Wool takes centre stage

Rosemary Sorensen | Bendigo Weekly | 06-Jul-2012

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WARM WELCOME: Charlotte Smith is a woman of wool.
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FASHIONISTAS, farmers and fans of all things woolly will make fashion history at the 2012 Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo on July 20 to 22.

A record number of visitors are expected to join the seven Women of Wool, selected to share their love of the fibre, at the Sheep Show’s 135th anniversary.

Six Women of Wool events ranging from a display of international vintage woollen couture, Australia’s best woolcraft, a comedy luncheon, and the country’s top contemporary woollen fashion design parades will highlight wool’s importance in fashion.

Charlotte Smith, a 2012 Woman of Wool and the custodian of a 5500-piece collection of vintage clothes and accessories, said the Women of Wool events focus on a universal and enduring love for the fibre.

 “The story of wool begins with land and a farmer, it moves on to the artisan or factory before meeting, as bolt of fabric, the dressmaker, the tailor or fashion designer before ending up with a very happy customer,” she said.

“And this has been the story of wool for centuries and one which will continue for centuries to come.”

 The seven 2012 Women of Wool, passionate advocates of their industries and hobbies, have been chosen to tell the story of wool from the sheep’s back to the catwalk and beyond.

They include curator and author Charlotte Smith, woolgrower Pip Merriman, TV presenter and woollen babywear designer Catriona Rowntree, fashion designer Lisa Gorman, woolcraft expert Emma Gering, textile educator Katrina Wheaton-Penniall and creator of knit and design studio Hazel Green, Jackie O’Brien.

 The first of the Women of Wool events launched this week is Wool in Couture, a display featuring the Darnell Collection’s finest woollen garments, at Bendigo’s Dudley House until July 22.

“The display reflects what is so special about wool for me,” Ms Smith said.

“It is a fibre that has been used for thousands of years in fabrics that have adorned Roman gladiators and has continued to be the fabric of choice through the ages. Wool has integrity.”

 Women of Wool co-ordinator Abigail Place said the best way to celebrate the luxury of wool is to combine it with the luxury of taking the whole day off to enjoy a number of Women in Wool events on Friday, July 20.

 “We have called for a national day off so that women can attend The Australian Sheep and Wool Show’s Laugh @ Lunch, view high fashion and wearable art fashion parades and see Australia’s top Woolcraft competitors at their best, “ she said.

“Our event series is a celebration of the women who grow and work with one of the world’s most beautiful natural fibres – it so exciting to see the events’ popularity growing every year.”

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