Farming faces behind Natural Fibres

Queensland wool and cotton farmers feature in Ekka fashion parade documentary

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Kim, Andrew and Alastair Costello with Palatine Productions producer Sharen Kenny and the Gradenfloe shearing crew, Michael O'Leary, Malcolm Marshall and Ian Cullen.

Kim, Andrew and Alastair Costello with Palatine Productions producer Sharen Kenny and the Gradenfloe shearing crew, Michael O'Leary, Malcolm Marshall and Ian Cullen.

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Two of Queensland’s homegrown wool and cotton producers will be highlighting the link between farmers and fashions at the Natural Fibres parades at this year’s Ekka.

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Two of Queensland’s homegrown wool and cotton producers will be helping to highlight the link between farmers and fashions at the Natural Fibres parades at this year’s Ekka.

The Costello and Simmich families feature in a micro documentary titled Back to Nature that will open each of the parades, beginning this Friday, and will be helping trace the natural fibres on show back to their Queensland roots.

Made by Brisbane’s Palatine Productions, best known for their documentary content for broadcasters like Discovery Channel International and Nine Entertainment Co, the three-and-a-half minute film draws together the many threads of fashion.

“Thanks to this little documentary, the people who grow the fibres, design the clothes and the models who showcase the fashion will all be in the same room at the same time to watch the film hit the big screens at Ekka 2017 this Friday,” producer Sharen Kenny said.

“We contacted cotton growers, the Simmich Family, through our co-sponsor Mack Trucks Australia, and we used our own extensive rural contacts to source wool growers, the Costello family.

“We were blessed to be able to work with such genuine and exceptional people as these two families. Their properties and farming practices were just perfect.” 

Following a brief provided by Laura Churchill, Ekka 2017 Natural Fibres fashion event director and stylist, the camera crew arrived in Dalby to meet Mick and Sam Simmich just as their cotton harvest was at its peak.

Palatine Productions director Ian Withnall with Mick and Sam Simmich during the filming process.

Palatine Productions director Ian Withnall with Mick and Sam Simmich during the filming process.

Palatine Productions used the latest drone technology and 4K cameras to capture the epic nature of the venture.

Mick Simmich said they saw it as a fantastic opportunity to showcase Simmich Farming and a family lifestyle to a wide audience.

“Maggie, aged eight, has told half of Dalby she will be featured in the video alongside her sister Harriet, 13, and older brother Thomas, 12 years.

“The kids can’t wait to come to Ekka for the first time ever on Friday.”

Making it even better, Simmich Farming has recently been nominated for Queensland Cotton Grower of the Year for 2017.  

While in Dalby, the production crew’s eyes were opened to an activity that is usually behind closed doors, the cotton ginnery process.

Allyse McVeigh of Qld Cotton Corporation, part of the Olam Group, chaperoned the crew through the rows of rumbling machines at their Dalby Ginnery.

Allyse’s hands feature in the film, peeling the freshly refined cotton boll open to reveal the fibres within.

A few days later the cameras turned to Gradenfloe at Thane, near Warwick, where the Costello family’s flock of Merino sheep was being mustered for shearing.

Director Ian Withnall capturing all the action from shearers Ian Cullen and Michael O'Leary at Gradenfloe, Thanes Creek.

Director Ian Withnall capturing all the action from shearers Ian Cullen and Michael O'Leary at Gradenfloe, Thanes Creek.

The Costellos are fifth generation wool growers, a family connection stretching back to the 1880s, and Andrew and Kim Costello and their son Alastair allowed the cameras into their paddocks and picturesque wool shed to capture some beautiful scenes.   

Kim said they’d been excited to be able to play a part in the promotion of natural fibres and wool in particular.

“For a day and a half our shearing shed became a film studio, which turned out to be a very enjoyable experience and a lot of fun,” she said. “We are looking forward to seeing the finished product on the big screen at the Ekka.”

According to the film’s director, Ian Withnall rural Queensland is a beautiful canvas to work with.

“You don’t need to go too far to find images that are both epic and intimate.”

Brisbane fashion designer, Pia du Pradal, one of 27 designers included in the parades, was happy to take part in the film, thanks to a passion for working with cotton and maintaining a strong connection with her rural suppliers.

“I love all natural fibres but my favourite fabric is without doubt cotton. I love its versatility and I’m proud that in Australia we produce probably the world’s best quality fibre.”

Mark Ferguson on the other hand was proud to take part in a film that featured the people who produce his woollen source product.

He’s the director of Wil Valour Bespoke Menswear, another of the designers in the parades and an enthusiastic participant in the micro documentary.

The label features predominantly Australian wool and Mark complimented Sharen and Ian on their creative understanding.

The Back to Nature micro documentary will introduce each fashion parade throughout Ekka 2017, but this Friday’s 2.30pm showing will feature all the participants, gathered to watch the film and see the fashions featuring their fibres.

The Ekka 2017 Natural Fibres Fashion Parades will be held daily at 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm during Ekka from August 11-20 and will be viewed by over 80,000 people.

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