Fashion that moves and heals

September 4, 2014 9:03 pm

I’ve been inspired since creating the Mrs Australia gown a few weeks ago and I’ve been exploring the use of healing stones and semi-precious gems in my designs!

Mrs Australia stonework

The Mrs Australia Dress

Originally, all I knew was that I loved the idea of working with stones. I started with stones only of Australian origin, including turquoise, hematite and cultured pearls. More recently I have added new stones, including agate, goldstone, moonstone, amethyst, howlite, amazonite and others with complicated names I cannot recall at the moment! I selected them purely for their origins in the earth, which worked with the ‘Connected to Land’ theme of my latest collection.

Connected to Land series - dress with stone and Aboriginal artwork

Connected to Land series – organic cotton dress with agates (indigenous artwork by Deborah Bonar)

But when you work closely with something as I do, hand-stitching and attaching the little treasures to organic textiles and garments, you become intimately acquainted with them. In the same way that I come to know all the unique shapes and tones of a piece of handmade fabric, I found that, as worked with the stones, I started to notice their beautiful patterns and colours. The depth the stones added to the appearance of my designs became a much more important part of my choice to use them.

I started exploring the possibilities, such as installation art by using transparent thread to string the stones to dresses, giving them the appearance of being suspended in mid-air. This gave the gowns, when worn on the body, a wonderful kinetic quality – sparkling and moving in response to the movement of the wearer. 

Installation art

Installation art – stones threaded into spaces in fabric

I’ve also taken a leap into creating jewellery art pieces incorporating the stones, organic textiles and metals such as copper.

Copper wire and stones on a choker necklace

Copper wire and stones on a choker necklace

After doing more research on these stones, I discovered that gem stones have an ancient tradition in the healing realm. Since history has been recorded, stones and crystals have been used for their healing qualities. This was very exciting. I researched the healing qualities of the stones I was working with and found the following:

  • Agates attracts strength, providing protection from stress and energy drains. Agates have being used in jewellery since Babylonian times and are one of the oldest stones in recorded history.
  • Goldstone helps you attain your goals. Goldstone is also said to help you stay calm and stabilise the emotions. It can be used as an energy generator and can deflect unwanted energies, so it is also a protection stone.
  • Moonstone is strongly connected to the moon, the feminine, and to intuition as well. It is first and foremost a women’s stone, directly associated with the Mother Goddess. It is also associated with good fortune.
  • Amethyst is traditionally worn to guard against drunkenness and to instill a sober mind! However, it is also considered protection against toxicity, and can guard you from guilty and fearful feelings.
  • Howlite is a very calming stone. It is often used to relieve insomnia as it stills the mind for sleep or meditation, and can calm turbulent emotions and teach patience.
  • Amazonite is a harmony stone – helping you find focus both within yourself and with others. It will help you to communicate your true thoughts and feelings in a clear, concise way.

I like to think that these designs have yet another purpose – not just fashion; not simply art; but also healing and protective qualities. These pieces will make their exciting debut at Vancouver Fashion Week in just two weeks’ time and at World Fashion Week in Paris.

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Connected to Land Wearable Art Collection

June 9, 2014 9:09 pm


GREEN EMBASSY founder and designer Zuhal Kuvan-Mills, once again presents an outstanding collection of contemporary fashion. Zuhal’s new series, Connected to Land reveals a journey of discovery where land and fashion meet. Drawing inspiration from the palette of the West Australian bush, collaborations with West Australia visual artists, and her previous wearable Collections (Night in the Bush, Regeneration and Earth) this new series delivers captivating, wearable sculptures that ‘revision’ natural forms, rocks, waterholes, earth and precious, fragile leaf structures.

Zuhal’s conception for minimalistic, natural fashion is transformed into an exciting body of daring design pieces, striking evening and stylish day wear. These unique, naturally hand-dyed pieces utilise a subtle blend of complimentary fabrics, soft felted Merino, placed to work with playful pleats and glamorous flowing folds. Zuhal describes her embellishments as “biomorphic drawings, paintings and sculptures” viewing her creations as more than fashion, rather, textile artworks delivering a message.

Using locally sourced Australian alpaca, Merino wool and recycled organic natural fibres, hand-dyed with Eucalyptus leaves, Zuhal continues to produce works which proclaim her passion for “eco-consciousness”. The care in which the designer has spun, dyed, felted, stitched and embroidered these exquisite “textile sculptures for the body” is testament to her dedication to sustainability and quality. Zuhal continues to place great importance in recreating luxury through organic processes and the resulting works reflect her love of materials and her craft. The inclusion of precious found metal objects, pearls, hand-painted vintage glass represents her “transfer of memories from the past” into new expressions of land.

Her Connected to Land series focuses on an earthy palette with a blend of strong, black and white contrasts. Zuhal recreates an authentic Australian notion of beauty through the use of muted, rustic ‘Outback’ tones and “sunset” oranges that nourish the soul and reconnect with the earth.

For this collection of work Zuhal researched many culture’s responses to the land, with a particular focus on North American, Maori and Aboriginal art forms. She was inspired by their collective respect and view of the land as a living entity, entwined in their religious beliefs and daily practices.

Connected to Land is invigorated by the introduction of collaborative work by two West Australian visual artists, Deborah Bonar and Jude Taylor, who along with Zuhal, are based in the picturesque Swan Valley region of Western Australia.

Aboriginal artist Deborah Bonar and Zuhal share the ideology of drawing from their traditional cultural arts practices to create contemporary works reflecting their response to country. Printmaker Jude Taylor’s work is inspired by, “the ability of Western Australian wildflowers to sustain life in a hostile environment and the hardy Australian bush women, who were both able to flourish in a harsh West Australian environment.”

Deborah Bonar has exhibited widely in WA and has previously been the recipient of the coveted Cossack Art Award (Indigenous). She is represented in both private and public collections including the City of Perth and the Credit Suisse Art Collections.
Deborah’s artwork is an exploration and a celebration of her Gija and Yamatji heritage. She explains, through her art, she “reconnects with her Aboriginal culture. Creating art gives her a voice and the artistic expression to tell her interpretive stories of Aboriginal culture and her people’s strong spiritual connection to land, water and nature.”

Deborah and Jude are both renowned for their bright design work, combining traditional techniques with a contemporary palette. Both artists have collaborated to extend and reinterpret their traditional design practice to create works to inspire and create visions amongst the landscape for this collection.

The Connected to Land Collection flirts with earthy abstract shapes, natural prints, lush hand-made fabrics and sleek, sensual lines, sharing with you the artist’s respect, love and enchantment with the Australian Land.

Jenny Haynes