interviews Monica Lim of Fame Agenda December 07 2013

Fame Agenda X Darbotz – Libby Hutton, Melbourne

Melbourne fashion label Fame Agenda has joined forces with Asia’s most prolific street artist, Darbotz. Creating an eclectic fashion collection as part of Mapping Melbourne, the Fame Agenda X Darbotz collaboration is an initiative which celebrates independent contemporary Asian art in Melbourne.

A fusion of fashion, art and music will unravel on the steps of one of Melbourne’s most cultural and iconic locations, the steps of the State Library of Victoria, on December 6th to celebrate the launch of the courageous collection.

The quirky and distinctive patterns and prints of Malaysian-born designer Monica Lim (Fame Agenda) are developed from photo images of Darbotz’s existing graffiti on Melbourne Walls. The two have been fused to celebrate the amalgamation of art and fashion.

Monica Lim draws inspiration from fashion being an accessible and wearable form of contemporary art. This week I got the opportunity to sit down with Monica to discuss her incredible journey, unlikely new collaboration and what Melbourne can expect on December 6th!

1. You’re a lawyer turned fashion designer, come founder/creator of Fame Agenda. Tell us about that journey

It’s been a journey of constant learning.

I was working when I became pregnant with my first child, Kaeden. I started making handbags as I had previously done some pattern-making and sewing courses. Eventually an agent picked the label up and we started getting wholesale accounts here and internationally.

I worked throughout this time I decided to give up the professional career and focus on business. From handbags, eventually the business moved into retail as well as wholesale and started to expand more into apparel.

2. How did you and Darbotz meet?

I met Darbotz in March this year when he was in Melbourne for his solo exhibition at MiFA gallery. Darbotz is rather shy when you first meet him. He doesn’t really want anyone to know who he is.

3. Tell us about the collaboration?

Fame Agenda’s point of difference is our fabric prints, which are quite distinctive. When we saw Darbotz’s graffiti work we thought that that would be a great opportunity to mix “street” with a more sophisticated type of fashion.

4. What are the main inspirations behind Darbotz’s works and Fame Agenda’s?

We took a number of elements of work that we felt represented the spirit of Dabortz’s work and incorporated that into our design for this collection.

One of them is the “cumi”, a sort of motif that recurs throughout Darbotz’s work. The cumi is a black and white squid-like monster covered with scales and huge, swirling tentacles, angry and confused about the chaos of Jakarta, perhaps about the chaos of the urbanised world in general. From the cumi, we worked with ideas like boned hems and sequinned scales. We also worked with layers of organza scale-shaped layers.

5. How did the design process work?

Darbotz initially emailed through to us various artwork. We chose the ones which we felt could be incorporated into fabric design and we came up with a number of textile prints for the collection.

We also took photos of some of the street art that he left behind in Melbourne during his last visit. We liked the texture of the graffiti against the walls, so we made a print using magnified images where you can see the texture and the diffusion of the spray paint.

Darbotz is pretty relaxed about our designs and leaves it up to us. I like to think he trusts us

6. What is the key to successfully mixing art and fashion?

I think being open to possibilities is always important. And also trusting that the end customer will “get it”.

It’s a particularly tough time in the world of fashion at the moment. It seems like more and more independent fashion labels are closing up shop in the face of the international fast-fashion labels.

For me there is no point in competing in the “fashion as commodity” space. We cannot beat the internationals in terms of speed, price and access to market. The only way for us is to appeal to the customer who wants to express herself a little bit differently.

7. We can’t wait for the show on December 6th, what can Melbourne expect?

Hopefullllyyyy, good weather!!! It is an outdoor public event, so fingers crossed.

There will be DJs and music, street dance performances by Jakarta’s breakdancing sensation Bboy Kreate. We will have some gorgeous models bursting out of Darbotz’s giant box and stomping down the Library stairs. Darbotz himself will be there so we can watch him in action.

8. Are you going to see any other events on at Mapping Melbourne Festival?

Absolutely, I will be there for the official opening at MiFA gallery with the Chen Ping exhibition.

I’m also really looking forward to the “Shadows on the Wall” performance on Saturday night at the Royal Exhibition Building. It combines Javanese dance, robotics and light/shadowplay. Hats off to Multicultural Arts Victoria for always bringing fresh, cutting-edge events to Melbourne.

Fame Agenda X Darbotz

Friday December 6th

12:30pm and 5:30pm

State Library of Victoria

The free event is part of Mapping Melbourne presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria, which brings together an explosive program of events across the CBD celebrating our unique Asian Australian identity and international creative connections. 5-8 December 2013.

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