Nina Ollenburg’s graduate collection, ‘Damaged Goods, is a direct representation of the designer’s personal journey into fashion, where even if you break down or fall to pieces, you can still stitch yourself back up and move forward. This theme of growth is behind the almost stereotypical motif of the floral fabric print, but to make it her own, Nina drew flowers both in her own style, manipulating it to look almost humane. These quirky elements is what makes this Brisbane-based designer stand out, as such fearless aesthetics helps bring confidence to others and draw attention the the garments and their details. Included in the collection is the hand-stitched embroidery, to further emphasise the concept of repair, and even if one is repaired, it can still be beautiful and full of character.

“Nina, you dress like a party cupcake, draw inspiration from that.” is what Nina’s teacher said to her at the beginning of 2020, and from that came a burst of colour and glitter throughout the portfolio, making what seemed a sad topic become one of hope. Using collage and hands-on development, Nina went with what her body told her to do, beginning with the draping of the most dramatic sleeves possible. What ties the whole collection together is the emphasis on the colourful print, using colours of complimenting yellow and purple, and also making use of Nina’s strong point of artistic drawing. Nina had to learn how to develop and edit her own print in less than a few days, mixing and re-arranging in Photoshop until it became as rich as she would like it to be. With Stage 4 lockdowns happening in Australia at the time from COVID-19, it also meant she had only half the time to sew and finish the collection due to delays.
Originally to be printed on cotton, a decision was made to print on polyester-based satin as it brought out the details of the print out the best. Although, the designer originally wanted no polyester, it was decided that as this collection is not mass produced or machine washable, the fabric could be negotiated. However, the lace was specifically sourced to be 100% cotton to minimise the polyester in the garments as much as possible, and all embroidery was hand stitched onto the lace with embedded Swarovski crystals.

The final line-up and subsequent collection proved to have a variety of silhouettes and garments, all constructed despite the hardships of the pandemic. Nina’s does not wish to limit her customers in styling, but would recommend the craziest accessories they can find. Nina would have loved to do more looks for the collection and challenge herself further, but had to emphasise quality over quantity during the hardships of 2020. Nevertheless, as a designer who started the degree with absolutely zero knowledge in the process of fashion design and the technical process it entails, Nina is proud to have achieved a four look collection that does not compromise in any way of showcasing her determination and quirkiness.