A design star is born

A design star is born

Melbourne-based designer and 2022 Whitehouse Institute graduate Baaqiy Ghazali was the winner of last year's Myer Fashion on the Fields Emerging Designer Award.

Kirstie Clements 8 June 2023

Ghazali impressed the judges with her strong and directional flurry of black silk, paired with patterned tights with built-in stiletto heels.

My design represents the exaggeration of human anatomy shrouded in black organza … viewing fashion as protective shells and the extension of human psyches.”

What made you enter Myer Fashions on the Field?

It was such a great opportunity to be seen and to show my work – actually my design teacher at Whitehouse suggested that I enter. As a student, I really want to get my name out there, and of course, because one of the winning prizes was to be featured in Vogue! I submitted four designs and three of them made it into the top ten! That’s incredible – to think there were seven other designs and three of mine, that's just amazing to me!

Tell us about the winning outfit.

It was inspired by the cycle of life. The inspiration for my graduate collection starts from the beginning of life and then through the process of decay. That outfit is the final look in the collection, so it represents decay. I’m subverting the  design principle of form follows function. This is the inverse, taking elements of a garment away, removing certain things so it looks a bit disjointed. There are a few openings the wearer can put their arms through. It is a reaction to the times, it’s quite dark.  

 What was the process behind it?

It has a crinoline base layered with black silk organza. I first created the structure, and then added 10 metres of organza, which I cut into strips and gathered into ruffles. You can really see transparency in the garment, it has that dimension, because the crinoline shows cream and white against the black.

I think it took me about two weeks to make, as it required a lot of hand sewing.  I had so many blisters on my hands, but they were worth it.

Tell us about the prints in your designs. Where are they from?

All prints on my designs are original prints that I developed from hi-res scans, or photographs of my original artwork, such as paintings or drawings. I also use my personal photography of chosen subjects and then digitally manipulate them into vibrant prints.

Where do you get your inspiration?

For the winning piece I gravitated towards a dark colour, but the first look in the collection was bright and colourful. I was inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama and her art installation called Love Is Calling, which was really exploring life and death. That’s how I was inspired to do my collection, ‘Love is Calling For Wonderland’ based on the concept of life and death, and the world of Alice in Wonderland. I like to think conceptually when I design. I feel like something that’s close to the human experience makes people relate to the collection more easily.

How did you feel on the actual judging day?

It was such fun! When I was going into it, I thought that all the entrants would be showing multiple looks, but when I got there, I was the only one! The judges were looking for someone with clear vision, and who had something to say, but I did present designs that were race appropriate, even if they were pushing the boundaries, like a top and a skirt, rather than a massive floor length coat.

Now you have won this award, what are your plans going forward? 

I would love to have my own label. I want to create avant garde pieces that are still wearable. I think as artists and designers we put a lot of thought into what we are creating, and I want to express my visions and creativity as much as I can, but without compromise. It is a sort of take it or leave it kind of approach – the customer will either like it or they won’t. But I also feel like there’s so much more for me to learn. I feel very blessed to be appreciated for my designs, and I would love to just start working right away, but I’d also like to learn more about the couture side and the technical side. I think that’s something I’d enjoy.

So what’s next on the agenda?

I was part of Melbourne Fashion Hub. I also created a special piece for the St Ali coffee brand, made entirely of coffee pods, as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

How would you describe your design philosophy and your approach to fashion in three words?

Conceptual, surreal, avant-garde.