“There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing all your hard work and dedication fly down the runway to the applause of an audience,” says fashion and international studies graduate Hannah Tan.
Since the unveiling of her honours collection, Amalgam, at last year’s annual UTS Fashion and Textiles Show, Tan has been awarded the Australian Fashion Foundation Scholarship for 2016/2017. The scholarship will see her take home a $20,000 grant and an internship at a European or New York fashion house. Previous winners have interned with designers including Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg.
I challenged myself to be experimental, so the collection reflects the way I see the world and where we’re heading in the future.
“It all still feels like something I might have simply imagined,” concedes Tan. “Honours was the most challenging year I have ever been through, both physically and mentally – it takes everything you have.” But it’s all paid off.
Not only has Tan been named a ‘young designer to watch’ by Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ Australia and more, she’s also been praised by fashion insiders for her complex use of contrasting visual aesthetics in her menswear collection – an area of fashion Tan says remains quite conservative.
Her collection, which was partially funded by a $2000 The Woolmark Company grant, combines tailored tweed elements with bright bursts of silk and other unexpected fabrics, to explore the liminal spaces of gender, tradition and culture.
“The collection stemmed from my dissertation research, from my personal experiences and from everything I had picked up along the way, like my semester abroad in England where I was introduced to tailoring,” Tan explains.
“I challenged myself to be experimental, so the collection reflects the way I see the world and where we’re heading in the future.”
Tan admits she wasn’t always sure that fashion was something she wanted to pursue, but her desire to be hands-on and work creatively drove her towards UTS and a career in fashion design.
“I also had big dreams to travel,” adds the young designer. “And UTS uniquely offered a combined degree where I could study fashion and go overseas.
“Although it was a six-year commitment, it was worth every moment. I was granted opportunities to travel for study more than I could have anticipated, and these experiences were the greatest times of my degree.”
Those opportunities included a year in Rennes, France, for the language and culture component of her international studies degree, as well as a semester in England where she studied tailoring at the University for the Creative Arts Rochester.
Reflecting on her time in Europe, and her finished collection, Tan says, “There is something truly special about being immersed in another culture.”
“We’re so oversaturated with information, so exposed to a plethora of influences, and so interconnected to the point where we no longer associate ourselves with one defined identify.
“I think it’s a beautiful experience to be part of a blend of cultures, languages and ways of living that are perpetually growing and changing.”
Amalgam shoot - Photographer: Levon Baird; Hair & make-up: Tracy Terashima; Model: Sean Brady (Vivien’s Models); Location: La Porte Space