The new avant- gardes

WHEN her husband decided he wanted to leave the North Coast to study design eight years ago, Chantal McDonald packed up their two small children and drove with him to Melbourne, leaving the home they had built at Palmers Island and families behind.

Arriving in the southern city, the whole family had just days to prepare themselves for school, with Chantal being accepted into RMIT's Fashion Design Program.

Three years later, the former Maclean High School student teamed up with fellow designer, Susan Dimasi and a year later, Materialbyproduct was officially formed and launched on the international market.

Materialbyproduct soon became know for its philosophy of designing innovative textiles systems, rather than just garments designing new ways for cutting, joining, marking, draping and tailoring cloth.

They describe the materialised clothing as the 'by-product of these systems', hence the studio's name.

Their mission from the outset has been to build a relevant and contemporary fashion house that 'positively contributes to changing the way we live through fashion'.

They are driven by an inherent concern for the state of our environment and social conditions.

Over the past four years, Materialbyproduct has been awarded some of fashion's most prestigious industry awards, including the Premier's Award for both commercial and cultural fashion design as part of the Melbourne Design Festival.

Their garments have been exhibited at Craft Victoria and are regularly collected by The National Gallery of Victoria.

Experimentation has the studio producing tattooed kangaroo-skin garments that have graced the catwalks of Barcelona and a service that allows you to send in your old tee shirts in for a complete re-vamp by the design duo.

Already dressing the alternative musician Bjork in the past, the designers decided to fly to Sydney with a four metre long dress, hand beaded with 35,000 beads for the performer to possibly wear at her concert at the Opera House.

“Understandably she declined with the chances of falling over pretty likely,” Mrs McDonald said.

“... inventing fashion in the true spirit of the avant-garde”

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