in defence of gaudy: valona flamuri sees good fashion in bad taste
In her first collection, the designer wants to make you rethink rhinestones and glomesh.
Valona Flamuri believes in gaudy. She believed in tasteless. She believes in rhinestones, Glomesh, and snakeskin. She believes in them because she can make them work. The designer is proof that style can transform anything, and nothing is in bad taste if you know how to work with it. Her first collection is inspired by the way people dress in casinos, when the sun is long set and they're out to make an impression. To be clear, these aren't the looks you'll see if you head down to the pokies. They're more like costumes, projected fantasies to fit with an extravagant world she's out to create for herself.
Rhinestones and glomesh feature heavily, as do other other "gaudy" elements, are you out to challenge 'good taste'?
This came from me looking at rules around dressing in places like the casino. Focusing on this casino character I observed what people wore and how they acted in such a weird place of indulgence. Glomesh bags were a common item as well as shawls, slips, body-cons, suits and rhinestones. It was interesting to me that people were so motivated to dress their best because of this environment. I also looked at the casino's extensive "What not to wear" list, which stated "camouflage clothing", so in that instance I dressed camouflage in rhinestone, that should make it acceptable right? You can't get barred with a bit of glitz.
Glitz is a good word for the rich tactile and visual elements of the collection. What is it about that exaggeration of aesthetic that entices you?
There's always something about big budget luxury campaigns and editorials that I'm obsessed with. Every moment, pose and prop are carefully orchestrated. The idea of this pre-organised, heavily styled, scenario really interests me. My collection merely acts as 'props' just for these sorts of scenarios and images, as I see it is where my body of work is activated. Organising chaos seems to work well for me.
You also feature tapestries that seem a little out of step with what we've spoken about. They stand out because they feature images from your look book. But how do they fit into things?
The tapestry images came from a shoot I collaborated on with Nadeemy Betros and Alexandra Peters. We styled the garments in a trash setting, but complete with Vogue poses. I took these images to the next step by getting them woven as a tapestry blanket - in the middle ages textile hangings were seen as prestigious objects owned by the well-off. So I'm playing with the idea of value.
Text and art direction Jamie-Maree Shipton
Photography Agnieszka Chabros
Model Vyktoria Draganovic
Hair Xeneb Allen
Makeup Lily Swan
Assistant Jay-Dee Pitcaithly