Abbey Rich is taking a break from fashion, and STRUCTURE is your last chance to see her work before she does

Hot Chicks with Big Brains had a quick chat with Abbey Rich about her upcoming show, Structure (part of Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival), as well as her decision to take a break from the fashion industry and what she’ll be focusing on instead.

 

Please can you tell us a bit about Structure and how it came to be?

Structure is a collaborative and individual project by Lara Ivachev (Eat Me Do) and myself. It was born out of one of my usual twenty-something freak-outs, trying to understand where I sit and where I need to be going.

Grappling with the idea of being a woman, being an artist, being emotional, being self reliant, being progressive, whilst listening to my wants, needs, and desires. Not settling for one box, but traversing the space in between.

The performance will deal with these ideas and be brought to life by my friends and creative collaborators.

Can you elaborate on your decision to take a break from, or possibly leave, the fashion industry?

Clothing started out, for me, as a vehicle to carry my artwork, to say what I needed to say. Something people can carry with them… it’s more accessible than a painting on a wall, more functional, and more portable. It makes sense. Artwork should be something you can have with you—it’s important and inspiring. I still believe this, but my conscience has never since settled—the more I get involved in the industry, the more I want to pull away.

I want to figure out how to make better decisions. How to consider the environment, the people that grow and harvest the cotton, hemp, and bamboo, the people that dye the cloth, the people that sew the garments, and the effect that this industry has on the earth, too. I was trying, but not hard enough. The waste that this industry creates is heartbreaking—it just doesn’t make sense. I want to learn more, experiment more, and consider things more.

I believe that in order to do that, I need to take a break. To reinvigorate my love for it, and to spend time working out how to make better decisions. So, for now, my heart might not be in fashion or in the near future. This is the last collection I’m doing, but I also know things might change. For now, my foray into fashion design is over. It’s been an amazing two years, but my heart currently lies elsewhere—I’ll be tattooing, painting, and breathing.

How have you ensured that this performance piece is both ethical and sustainable?

Simply put, it isn’t. It is conscious. I found more and more discomfort with the words ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ because fashion just can’t achieve these things—we are creating things that don’t need to exist, doing more harm than good. But, if we can use it as a platform to talk about our concerning consumer behaviour, I hope things will change.

Who are some of the women who inspire you most and why?

This list is constantly growing—women are fucking amazing. Currently obsessing over Marina Abramović; her life, her work, and her strength. The women in my life are constantly surprising me, amazing me, and inspiring me—the way they handle their work, their love, and each other will always fill my heart with such light.

What’s next for you?

I thought I’d go back to uni and finish my degree perhaps, but again I decided against it. I’d like to find a residency somewhere, live out of a van, run workshops, and hand poke tattoos along the way.

The idea of art you can take with you is still burning a flame in my heart and mind; I want to develop this idea and create work in response to this.

But, who knows really? I am excited to see where I wander.

In Melbourne this Wednesday? Don’t miss Structure!


Images by Sam Biddle featuring models Georgie Gifford and Esther Olsson in clothing by Abbey Rich and Eat Me Do.

Compiled and Edited by Emma Kate Lewis

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