases.
Some significant influences on my designs are... Nature, sustainability, art, installations, furniture design, fashion history, sculpture, lighting, sounds, architecture, movement, and personal memory. But it can honestly be anything. It can be subtle things, the reflective tape on cardboard boxes to an obscure chandelier in an antique store. It could be a toy robot from 1980s or a tapestry work in my Nonas living room with her mismatched prints and Persian rugs. It could be a gesture, a mood, a scent or a feeling.
When women wear my garments I want them to feel… Powerful, artistic, mindful and authentic. Clothes can transform mood.
I believe “true style” is... Good question. I think it’s important to define fashion when speaking about style. Yuniya Kawamura puts it plainly in her introduction to fashion studies and states that “Fashion is a symbol manifested through clothing.”
Fashion, clothing and style are not all unified in meaning. Fashion isn’t about the physical garment but rather the embedded value. It’s about the values attached to clothing, the enticing imaginary that enchants its consumers. Finkelstein (1996) conveys this idea and points out that ‘consumers imagine they are acquiring these added values when they are purchasing fashionable items.’ In this sense, fashion is a symbol and clothes are a tangible product. SO when speaking about ‘style’ I think the idea of being ‘stylish’ could suggest the temporary vogue of dressing ‘up-to-date’ in the latest fashion, and not necessarily “True style”.
I believe ‘true style’ is having a strong sense of self that is authentic and continual. It’s also about the way you carry yourself and how you wear your clothes.
The biggest challenge about working in the fashion industry is.... Sustainability. The challenges are vast and complex and often overwhelming. It has only been in the past few years that I have really understood how damaging the Fashion industry is on the planet and people. It is imperative that we work together and make proactive changes. The demand and convenience of fast fashion have left consumers and brands to overlook the negative effects on people and the planet. By nature, it is fast-response system, which unfortunately encourages disposability. Many environmental and social issues emerge as a result of low cost production such as the exploitation of garment workers, rapid waste, over production and over consumption.
I embrace this challenge by....
As a consumer:
I invest in clothing that I adore and that will be worn numerous times and make sure they are produced with ethical accreditation or locally made. When you purchase something that has been designed well there is so much joy that comes with wearing that garment multiple times. As Vivienne Westwood said, “Buy less, Choose well”.
I highly recommend these phenomenal fashion podcasts and books by Clare Press- The presenter of Wardrobe Crisis podcast and Australian VOGUE’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large. I am in constant awe of all that she is doing to drive change in the area of sustainability and beyond thankful for leaders that are passionate, intelligent, wise and empower us to take action. She is inspirational - you MUST check out her latest book ‘Rise and Resist’ and did I mention her podcasts are available to listen to online completely free?
There is also a free course run by The London College of fashion and Kerring. I highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn more about sustainability and fashion and have linked it below:
As a designer I ask myself these questions:
What can I do to extend consumers connection to a piece of clothing and life cycle of a garment? How can I create a more sustainable approach or educate consumers about sustainability? What can I do to help eliminate unsustainable methods of consumption? How can I be mindful at every level of my work? Where will I make my clothes? Can this material decompose back into the environment? How can I maximise the use of this fabric? It really becomes a core part in the design process and affects an array of decisions.
In the first year of my Design degree, our digital Illustration teacher Kirsten Lee was such an activist for sustainability! I am so grateful for her passion and influence early on in our careers. She sparked awareness and empowered us to take responsibility in what we design, consume and create.
I feel most alive when... I get my buttonholes and press-studs professionally done.
In five years time I would like to… Continue living the creative life, have my own alexandrine parrot while working within a company that creates sustainably with a positive impact on the world.
I find purpose in my personal work through... Creating garments as works of art that have been mindfully made, with the aim of being worn for a lifetime. I also find a lot of purpose by creating unity between experimental textile forms, with wear-ability.
What I am most proud of in my career... Happened not long after graduating my Fashion and Textile Honours degree from the University of Technology in Sydney. I moved to Italy after receiving an accessory design and product development scholarship to train at Bottega Venetas Atelier in collaboration with IUAV.
It was an honour learning from the absolute masters in their field - consisting of technicians, innovators, and artisans. Each highly creative and intelligent. They wanted to invest what they had learnt over a lifetime to us. Beyond pattern-making and craft I learnt to work to luxury standards. Their mentorship has really shaped the designer I am today and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity.
The whole experience was magical really. There were no cars, and the main mode of transport was walking or by boat. It almost felt a little unreal, like living in a magical wonderland. Can I also recommend Venchi gelato, Cuordi Cacao flavor. 10/10. Thank me later…
To view more of Lynette’s work click here