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From irrigating watermelons to the catwalk


From irrigating watermelons to the catwalk

Designer Alexander Lyon

TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio graduate Alexander Lyon has traded watermelons for the catwalk and opened up on the inspiration behind his Toulouse-Lautrec-inspired Fashion Week collection ‘Bourgeoisie’.

UK-born Mr Lyon was introduced to the Fashion Design Studio as an international student in Australia. It was his job immediately leading up to commencing the degree that astonished his teachers.

“It’s absolutely bonkers now that I look back, but my job leading up to starting the Bachelor of Fashion Design was up in the Northern Territory irrigating watermelons,” Mr Lyon said.

“I really enjoyed it, but it certainly reinforced where my passion lay when I returned to Sydney.”

For over 60 years, TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio has produced some of the biggest names in the Australian Fashion Industry. This year, Alexander Lyon is one of five top performing graduates from the Bachelor of Fashion Design 2020 who will launch their collections on the catwalk at The Innovators show as part of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. 

The graduate show, now in its 25th year, has earned a reputation for being one of the week’s “hottest shows,” and is an important launch pad for emerging Australian fashion designers both locally and internationally. 

This year’s collections hone in on the theme of No Boundaries, reflecting the limitless potential of creative expression, and reinforcing the importance of sustainability in fashion.

“I’ve had what you might call a shaky start. I knew that I was absolutely committed to my passion for fashion design, but alcohol and drug addiction were serious issues in my life when I started the degree,” Mr Lyon said.

“I’ve since left those demons behind but those experiences, however, continue to inform my work and the parallels between my life and that of the famed Parisian artist Toulouse-Lautrec made me even more drawn to his work as a source of inspiration.”

Mr Lyon’s ‘Bourgeoisie’ collection combines the vibrancy of the 1900s Parisienne club scene with the grungy world of addiction, giving a sense of hopeful optimism for the future.

“My design aesthetic favours quality, craftsmanship, structure, and tailoring which is reflected in this collection. I find that instead of taking my inspiration from the fashion world I look to architecture, history and art.” 

“Addiction features prominently in my collection and in the end, it was my pursuit of the degree that motivated me, drove me to continue to get out of bed in the morning during my darkest times.”

Forged in the fires of the 2020 pandemic, the graduate designers’ collections reflect the intensity of that time and their vision for the future of fashion post COVID-19.

“I think that through this experience of being at home and contained has put what is most important in life into focus for a lot of people,” Mr Lyon said.

“There is a sense now that people want to be able to express themselves completely with absolute freedom and that the way that people perceive you in fashion doesn’t really matter – it’s about how you feel and want to live your life.” 

As the only fashion school in Australia to present graduate collections at Fashion Week, TAFE NSW is proud to introduce the new generation of creative fashion designers to industry.

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 0402 528 210.