Australian Bushfire by night



Amanda Kroker


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photographer - Matthew Kroker and Model - Sam Wigan

Outline the story …

When thinking about "The Natural World" the first thoughts that came to my mind were not about 'how do I make an outfit look like a beautiful animal or flower?' but more 'how do I represent the power of the natural world around me?' in the form of a garment.
To me, as an Australian living in the driest state of the continent, nothing speaks more to the power of the natural world than the ever-present threat of extreme and devastating bushfires and how much of an impact they have on the environment around where I live, on the people and animals I care about.
Over the Christmas and New Year transition from 2019 to 2020 we had the biggest bushfires in my living memory that not only burnt huge areas of land in my home state of South Australia but also affected both New South Wales and Western Australia. For a few weeks our whole continent was on fire or covered in smoke that blocked the sunlight.
My inspiration for my entry is from a photo taken by Melissa Ellery as she flew into Adelaide on one of the worst nights for a lot of towns. The dark blues and smoky purples punctuated by the hazy dots of glowing yellow and orange of the fire front speak to me and have inspired the silhouette, materials, colours, textures and story of my creation.
This gown is my representation of this particular night of bushfire and the spirits of the land.

Outline the construction…

Making this outfit pushed both my knowledge of sewing, costuming and my now bruised fingers into new areas. Finding fabrics I felt would suit the colour range & textures I wanted to portray or dying fabrics to make them fit better, learning how to adapt a corset pattern into a bodice that would suit my model’s shape and the techniques for smocking and hand folded roses all played their part in the creation of this gown.
One challenge I encountered was needing to completely redesign how best to represent a bushfire at night when I found my original idea (based on the gown worn by Christine Diae in the most recent film of Phantom of the Opera) would not easily form the layering to get the colouring and textures, necessitating a change from an elliptical hoop style skirt to a version of 1870s bustle style.

For this outfit I blended patterns from Truly Victorian and Redthreaded to create the form of the layered skirts and bodice with fabrics that match both the richness of the colour range of my inspiration picture as well as provide varying textures to represent the 3d nature of the landscape.

My layers of lace went through several dye vats of blues and purples to turn what was once white into the colours created by burning Eucalypts seen at night. I also used a juxtaposition of roses and butterflies in shades of yellow and orange edged in glow in the dark thread to represent the flames.




  1. Avatar Laura Pelofske on April 26, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    I love how you used fabric manipulation to perfectly capture the smoke and flames. The garment truly tells the story!

  2. Avatar Sarah Sarah Coombs on April 27, 2023 at 8:38 am

    That smocking is excellent!

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