Black Hibiscus Design
Varia creates millinery work influenced by an exploration of gender and luxury in costume history.
Created in mixed media using materials ranging from reclaimed denim to hand painted silks, the cocktail hats and fascinators posses striking tactile as well as visual elements.
Working out of a home studio in Somerville, Massachusetts, Varia has created and shown annual collections in Somerville Open Studios since 2013. Varia has enjoyed a productive collaboration with local fashion photographer, Rowan McVey, producing many of the stunning images in this portfolio.
Varia’s work draws on an impressionistic sensibility in the manipulation of textiles, using fabrics treated with intuitive, gestural surface design to create precise, almost pedantic finished forms.
Varia’s roots are in Launceston, Tasmania. A small city on a remote island, Launceston prides itself on being a cultural center of excellence. Varia had an early interest in textiles and fashion, flourishing in printmaking classes and exploring self-expression through fashion. She learned fine hand-sewing from her grandmother. At age sixteen she started making cocktail hats for her own personal collection.
After attending university in Perth and spending a year in Sydney, Varia moved to the United States in 1999. In 2000 she settled in Somerville. Once settled, Varia found herself looking for her medium. She took evening classes in Chinese watercolor painting and silversmithing, and explored painting in acrylics. In the mid-2000s Varia taught herself to knit and crochet and began designing her own knit pieces. She was soon drawn back to the world of millinery, teaching herself the essential skills of shaping hats from sinamay and buckram. She has made a collection of art hats each year since 2013. Varia is a part-time student at the School of Fashion Design. In 2017 Varia took a workshop with artist Maor Zabar, learning his technique for sculpting silk, which she has incorporated into her later work.
"It was my taste, and my obligation to follow it."