the squelching, sequinned, nsfw creations of amelia vivash

i-D steps inside this dark, sexual, Rainbow Brite world of the young designer, who's living in her very own adults-only Candyland.

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21 July 2016, 4:20am

Amelia Vivash's large scale works are bulbous explosions of sequins and guts, living somewhere between fur stoles and sculptures. When you see the designer in the flesh, they all make perfect sense. There's no distinction between Amelia's working aesthetic and day-to-day life. Her look is wild — she's often wearing rhinestones in place of her natural brows, and her hair's usually at least two or three colours. She looks like one of the original club kids: you can easily imagine her by James St. James or Leigh Bowery's side. There is drama and excess in everything she does.

Perhaps this is why she was so happy when she graduated from Sydney's Whitehouse Institute of Design, a school more focussed on classical workmanship and market readiness than Amelia ever wants to be. "I was just done with having a teacher telling me what I can and can't do," she explained to i-D. Nevertheless, her time there produced an incredible graduate collection. When Sydney stylist Kurt Johnson came across a few pieces he was, unsurprisingly, enraptured. Kurt shared it with friend and photographer Chloe Nour, who in turn passed it onto artist Carla Uriarte. Together, the pals invited Amelia to join them for this sweet and sour collaboration. We spoke to Amelia about her work and what she could possibly do next.

Your work is pretty atypical, do you see yourself as a designer or an artist?
I call my work soft sculpture. I say that I'm a fashion designer, but I make soft sculpture. I would say that I'm kinda like an artist, I still know all the technical fashion stuff too, like pattern-making.

We'll go with both—so much goes into these pieces. Right now I'm looking a one with a giant nipple on the front: I'm seeing sequins, feather boas and a lot of other stuff I can't even identify.
Yes! All that bloody sequining took forever. There's also a lot of wool I matted with paint and glue, and a black wig I ripped apart and stuck on in places. I have this stuff that you mix with paint to make it thicker, but I just used that on its own 'cause it looks so gooey. On one side of this big nipple thing I've attached these these flat, weird, marbly things: they're actually pom-poms which I wrapped up in loom bands then I melted that in a heat-press.

Another really theatrical piece is covered in googly eyes—it even has a face.
Yeah it's these two dogs, one on the front and one on the back. The collar is the dog's asshole, you put your head through to wear it. So its head is at your crotch and its legs are on each of your shoulders. It's humping you from behind, so it's like a beastiality piece.

Was explaining that to your teachers difficult?
They loved it! It was so different to other students who were more inspired by things like the ocean. The concept isn't that crass either, it goes pretty deep: each piece belongs to a different character I've made up, and each character has a personality and aesthetic of their own.

It's interesting that you're influenced by very adult themes: while the pieces don't look childish, there's definitely a feeling of playtime about them.
Yeah exactly! It's pretty dirty when you look closely. For one piece, I used condoms filled with all this other stuff. Some people look at it and think, "oh my god that's really cute." But then when they look closer, it's like "oh shit, that's like a condom."

I imagine it's very labour intensive—now that you've graduated, do you feel like you're done with large-scale pieces?
No way! I can't wait to go bigger, but right now I have no space in my apartment, so I wouldn't know where to put them. I need to buy a gallery or something!

Are you going to do that in Australia, or do you see yourself overseas?
I'm basically dying to get out. I want to go overseas straight away, to New York or London and just play! I wanna go over and make stuff for queens and club kids and performance artists.

So you see yourself making one off pieces for people that you really like? Given the nature of your work, it would be hard to ever make two of the same thing.
Exactly. I would never in a million years go into production. I do everything by hand, and the materials I use — like candlewax — just can't be in production. I don't just see myself making couture though. I'd like to make a second collection, like a diffusion line, that's more ready-to-wear. That way people could actually buy some pieces for themselves that are somewhat wearable, and they can actually wash. At the moment you can't wash any of my stuff!

Amelia Vivash

Credits


Text Isabelle Hellyer
Photography Chloe Nour
Styling Kurt Johnson
Makeup Constance Bowles
Hair Dolly Ward
Model Hannah Elyse @ Chadwick.