When Sarah Seahorse and Luna Aquatica met at a festival as teenagers and each noticed the other was dressed head-to-toe in handmade clothing, they knew they’d become good friends.
Both come from a family of seamstresses, learning the craft from a young age. The self-confessed “fabric freaks” and textile hoarders, both students at Melbourne’s Victoria University, work out of a very small, colour-packed home studio. They’re believers in handmade, local, ethical fashion, rejecting sweatshop labour, disposable fashion, and mass consumerism in their work and lives.
This year, they entered WOW for the first time, and were thrilled to have their garment selected. Though they grew up in Australia, WOW has loomed large in their fertile imaginations for a long time. For Luna, it was ever since she saw a WOW programme in a local library. It was “this bizarre and amazing show in a far-away land”.
“I already had a pretty wild imagination as a young person but seeing people who brought the creatures and characters in their mind to life through textiles and found objects was very inspiring,” she says. “Seeing all the amazing and weird costumes (particularly the Bizarre Bras) definitely contributed to my fascination with both elaborate character costume and puppetry.” After finishing high school, she studied community theatre, focusing heavily on puppetry, costume and mask work.
Sarah also saw a WOW programme when family friends brought her one after seeing a show on a visit to New Zealand. “That programme opened up a whole new world of ideas and inspiration to my 16-year-old brain,” she says. “It definitely helped shape new ideas and new possibilities for my own art and expression as a young person.”
She was already interested in textile arts, but believed the WOW programme helped direct her to Melbourne to study textile design after she finished high school. She then went on to study costume design. “The high level of skill and ingenuity of the costumes at the WOW Awards were a huge inspiration for me to keep creating over-the-top wearable art creations and head dresses,” she says.
Now having worked in the industry for 10 years – Luna as an artist, and Sarah as a freelance milliner, costume designer/maker, and textile artist – both have developed a strong desire to help others express themselves through art. Sarah enrolled in a Bachelor of Community Arts at Melbourne’s Victoria University, and Luna in a bachelor of Youth Work.
Their love of hand-made works is as strong as ever, and they also think that merging wearable art and costume is an inspiring statement of self-expression and adornment. Not only is WOW a brilliant expression of people’s unique hand made creations, they say, but it also has the possibility of exerting a powerful influence on the international fashion world.
– Naomi Arnold