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Curtin grad smashing fashion norms on the global stage

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Designer and Curtin graduate Rimsha Shakir was the only Australian finalist in the prestigious Arts of Fashion Foundation event held in December 2019 in San Francisco.


Model on catwalk

Her confrontational entry took aim at societal expectations of women.

“The concept in my work of distortion and disguise come from my master degree in Applied Design and Art*,” she says. “Society has a particular perception of women and beauty, wanting women to be a size eight or smaller, and have a certain height, eye and hair colour.”

“In my line, I created deliberately imperfect clothes with stuffed padding to disguise and distort the shape of the body that people expect us to have. I wanted to throw the idea in people’s faces that we are bound by societal expectations, but perfect the way we are.”

Model on catwalk

Shakir says she used ‘pretty flowers’ in her collection to represent the particular notion of beauty society wants and expects.

“But I contrasted that ‘prettiness’ with words in print like ‘fake’, ‘too perfect’ and ‘fat’,” she explains. “They are words we hear over and over from society, family, the media and advertising.”

As a finalist, Shakir exhibited her entry at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

“The theme for the show was verticality,” she says. “Verticality, to me, means growth, but there hasn’t been much growth when it comes to society’s expectations of women and how we want them to look.”

Shakir hopes her eye-opening collection will inspire conversation and change.

Model on catwalk

“It was an incredible experience to showcase my work in San Francisco,” she smiles. “It was amazing to meet people from all over the world and have them see and judge your work.”

The Curtin graduate says she received boundless support from her teachers.

“I loved my time at Curtin,” she says. “I had amazing teachers who cared about my opinion and gave me tremendous guidance.”

“I was given the freedom to pursue my passion and invest my personality in my work. That’s what art really is to me – freedom.”

Shakir is now working for fashion brand Zhivago and hopes to launch a new collection in the future.


*If you are interested in postgraduate design, we encourage you to consider the new Master of Design program, as the Master of Applied Art and Design is no longer available.

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