High fashion came to Berremangra recently with working farm 'Westbourne', owned by Richard and Stephanie Hyles, chosen by a New York-based bridal gown designer as a backdrop for her latest shoot.
Emma Yates, who grew up in Sydney before setting her sights on the Big Apple, has been working with the Hyles' for the past few years to create a transparent system of sourcing the best quality wool fibres for her work.
In doing this, she aims to showcase Australian wool in a positive light and bring Australian farmers and farming into the spotlight in New York City.
"Almost everything from the collection comes from the land (silk threads, wool, kangaroo leather, cow leather, sheep fur, locally sourced feathers) to create a product that is traceable from the land, to the fibre, and beyond the garments life because of biodegradable attributes of the materials," Ms Yates said.
Ms Yates moved to New York about five years ago to follow her dream of attending Parsons, The New School for Design.
The Westbourne shoot was her thesis graduating collection.
While she may call New York home these days, and Sydney's Eastern Suburbs before that, Ms Yates has a strong connection to the Australian country way of life.
"I grew up always in the country, always at my godparents Jo-Anne and David Strong's property at 'Tiana Park' in Jugiong, working with the cows, welding, assisting with AI, all of it," Ms Yates said.
She chose Westbourne for her shoot as it was important to her to bring the garments back to where a lot of the fibres originally came from.
"We shot throughout the property, but worked out of the shearers huts and the shearing shed to again emphasize and reiterate the authenticity of the story behind these fibres and really highlight the process with Richard and Stephanie," Ms Yates said.
The youngest Hyles children Monty and Maurie as well as Richard's parents Peter and Margaret enjoyed front row seats as Westbourne was transformed for the shoot.
Ms Yates often visits the Riverina sourcing material and making an effort to emphasize not only Australian farming, but the circular nature of the lifecycle of these garments.
"When I started working with Richard and Stephanie, it had never occurred to me that since wool is sold greasy, farmers never see the final product, and so I wanted to change that narrative, and bringing the garments back to their home and their natural environment allowed me to share the final outcome with everyone who had made it possible and honor the relationships that built the garments," she said.