Bird-loving former ballerina wins 2019 Australasian Young Designer Award

Terry Sim, August 5, 2019

Former ballet dancer now designer Feng Weng Wang, left, meets her first Trefusis Merino ram held by model Val Little.

FORMER Chinese ballerina Feng Feng Wang designed her way onto the fashion stage with a win in the 2019 Australasian Young Designer Wool Awards at Hamilton’s Sheepvention yesterday.

The second year RMIT Brunswick fashion textile student won the prestigious award’s $5000 cash prize with her pure Merino wool jacket-dress set.

Feng said her winning sportswear/streetwear entry was inspired by the plumage of a fairy wren, with the garment’s blue hand-embroidered facing reflecting a male bird’s blue tail in winter.

“I discovered in the winter time the male fairy wren lose their bright blue feathers and only have a blue tail, so I thought that is the perfect colour for a winter collection.”

Feng said it was her first visit to Sheepvention and she met her first Merino ram during a media photo session in the ram shed with model Valerie Little after her win was announced.

Feng said she loved the texture of Merino wool and chose to give her garment a loose fit to portray the quality of the material she used.

“It had to be soft enough to capture the movement of the body.”

Hamilton Wool Monarch Marius Cuming, left, with model Val Little and 2019 Australasian Young Designer Award winner Feng Feng Wang. Image – Jill Frawley Photograpy.

Feng, 40, came to Australia about 20 years ago and is now married with two children. She performed as a classical ballerina in the National Ballet of China before returning to study contemporary choreography (Master of Arts degree) at the Victorian College of the Arts and becoming a teacher. She is also a contemporary dancer.

“I really like costume making for the theatre and wanted to know how to make them.

“So I have a whole idea about the aesthetic I want to present and I want to explore the relationship between the human body, textiles and visual arts,” she said.

She sees fashion as a career enabling her to be more independent.

“I patterned that garment, cut the fabric and sewed it all by myself, so it is a pretty independent project to do and to present as a different kind of visual art.”

Winning entry ‘heroes Merino wool’

Young designer Lily Egger, 15, with her mother Chris and father Dom at the Sheepvention awards.

Fashion parade convenor Jackie O’Brien said the 19th year of the awards was sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation. She said the judges Jill Whiting and Clementine Hurley said the entries were of a very high calibre involving exceptionally creative use of Merino wool, showcasing its versatility.

“This year’s overall winning garment demonstrates the most impressive design and construction.

“The look heroes Merino wool to its fullest potential and we believe this designer has a wonderfully successful future ahead of them,” the judges said.

Another feature of the 2019 awards was the first place in evening wear by young designer and student at the Hamilton and Alexandra College, Lily Egger, 15.

The main placegetters in the awards were: Evening wear – Lily Egger, THAC, 1st; Nayana Nilmini, RMIT Brunswick, 2nd. Racewear – Victor Namuthe, RMIT Brunswick, 1st. Corporate – Flora Sola, RMIT Brunswick, 1st; Emma Yilin, RMIT Brunswick, 2nd. Streetwear – Feng Fen Wang, RMIT Brunswick 1st; Alice Stewart, Gordon, Geelong, 2nd; Mikayla Newton, RMIT Brunswick, 3rd.

Hamilton’s Sheepvention rural expo continues today and tomorrow with sheep judging, the inventions competition, farm dog championships and the Merino ram sale, plus other industry and trade presentations.


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