Dilettante is pleased to present two exclusive new capsule collections by past recipients of the North Metropolitan TAFE Dilettante Award: Blake Harding (2019) and Mariaan Pugh (2017).
We brought Blake and Mariaan into the Dilettante studio for a chat about their collections and developing practices.
Blake's eye for sleek, precision tailoring is distilled into a whip-smart set of three classic garments. Each dress, shirt, and trouser is discerningly crafted by the designer's own hand and presented for the first time exclusively at Dilettante.
Blake, after winning the Dilettante Prize with your TAFE graduate collection in 2019, you went straight to earn your bachelor's degree with an extra year at Curtin. How did university challenge you?
Yes, that's right, I went on to do further studies the following year. It was beneficial for me. Uni is very theory-based - it forced me to develop my skills to be able to communicate my work to the listener, which is something I had struggled with previously. Having both the construction and theory knowledge has helped in refining my work and vision.
We loved your graduate collection, tailoring is obviously an obsession for you. Can you tell us about what you wanted to create for this Dilettante capsule?
Thank you! Tailoring is definitely a strong interest and tends to be what most of my work gravitates toward at the moment. Womenswear has always been a keen interest and having the opportunity to develop a womenswear capsule collection has been exciting. The collection takes cues from some of my previous work while emphasising the beauty of simplicity. Sophistication, generosity, ease, and comfort were key focus points. It's an offering of an everyday vesture that is uncomplicated.
You made everything with your own hands for this collection, from pattern making to sewing. How did you manage it? We're so impressed by your sewing skills!
That's kind of you. The start to finish process has always been so satisfying to me. From conceptualising to toiling, problem solving, refining, and then making. Having the passion for the process definitely helps make it manageable. Construction is another focus of mine when it comes to garment making - also questioning and making sure each product communicates quality and longevity.
Would you like to do more designing?
Definitely. Designing is exciting, and developing an offering in line with your creative vision that resonates with others is pretty special.
Apart from fashion, what else inspires you?
So many things. Everyday life is pretty inspiring. My friends' creative endeavours and successes. The passion an individual has for a particular topic. Perseverance - there is a real strength in someone refusing to quit. Music, architecture, interiors, furniture... I just find so many little things and moments inspiring!
What would you like to be doing this time next year?
This time next year I hope to be abroad somewhere - London's the first stop, I think. I want to work for a brand that aligns with my interests - a brand that I can learn from and develop my skills with. That being said, my plans are also pretty open-ended. I never know quite what will pique my interest - so I'm taking my opportunities as they come. Eventually I do want to take my experiences and skills and invest in myself on a personal venture, whatever that may be.
Mariaan's diverse practice has moved from strength to strength since her initial showing of tufted wall works at Dilettante in collaboration with neon artist George Howlett in 2017. Always imbued with a colourful sense of humour and play, Mariaan returns to Dilettante with a collection of one-of-a-kind, upcycled vintage shirts hand-printed with Mariaan's signature flower print.
Mariaan, last time we crossed paths was in 2019 when you made some beautifully embroidered sleep masks for us. What's have you been up to since then?
Since 2019 I've been working on my art practice, investigating different rug making methods, including tufting, rug hooking, and punch needle. I’ve been spending more time at The Children’s School of Contemporary Art teaching fashion and textiles and some art classes. And last year I started working at North Metro TAFE teaching textiles and machine knitting.
You graduated from North Metro TAFE in 2016 - what's it like being on the other side of the teacher's desk?
It’s the best! I have some of the best memories from my time studying at TAFE, and now I get to be there all the time! I love working with the students and I feel very lucky to be teaching subjects I’m so passionate about.
When did you start exploring print making and what do you enjoy about the process?
I started screen printing during my textiles degree and fell in love with it. I enjoy every part of the process; mixing colours, coating the screen, experimenting with layers of different prints, I even love cleaning the screens!
You've created such a fun capsule collection for Dilettante. How did this style come about?
It started with a shirt I wanted to make just for myself. Some friends saw the shirt and wanted their own, so I collected their old button ups and started printing! For this collection, I've sourced the shirts from local opshops. All the colours I use come from screen print inks left over by students at the end of term. It's been a lot of fun trying to pair up colours I may not have mixed myself.
What else is in the works at the moment?
For the last year I've been working with artist Desmond Taylor, transforming a series of his paintings into textile works. We will be showing our work together at Fremantle Art Centre in August this year.
Blake and Mariaan's capsule collections launch exclusively in store at Dilettante at 6pm, Thursday 14th April. Collections launch online Friday 15th April.