Finalist 2021


Oscar Keene

'Fluid' - a hybrid digital/physical fashion collection exploring the expression of queer selfhood during the pandemic.

'Fluid' was made as a celebration of queer selfhood during the pandemic. By fusing physical and digital mediums, this work reduces waste and expands on the potential that exists within the fashion industry to create dynamic, immersive collections and fashion content that can be experienced by a wider online audience. ‘Fluid’ celebrates non-traditional narratives that reflect the lived queer experience and the increasingly diverse identities that fall under that expansive category.

Design Brief

My collection 'Fluid' explores queer selfhood during the time of COVID-19 addressing the questions; how does the queer body intersect the material and relate to space when traditional boundaries are in flux? What does queer safety look like when queer community is fractured?

The intended outcome was a fashion project that utilised non-traditional tools to create an immersive and engaging fashion narrative with tangible garment products.

'Fluid' is the result of practice-led research & development of a digital methodology to devise & showcase digital fashion content through the creation of hybrid physical/virtual fashion content.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

My digital work is born from academic and ethnographic research into queer materiality and queer communities, in relation to the way our lives have radically changed during the pandemic. Physical garments were created in accurate correlation to the digital content facilitated by physical and digital swatches to highlight the complex and intimate relationship between virtual and physical fashion.

Experiments in the digital space through a layered 3D software workflow influenced the shape and form of the final physical garment products. They each present different silhouettes, textures and geometries in non-gendered outcomes that reflect their digital origins. Their glossy artificial veneer investigates transitory boundaries between space and queer selfhood, and they are also a practical manifestation of the potential for slow fashion to be prototyped accurately digitally and then made to order.

This technology adapted to fashion can engage the viewer in a different way to live streamed runways and conventional photoshoots, and can connect the artistic, conceptual framework behind a collection to the viewer with significantly reduced waste.

The final outcomes are an 8 minute conceptual runway created entirely digitally, and to illustrate the increasingly enmeshed relationship between physical and digital fashion, a corresponding lookbook of the real physical non-gendered garments photographed and superimposed into digital spaces.

Design Excellence

This work is intended to begin to merge art, fashion and commerce in an increasingly accessible way. Australia has already demonstrated its competitive international-standard digital prowess in film and animation.

My work expands upon this potential within the fashion industry by laying the groundwork for a local digital fashion house, which can give access to artists and performers globally to have creative visions realised without the initial requirement for physical modes of production, and begins to deconstruct the exclusive hierarchies embedded within the fashion industry.

In 2020 Helsinki Fashion Week went entirely digital, and a small number of young new designers demonstrated their adaptability to a changing industry in profound and artistic modes of digital self-expression, and other designers demonstrated their urgent need for animators to produce their conceptual fashion content on virtual runways.

One of the digital designs from this collection opened a video of a physical runway during Melbourne Fashion Week in 2020, demonstrating the adaptability of this technology to pre-existing modes of fashion communication. The digital animation and corresponding images of 'Fluid' have been selected to appear globally in fashion festivals, fashion film festivals, and fashion competitions, demonstrating that the global fashion industry is receptive to and capitalising on the expanding digital landscape.

Design Innovation

In 'Fluid' the garments, their models and the environments they inhabit purposefully share properties based around the colour and texture of the material and the design of the garment in a way that rejects hierarchies, facilitated by a combination of 3D software.

The animations illustrate novel visual and physical relationships between concepts, and investigate a new ethics in the interaction between human and non-human forms, and between concept and prototype design. 3D rendering may have once seemed exotic to the industry, but the pressures and demands of 2020-21 have accelerated its usefulness and demonstrated its viability and purpose.

By exploring the potential for 3D software to create compelling fashion-related visual narratives I discovered that ideation, design, patternmaking and prototyping can be accurately recreated virtually. There is no waste involved in these phases of production, and due to the accuracy of the simulations, the waste involved in creating the final physical garments is reduced. These forms of digital outfits can be altered and made-to-measure digitally, and the rendered outcomes accurately convey the final appearance.

This form of prototyping actively rejects fast fashion, celebrating unique bespoke garment creation while creating more immersive content in the form of digital fashion shows that celebrate non-hierarchical modes of dissemination, given that digital spaces are freely accessible and not bound to physical location, material physical limitations, or venue capacity restrictions.

Design Impact

'Fluid' demonstrates and capitalises on the burgeoning relationship between digital and physical fashion. By going digital, collections and associated immersive fashion narratives can be consumed by a wider global audience. The role of the body in the traditional physical dissemination of fashion concepts can deconstructed digitally.

‘Fluid’ explores new forms and new identities; it is a deconstruction of standards of beauty, a deconstruction of the commodification of the body and of identity through an interconnected relationship with garments. Australia has already demonstrated its competitive international-standard digital prowess in film and animation.

My work expands upon this potential within the fashion industry. Physical accuracy in digital simulations allows for unique and expansive digital material and patternmaking experiments that would otherwise be unavailable to designers working solely with physical materials and limited budgets. The volume of waste made by physical experimentation and the necessary iterations that designers go through to achieve their final product is drastically reduced due to the process of digital patternmaking and prototyping.

'Fluid' demonstrates that garments can be prototyped digitally and made-to-order, minimising offcuts, drastically reducing waste, and challenging the dominating role of fast fashion on the local fashion industry.

Fashion Design 2021 Finalists

Tara Whalley

Tara Whalley


Claire Hausler of Merineo Pty Ltd / Knox Private Hospital staff / Mandi Buchanan - Maternity Ward Nurse Unit Manager



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