>> Clothes with issues attached.  Discuss.  How else to approach Ingrid Verner’s latest collection under her solo Verner moniker, called “White Wash”, addressing and exploring the history of the “white Australia policy” whereby until 1950, European/Caucasian immigrations into Australia was intentionally favoured.  It’s loaded for sure, but not without purpose or poignance.  Ingrid initially researched the works of American fashion designer Patrick Kelly, the first person of colour to be admitted as a designer member of the Chambre Syndicale in Paris in 1988.  That sent me on a Google spiral to find out about Kelly’s work, which was on the surface a body-conscious, button-embroidered ball of fun, but its light tone was often counterbalanced by commentary on racial stereotypes, such as his use of the golliwog doll face on his logo.  This is something that Ingrid has picked up on when charting her own interpretation of the phrase “White Wash”.    Sadly, not much has changed since Kelly’s death in 1990.  We’re still lauding the fact that people like Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air or Olivier Rousteing are exceptions, rather than the norm, in our industry.  Whilst it probably wasn’t Ingrid’s intention to pass comment on the racial make-up of the fashion industry of today, it’s difficult to ignore the pertinence of the phrase “White Wash” when you look at models and to a lesser extent designers and people in the industry behind the scenes.

Ingrid also looked to Aboriginal artist Destiny Deacon, who uses humour and satire and again recognisably “black” memorabilia such as black dolls in her mixed media work to confront issues about Aboriginal civic issues.  Ingrid seems to carry on that mantle by using her clothes to look back on Australia’s past, as well as subtly pointing out current day discordances.  ““It is my job as an Australian designer to look inward into this country’s history including areas of political correctness,” she says.  All of this and the implications of wearing a collection, literally stamped with the words “White Wash” doesn’t get away from the fact that Ingrid has created a collection that’s desirable, beyond any socio-political commentary.  She continues to use street wear archetypes, with the added “softness” found in childrens wear.  Sweatshirts, skirts that tie around the waist, quilted jackets, trackie bottoms and dressing gowns all have a slouchy, spongey and deliberately sterile feel.  The “White Wash” which Ingrid physically refers to through the faux-bleach packaging print and the golly doll print are mirrored in the white-out surfaces which Ingrid creates through brush stroke digital prints, puffed-up dots and lime and chalk-derived textures.  Patent trash bags and metallic totes complete this intriguing and introspective look at something that so often gets brushed under the carpet.  Ingrid confronts without being facetious and it gives her work a shade of interest that makes me all the more glad that she’s back on the Australian fashion scene, having taken a break from her previous guise as one half of label T.V.

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Comments (19)

  1. Lauren S says:

    i really like the strong message behind this collection, it makes the designs and ideas so much more significant and a really solid piece
    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Fashion Lifestyle + Photography – http://www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk
    Vote for my blog here !

  2. Naz says:

    Beautiful! I saw you at waterloo on Saturday should’ve asked for a photo

  3. Steff says:

    I love when designers put this much thought behind a collection, and when collections like this show that fashion isn’t just about something to wear. I wonder how many customers would be aware of the political/historical meaning behind the White Wash collection though. Is there a blurb on the hang tag, or an explanation in a catalogue that is put in the bag when you buy one of the pieces? It’d be sad to think that all that subtlety was for nothing, if all the buyers though it was some sort of ironic or retro print but didn’t care to find out the meaning.

  4. Sophie says:

    Wow, it’s so interesting learning about the backgrounds to collections. I have noticed more diversity in fashion models lately but there is still much more to be done. The clothes are gorgeous too.

  5. Liz says:

    can’t get over that white bag!!

    http://hashtagliz.com

  6. Peter says:

    To maximize racial dissonance, pair with Dolce & Gabbana’s blackamoor earrings.

  7. Sophia says:

    I love it when designers produce meaningful collections – the marriage of message and aesthetic elevates the pieces to “art work” status. Race is definitely a talking point in fashion at the moment, so it’s great to see it extend beyond colours of models to the clothing itself too. Really interesting post!

    http://www.girlinmenswear.com

  8. Alice says:

    This collection is absolutely amazing!
    http://fashion-soup.com/

  9. kiri says:

    Thanks so much for this post on a fellow Australian and a designer.
    It’s an interesting concept. White wash because the clothes are white and you wash them. White wash because of the white only policy of yesteryear.

    I love the texture of the white dots on the fabrics and I really love her garbage bag like bags and their presentation in the final shots…
    I like the last bleach bottle shot too… 🙂
    Kiri
    http://www.fashionblender.com.au
    http://www.facebook.com/FashionBlender

  10. Afua says:

    lovely collection. my favourites are the quilted jackets
    http://noveltyeye.blogspot.co.uk
    xx

  11. Julie Mackay says:

    Stunning collection. I agree with Sophia – ‘art work’ status!

  12. […] paramilitaire mauvaise ambiance, claqués sur un sweat par Gosha Rubchinskiy. À notre droite, le projet ultra-militant d’Ingrid Verner, une Australienne qui s’est interrogée sur la politique d’immigration occidentalo-centrée de […]

  13. gerri says:

    If only there were more aboriginal designers getting their own message out there too!

    • stylebubble says:

      Well as it so happens… Australian Indigenous Fashion Week is around the corner. http://www.aifw.com.au
      I kind of hate the idea though that Australian Indigenous fashion has to be segregated away from Australian fashion week… I can see they’re trying to make it feel more “special” but I’d much rather see it become a part of MBFWA…

  14. NAMELESS says:

    Great collection, mono colors are great and the white is amazing!

  15. […] autour de sujets inattendus : si "White Wash", la collection automne-hiver 2014/2015, se penchait sur le thème du racisme, "Eat Cake", la collection printemps-été 2015, aborde le "complexe d'infériorité culturelle de […]

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