PROFESSIONAL models who paraded wool fashions on the catwalk at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days got to meet a sheep and touch greasy wool for the first time after last week's fashion show.
On learning most of the 10 models, including three young men, promoting Eco Fashion Week wool fashions at Dowerin had never actually been near a sheep, James McLagan, principal of Eungai and Jaloran Merino and Poll Merino studs, Miling, invited them back to the ram shed to meet his rams.
Mr McLagan, who had been co-opted into participating in the fashion parade along with a number of other farmers, attracted stares aplenty as he pied piper-like led a procession of models - still dressed in striking high fashion outfits and wearing needle-like stiletto heels or towering platform shoes - single file through the Dowerin crowds from the GWN7 pavilion to his stand in the back corner of the ram shed.
There he introduced the models to Merino ram M613070 who patiently accepted all the fuss.
Ram M613070 even showed the models a thing or two about striking a pose, dutifully raised his head to stare imperiously over the barrier top rail when the camera flashes started.
Mr McLagan explained to the models how he raised his flocks, how the wool grew, what the wool specifications on display meant and invited them to run their forearm across his ram's back to prove greasy wool was not scratchy or itchy.
Once calm returned to the ram shed, Mr McLagan explained he had been asked by alpaca farmer and Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) founder Zuhal Kuvan-Mills to be part of the first fashion parade on the Wednesday morning and the impromptu introduction to wool on the sheep's back came about after a chance conversation with the models back stage.
"I got roped into the fashion parade because they wanted some farmers up there, so I just grabbed a few mates," Mr McLagan said.
"While we talking I discovered most of the girls had never actually seen a sheep up close, so I invited them to come back here."
Ms Kuvan-Mills, who is also a veterinarian, teacher and fashion designer for Green Embassy which produced some of the Merino wool fashions for the fashion parade, said she encouraged the models to go to the ram shed to learn more about where the fibre they were wearing came from.
She said the "sustainable fashions" on show were hand-made, featuring new and recycled wool as one of the world's most sustainable fibres and other recycled elements such as embroidery and plastics.
All were designed by emerging Australian eco designers, including Green Embassy, Fabric of Nature, Skylark, Claudi Jvr, Gemini Kite, Regina Bochat and design students at Curtin and Edith Cowan universities and Carine Senior High School.
"They used Merino wool, some of it from op shop clothes and old blankets, some new wool fabric and other recycled elements to create new fashions which have a focus on sustainability," Ms Kuvan-Mills said.
"We wanted to finish the show with real farmers on the runway - because they are producing the wool - and the designers who collaborated together who creating with the wool - without the farmers there would be no wool to create with so we wanted to highlight that connection," she said.
Eco Fashion Week Australia was launched in Perth in 2017 by Ms Kuvan-Mills with the aim of encouraging established and emerging young designers and educating consumers to consider sustainability and recycling of raw materials.
It has since also become established in Queensland.