“Often when I’m designing, inspiration comes from one part random media, one part personal life experience and two parts of some abstract mood I’m feeling.” Fashion is drenched in emotions and life experience for Queensland University of Technology graduate Neneh Browne.
After completing her university fashion line, her love for the field took her all the way through Europe and now New Zealand. “Something about fashion and creative work in general is that it’s ok for things to be ‘slow’,” she said. “[It’s] more than enough to just be making your way step by step … building up to bigger and better things!”
Neneh’s first step began years ago, back when she was a student at Queensland Academy of Creative Industries. “Someone a few years above me at school had gotten into fashion and it looked like she was getting to do a lot of really interesting stuff, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ and put my application in.”
Neneh’s journey into the competitive course of fashion design opened the doorway to overseas travel, landing her in Berlin. “Germany gave me so much inspiration, particularly through its incredible arts scene and wild nightlife,” she said. Neneh explored Berlin, Prague, Milan and Amsterdam, building a wealth of creative content. The end result combined cinematic costuming, European and queer culture into her graduate collection MANEATER 2016. “I use a lot of manipulated materials such as handpainted fabrics, prints, laser cut fabric and plastic to create interesting features but ultimately like to be conscious of two things: affordability and texture. I like to create ‘characters’ or muses for each collection or look. For MANEATER 2016, I created a fictional film concept about a gang of girls who roamed the street protecting other women but also just being a bit chaotic and violent and self-indulgent.”
Neneh now resides in New Zealand, her parent’s home country, and continues her fashion dreams alongside new florist work. “Transitioning from fashion design to floristry wasn’t actually a difficult process at all, I felt pretty comfortable re-purposing knowledge of things like colour and shape into floral design and overall really enjoy the line of work!” Currently, her fashion line can be found on her online store. “I’ve been drawing a lot on the experiences of adolescence as a woman facing the more unsavoury things such as assault and cruelty in ‘young love’ combined with a bit of a spirituality through tarot and ‘witch’ imagery so it’s coming together as an interesting mix. I am [also] starting to move towards more eco-conscious fabrics, such as bamboo based fibres and recycled fibre. However clothing design is a lot more complicated process than accessory design so at the moment I’m making a lot more accessories to sell while I experiment with the direction I want my clothing design to go in.”
Alongside her store, her line is stocked in stores around Brisbane, including Junky Comics in West End. Neneh thinks that it’s a fantastic opportunity for local designers and artists to showcase their work locally. “Junky has now stocked two of my jewellery collections and I’m currently in talks to expand to a few more stores in other cities so that’s really exciting. Places like Junky are always great for local creatives and I’m really thankful for having a connection to this sort of place.”
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