Jenny Bannister (b.1954) is one of Australia's most significant dress and fashion designers. After completing a Diploma of Fashion Design and Production at Emily McPherson College, Melbourne in 1974 she went on to become one of Melbourne's leading avant-garde fashion designers and advocates. Her innovative and experimental dress designs featured prominently in exhibitions and events arising from the art clothes movement of the 1970s and 1980s.
This trend saw artists, designers, craftspeople as well as fashion designers exploring dress as a creative outlet, resulting in a blurring of the boundaries between art, craft and fashion. It encouraged designers to take a more independent approach to fashion design and to consider limited production ranges as a viable part of the Australian fashion industry.It also gave rise to a number of boutiques in Sydney and Melbourne specialising in independent art clothes designers. eg Flamingo Park and Clarence Chai.
Like many of its adherents Bannister was inspired in part by Punk style with its anarchic, anti-elitist, do-it-yourself attitude to style and materials. She melded this with a blend of mysticism, feminism and fantasy.
In Bannister's work traditional materials, construction methods and fashion trends were abandoned or reworked, new and unusual materials introduced, inspiration sought in popular culture and an element of shock added through her references to fetish and subcultural styles.
This outfit with its studded patchwork construction, crudely tied shoulder straps and references to medieval armour, mermaids and Amazons highlights Bannister's liberal aesthetic. Leather was also one of Bannister's favourite materials at the time. Attracted to it's antiquity, suppleness and sensuality, she explored these distinctive qualities in her work.
The wearer Kati Mindszenti was also involved in the design of the outfit and it reflects her personality as well as the concerns and creativity of the designer.The involvement of the wearer in the design reflects a very different attitude from high fashion where the designer dictates the style. Here the designer acknowledges the outfits intimate relationship to the wearer and the how their personality and 'performance' in the costume, inform its identity.