New pool of talent for Adelaide’s fashion scene

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By Melissa Keogh

Emerging fashion designer Brian Yambao could have picked anywhere in Australia to scratch his creative itch and study fashion.

But after falling in love with Adelaide during a work trip, the young designer who is originally from the Philippines, settled on honing his craft in South Australia.

This month Brian will watch his label Maelstrom glide down the runway as part of SA Fashion Graduate Parade, Unbound.

He is one of 27 TAFE SA and Flinders University fashion graduates who will show off their final collections on Thursday, February 8 on the grounds of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Brian will showcase six outfits under his label Maelstrom.

Brian says the parade is the culmination of three years of “learning, hard work and fun”.

“It also marks the beginning of our careers in the fashion industry as we look to the future with hopeful eyes, armed with newly developed skills and brimming with inspiration,” he says.

Brian is among the second lot of students to graduate from the three-year Bachelor of Creative Arts (Fashion), the highest fashion-related education course offered in SA.

Prior to 2014, fashion could only be studied through an Advanced Diploma at TAFE SA.

Brian says he sees “exciting things happening with the fashion scene in SA”, with the help of the rising popularity of the Adelaide Fashion Festival every year.

“It’s going from strength to strength with new designers and everyone is becoming more recognised,” he says.

“There’s no shortage of talent here, we have the capacity to be a big player, so it’s a very exciting time.”

Emerging fashion designer Brian Yambao.

In recent years Adelaide has seen many of its homegrown fashion talents become global businesses, including Australian Fashion Labels and Paul Vasileff of Paolo Sebastian.

Brian was recently mentored by Paul, an I Choose SA ambassador, through four weeks of work experience.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for Paul as a designer and the way he conducts his label,” Brian says.

Growing up in the Philippines, Brian moved to Australia in recent years and has lived in Alice Springs and WA.

He visited Adelaide for work when he was a graphic designer and was taken by the city’s accessibility and the lifestyle.

His move into fashion was prompted by his love for sketching.

“I never knew how to sew but have always sketched,” Brian says.

“So this (the TAFE SA/Flinders degree) has opened me up to new skills.”

Brian says his graduate collection of six outfits explores striking colours and textures.

“My main muse was a triumphant woman … and the metaphor for a phoenix rising from the flame.”

Tickets for the SA Fashion Graduate Parade are on sale here.

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