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The art and engineering of fashion

Former Maclean High School student Taran Battye was born to be a fashion designer … now the 20-year-old’s designs have been chosen to feature at the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week in September. He also features in the July edition of American fashion magazine, Sheeba, where his quote – “My design philosophy revolves around the idea of designing fashion as fashion, rather than designing fashion as menswear and womenswear.” – provides a snippet of attitude to lead the reader into the feature interview. “Instead of just making something aesthetically pleasing, design is like the aesthetics of art and the functionality of engineering,” he tells the Independent, “to make something that is nice to look at and actually works with its purpose.” When and where was Taran’s passion aroused? “It came about when I was in primary school [as a seven-year-old] when I saw the dance eisteddfod dancers in their costumes,” he says. “So I decided to make my own version, but I couldn’t wear it in the eisteddfod, being a boy … and I wanted to have the girl’s costume. “I went home and found an old sheet and ripped it up and put together this costume, using, like, builder’s string … or something I found in Dad’s garage. “My parents were so impressed that they let me move on from that and use actual fabrics. “I ended up using Mum’s sewing machine more than she did.” Taran’s father Damian says: “He’s pretty much been making his own clothes since then; dressing up from day dot and walking around in his own fashions. “He’s very passionate about it and doesn’t mind what people think; he is following his own path.” Taran’s fashions caught the eye of photographer Cameron Maynard, who recommended Taran to Sheeba magazine. “The magazine was looking for a designer to interview,” says Taran, “and Cameron recommended me, showing them my Instagram, etcetera, and it went from there. “It’s really exciting that these opportunities have popped up all at once. “The magazine fits right in with what I am trying to do.” And there are inspirations, too. “I definitely love art deco as an art movement; I also love designers who revolve around the principles of art deco, like Gianni Versace and other European designers. “And I love how people like Lady Gaga and Madonna bring forth something that is often not well received – I really admire their questioning of the norms and stereotypes running through society.” Taran’s designs will appear on the runway at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week on September 7 with four or five other designers from his school, Whitehouse Institute of Design, where he is about to complete a bachelor degree. The emerging designers section of fashion week also includes RMIT students, whose designs will walk the runway on September 6. Follow Taran on Instagram: @taranbattye