next big things: helen pappas


As some of you may know, I opted to finish my fashion design degree after three years, rather than going on to do fourth year honours like many of my chums.  One of the biggest projects in fourth year is creating a self-directed collection, the best of which are shown on the runway or in an exhibition at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.  I popped in to visit the eponymous 'Level 10' crew recently and was blown away by the work that is being created there.

As an introduction to some of the designers you will see at the RMIT Student Runways & Exhibition I'll be presenting a series of interviews, welcoming you to the world of the fashion student.


Helen is, quite frankly, the sweetest person you'll ever meet.  It's easy to imagine her designing whimsical poufs with delicate pastel embellishment, but don't let the sunny disposition fool you.  This girl does menswear, and she does it really bloody well.  Quirky yet wearable, intelligent yet lighthearted, it combines traditional tailoring methods with contemporary cuts and fabrications.

Helen portrait
Photo courtesy Helen Pappas

Runway Show 1/2/Exhibition: Runway 1 @ 6:30pm

Title of Collection (if applicable): "Dress in the Afternoon" which in a way is a collage of words and a play on Ernest Hemingway's novel  "Death in the Afternoon".

Menswear/Womenswear/Mixed: Menswear collection.

What are some of the inspirations behind this collection? I've been looking into Collage, and how as a practice and concept it influences designing. I've come to realize that the layers we dress in are much like the making collages for the body. I've also been using collage to mix my ideas together, and have chosen to blend masculinities, such as the Matador, the metaphor of the bull, the classic suit and decoration.


helen print 1
Photos courtesy Helen Pappas

What features & techniques should we be looking out for?  Have you tried anything new? Yes! I have actually ventured into developing my own textile and my own print! which is very exciting. Through developing my collages I was inspired to create a digital print. I'm very excited by it, because the colours and fabric look wonderful together because they both have a grainy and almost pixilated look. Last year I also developed my own technique of making fluffy fabric! So I'm loving the pom-pom textures now!!!

Favourite garment or look in the collection? The Digital print ensemble, its a little crazy-fun!  And there's everything in it, the print, fluff and colour!

How long did it take to make? Not including pattern making: about 3 days to sew up, now just for the finishing touches!!!

Is your style commercial, avant guard or somewhere in between? Hmmmm..... somewhere in between! Being witty, humorous, and intellectual about design is so important to me. And I think there is great validity in designing something that people lust after a little, and actually want to wear. To me this is good design. I also enjoy well crafted and made clothes, and in the end everything has a market! 

helen shoes

helen fabric 2

Fashion school is a hard slog, what good/bad/ugly moments will you never forget? haha! Oh! there are a few. But maybe the other week takes the cake. I had just had a horrible day were everything had gone wrong, pattern-making, projects, organizing events and friendships. And it all dramatically ended with me crying my eyes out at the bottom of the fire-escape stairs, during a real fire evacuation, looking like a bag lady with all my work and so many people around. But there is one good things about horrible days like this, .... the rest of the week is always so much better! ;D

Favourite designer, icon or person you want to be when you grow up? My favorite designers, Muiccia Prada, Dries van Noten, and Christobal Balenciaga, and i wouldn't mind being a little like when i grow up. ....but I'm looking forward to being me when i grow up too!

Where to after graduation? Relaxing and enjoying Melbourne life! ...maybe a Europe adventure too! and of course finding a job, which i'm very excited about.

Dream job? Ahh! so many! I'd love to be a designer at an fashion house like Prada (...or starting my own). But to go and review cafes, coffee and create designs, all while being super fabulous seems to be very enticing right now! ;D

helen print 3

helen print 2

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