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The fashion of Fashfest: SOVATA – colours that really pop

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“The social etiquette of wearing a hat dates back centuries and it is said that we have since ‘arrived at the second hatless age’.”

When Jade Sargent was in her final year of study for her Bachelor of Design (Fashion) degree, she included this quote by painter and author Hilda Amphlett in an essay she wrote.

It became a light bulb moment for this 25-year-old designer, leading her to create two distinct elements to her independent SOVATA label—garments and millinery—which combine to create a cohesive, glamorous and unique ‘Fashions on the Field’ style.

‘I thought about the second hatless age,’ says Jade. ‘And thought about how hats are mostly worn at horse races. So why not create a total look that inspires people to wear more hats, since they’re so beautiful?’’

That SOVATA has achieved this is a massive understatement.

I’m not surprised that the highly creative and intriguing Jade was selected as one of the 25 designers whose work will be featured at Fashfest, a four-day showcase of Canberra fashion that will transform the nation’s capital from May 1 to 4. Jade’s next collection of race wear, stunning hats included, will be launched on the runway Thursday 2 May.

Jade comes from a creative family—her father is a creative metal worker by trade and her mother loves painting and led lighting. It’s no real surprise, then, that she oozes talent too.

And what fascinates me most about the SOVATA collection is that—while perfect for the races—it is also designed for comfort and to be worn anytime, anywhere.

‘The colours in the current collection really pop,’ says Jade. ‘The bright turquoise blue, deep royal blue and intense honeycomb yellow are high in contrast but work wonderfully together. The royal blue changes depending on what it sits next too. And while it took me a long time to find the honeycomb yellow fabric, once I spotted it I knew it would be perfect.’

I asked Jade about the fabrics she uses for her SOVATA label. She selects them carefully, for their feel and role in achieving her ultimate goal of designing pieces that are ‘contrasting and feminine but in a non-obvious way.’ And so it is that Jade uses a mixture of soft, see-through silk chiffon, cotton jersey stretch for comfort and leather binding and trim. She loves using sinamay fabric, kind of like a stiff mesh, for her hats, and even uses horse hair on some garments and hats, gathered by local vets and friends in Canberra, which she dyes in the collection’s strong colours.

Jade studied millinery in her last year at CIT, which led her to adopt a zero-waste philosophy. ‘With millinery you learn so much about materials and production methods,’ says Jade. ‘I was introduced to the way straw hats are made by being platted into one long line and then woven into the shape of a hat. I wondered what would happen if I made clothing out of one long stretch of fabric.’

‘There can be a lot of waste in fashion,’ says Jade. ‘As early as in my first year of my degree I realised this and wanted to seize the opportunity to start my fashion career without creating any waste.’

To achieve zero waste, Jade experimented and eventually adopted a somewhat unusual approach to designing. ‘I make 3D patterns and wrap the fabric around the patterns to transform them into garments,’ she says. This means sewing each piece in a single length of stitching. The approach eliminates waste and speeds up production.’

I was transfixed with how Jade’s millinery training influences her clothing designs in other ways too. ‘With hats you start with something structural to make the base and then add elements to make them soft and fluid,’ says Jade. ‘I do the same with clothing. For example, taking soft, flowing chiffon and teaming it with stiff leather. It’s an interesting final look, which creates a lot of movement on the catwalk. In the end, just as my hats develop their own personality, so too does my clothing.’

This year Jade adorned some of her own pieces and, for the first time, entered Fashion on the Field at Thoroughbred Park in Canberra—a scary and exciting experience.

And I couldn’t help wondering where the name Sovata originated. Another creative idea—S for Sargent, married with Ovata, the botanical name for Jade.

Check out SOVATA’s amazing race wear on www.fashfest.com.au

Having just graduated in 2012 from CIT, Jade is busy kick-starting her business and career here in the nation’s capital. She works from a home-studio and is developing a website and building a stock of clothing for sale. In the meantime, she creates custom hats and will make any piece she has designed to order.

Simply contact Jade on jadesargent@y7mail.com.au And why not follow her on Facebook—www.facebook.com/Jadesargent94?

Photo credits for group image.

Photography & Editing | Lori Cicchini
Designer | SOVATA
Models | Michelle Worthington, Emma Morrison, Amy Fuller, Crystal Tunningley, Nicole Luker, Amy Robin
Makeup Artist | Rebecca Bailey & Carley McIntrey
Hair | Antique Salon

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2 Responses to The fashion of Fashfest: SOVATA – colours that really pop

Belladonna says: 28 March, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Thank you, Jade, for wanting women to wear more hats! I’m a HUGE hat fan, not just for the races, but for everyday wear. I’m thinking Downton Abbey here?!…And your fashions are just AMAZING!

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