Artist and Designer Rachel Burke in one of her tinsel creations holding a flower

Q&A with Artist and Designer Rachel Burke

If you’ve ever seen a dazzling tinsel jacket or stacked pom-pom headband, you’ve probably wondered “who makes these amazing pieces of wearable art?!” The super-creative lady behind these designs is Brisbane-based artist and designer, Rachel Burke.

From tinsel and tulle dresses to bedazzled sunglasses, Burke brings the fun back to fashion. So naturally when the Victoria Racing Club needed show-stopping outfits for stilt walkers in The Park, a playground of endless fun and frivolity during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, we turned to the queen of wearable art.

We chatted to Burke on her recent visit to Melbourne to fit The Park stilt walkers in her fabulous creations.

Artist and Designer Rachel Burke in one of her pom-pom headpieces

Q: When did you start creating with tinsel, pom-poms and other non-traditional garment materials?
A: I have been using craft based materials (like pom-poms, fake flowers, gems etc.) ever since I started making garments and accessories back in 2010. It was only more recently, in late 2015 that I started incorporating tinsel into my designs. 

Q: Your creations are so fun and unique. Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: All sorts of places like bargain stores, art galleries and gardens! I do a lot of research online and in print to find inspiration for silhouettes or colour palettes, but then really just leave it up to my imagination to come up with the rest!  

Q: They seem like really intricate pieces. How many hours does it take to make one of your amazing tinsel dresses?
A: A tinsel dress can take a full day or more to make!

Q: What has been the most exciting point of your career thus far?
A: I just love how almost everyday something new and unexpected comes along! It’s been incredible to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing clients, from Dannii Minogue to Kesha and to do things like write a book or give a Tedx talk. It’s really been a wild, crazy adventure!

Q: You’ve created pieces for some very famous personalities. Who have you loved seeing in your creations?
A: Patience Hodgson (lead singer of The Grates) will always be my number one as she was the first to really get behind my work and perform on stage in my costumes. From there it was obviously incredible to see Kesha wear my pieces, and more recently creating pieces for Justine Clarke to wear in her show at the Sydney Opera House was pretty wild!

Q: You’ve exhibited at ACMI, published a book…so, what’s next?
A: Coming up in November I’m doing my first pop-up shop in Brisbane and have some exciting things in store for the end of the year! I’ve also just finished working on some pieces for the Netflix show Dynasty...which is totally insane!

Q: What are you looking forward to experiencing at this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival?
A: Naturally, I can’t wait to see all the fashion!! I also can’t wait to see the stilt walkers bring my costumes to life!  

 Susie Bubble wearing one of Rachel Burke's custom tinsel dresses
Susie Lau of Susie Bubble wearing one of Burke's custom tinsel creations.

During the garment fitting, Rachel talked us through the inspiration for the bold and fun looks she’s created for the stilt walkers that will be roving The Park during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Watch the video here.

The Park is a playground of endless fun and frivolity, with performances by Australia’s hottest musicians, Melbourne’s trendiest eateries, stylish bars and an impressive two-story enclosure housing Myer Fashions on the Field. Located on the hill, adjacent to the train station, it’s exciting, unexpected, carefree, fashionable and a little bit fabulous. Best of all, entry to The Park is FREE for all Melbourne Cup Carnival ticket holders. Secure your raceday ticket now.