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Donna Sgro


Donna Sgro is a designer, and practice-led researcher. With a background in fashion and textiles design, together with art theory and philosophy, her research investigates sites of overlap between these disciplines, with a focus on creativity research.

Using practice-led research methods, her work explores transformations of the fashioned garment from within a material practice. In the area of fashion practice, Donna is currently undertaking a doctorate at RMIT University, which specifically investigates how an ambiguous, interdisciplinary concept such as metamorphosis, can be used to model creative practice.

Donna has a professional fashion and textile practice alongside her research and teaching. Projects can be viewed online at www.donnasgro.com. Donna has recently discussed her work at Shapeshifting: A Conference on the Transformative Paradigms in Fashion and Textile Design.

Donna forms one half of the collaborative research practice, Make.Shift Concepts, with Armando Chant. Recent projects have included exhibitions at the Melbourne Fashion Festival, and discussion article for the Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice.

Donna’s fashion and textile works have been included in both national and international exhibitions and collections shows, including in Tokyo, London, Paris and the USA. Work has been acquired for collections including the Science Museum London, Biomimicry Europa, and Tamworth Regional Gallery.

Image of Donna Sgro
Lecturer, School of Design
B.Arts (USYD), B.Design (UTS)
+61 2 9514 8931

Research Interests

Practice-led research, textiles practice, fashion practice, creative research, creativity, creative pattern cutting, artistic practice, making, craft research, ecological thinking, metamorphosis, evolution

Donna is the 1st Year Coordinator of the Fashion & Textiles Program. She teaches Studio: Foundations in Patternmaking and Construction 1 and 2, Professional Practice for 3rd and Honours year students, as well as supervise Honours Major Project students.


Sgro, D.M. 2016, 'Making the creation of fashion visible', CUMULUS Hong Kong 2016: Open Design for E-very-thing, Hong Kong Design Institute and Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, Hong Kong Design Institute, pp. 600-604.
This research paper investigates garment-making processes, which are ordinarily tacit, from the perspective of the fashion designer-maker. The paper draws on a PhD project entitled Metamorphic Fashion: A Transformative Practice, which is nearing completion at RMIT University. Critical consideration of the status of the made garment in fashion design reveals the elision of the fashion-making process by the represented garment and its semiotics. Whilst material thinking is at a developed stage in the related disciplines of design, art and craft, fashion design is largely disassociated from material transformation. Fashion-making processes lack visibility, and a revaluation only seems possible if such methods gain transparency and if their proximity to handcraftedness, which in the past was more widely acknowledged, is reaffirmed. If a fashion designer is also a maker, the garmentmaking process can be a creative and empowering means of coaxing the unknown into existence. Therefore, a critical reappraisal of the process of fashion making is timely. Reflection on the fashion-making process reveals discontinuity, chance encounters, discovery, the fragmentary and the partially formed. The process involves negotiating ambiguity, which must be embraced by the designer to be transformed into certainty. When valued as generative, newly fashioned outcomes can emerge. In this research, methods are developed to articulate fashion design making as transformative, using a creative-practice methodology. The subjective positioning of the researcher's experience and tacit knowledge is acknowledged and explored. An intimate perspective on the engagement between self and material is provided using video recordings, conveying the complex interrelationship of concept and material during fashion making.
Sgro, D.M. 2016, 'Fashioning Dynamic Form: Experimental making to evolve design practice', The Second International Conference for Creative Pattern Cutting, University of Huddersfield, University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom.
This paper introduces a fashion design approach initiated in the authors current practice-led doctoral research. The research explores the concept of metamorphosis to transform the design process. This has involved exploring the idea of dynamic form as a method of fashioning garments. This approach questions the separation of form and material encountered when design, pattern cutting and making are considered independently. Exploring dynamic form is a risky activity that implicates taking time, slowing processes of making by integrating critical thinking and reflection; slowed fashion. It involves exploring opportunities for change by responding to material and visual properties, with a mix of intention and curiosity, the outcomes of which are improvisational. What these explorations might lead to one cannot exactly predict, however, this type of experimentation as a process can benefit from documentation and dissemination, to understand the ways in which research led by making for fashion design is possible.
Sgro, D.M. 2015, 'Fashioning Evolution: Making fashion practitioner research by analogy', Making Research | Researching Making, ADAPT-r - Architecture, Design and Art Practice Training-research, Aarhus, Denmark, pp. 178-185.
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In my research, metamorphosis is used as a conceptual analogy to explore how change occurs in the process of making fashion garments. This research forms part of my PhD by project, Metamorphoric Fashion: A Transformative Practice, undertaken at RMIT University. Metamorphosis is understood as a process of change through which something undergoes a complete trans-form-ation. Change is acknowledged to be a defining characteristic of fashion, yet is rarely theorized from the perspective of the practitioner engaged with processes of materialization. Within the context of fashion and design studies, fashion practitioner research is under-represented, and the understanding of what fashion practitioner knowledge is, lacks solidarity. For emerging fashion practitioner researchers this is complex, however, represents unique opportunities for individual contributions to be made to the development of creative research practice within the discipline and more broadly; to consider what is shared and what is different within creative practice research. To make research through fashion practice, I have used metamorphosis as an analogic structure as a strategy to develop criticality; in order to be able to develop reflection, identification and articulation of the experience of making fashion. In this paper I propose the concept of fashioning evolution to describe how change is experienced as an ongoing generative condition within fashion making practices, which are actively shaped in the process of making garments.
Sgro, D.M. 2014, 'Metamorphoric fashion: a transformative practice', Shapeshifting: A Conference on Transformative Paradigms of Fashion and Textile Design, Textile and Design Lab and Colab at Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 1-22.
Transformation is embedded in the growth of an organism, while fashion, highly responsive to changing social and physical environments, rides the current of flux like a dreamer wandering through darkness. Through my fashion practice, attempts are made to reflect upon, expand and make possible inroads into the translation of this creative movement, from inspiration to mixed garment and textile outcomes. This involves engaging the imagination of possible futures, new approaches, and unknown outcomes, through mixed material expressions. Translating the life cycle of an organism, which is highly adaptive, evolutionary and responsive, this work forms part of my PhD study, 'Metamorphoric Fashion, being undertaken at RMIT University, Melbourne. Using a practice-led research methodology, which draws upon mixed creative methods, my research attempts to engage with the uncovering of imaginative potentials of fashion and textile processes. The concept of transformation leads this investigation, and initially a study of butterfly metamorphosis was undertaken. This involved 'fashion-designer-becoming-lepidopterist, and engaged a movement between the ordinarily disparate worlds of ecology and creative practice. Using mediums of photography and drawing, a series of transitions were recorded in which the organism underwent both transitional and metamorphic change. Through these methods, meditations on relationships between nature-culture become possible, as thinking about ecology enters the creative process. Through drawing, a series of stylizations developed which recorded the imaginative thinking time, line by line. My particular fashion practice is in the process of transformation and diversification, reflecting the nature of the metamorphic phenomenon, and the particular interpretations of the butterfly study that an individual approach enables. Aiming to uncover the ways in which the practice is able to accommodate these transformations, forms part of this study. Why th...
Sgro, D.M. 2012, 'Biomimicry and Fashion Practice', Fashionably Early Designing Australian Fashion Futures, Fashionably Early: Designing Australian Fashion Futures, The Australian Fashion Research Network, National Library Australia, pp. 61-70.
The local practice of fashion is being critically challenged by an increasingly networked global fashion system, which produces endless variations of the same. Counter this global trend is an emerging range of fashion practices, which focus on differentiation, challenging modes of assimilation. Particularly, these practices question the notion of time, where slow models are mapped out, and design processes become transparent, engaging their intended wearers with unique stories of design exploration. My research endeavours to advance how an understanding of biomimicry might enable new modes of fashion practice, and engage ecological thinking to produce endlessly differentiating forms. Invariably this research asks how an interdisciplinary understanding of fashion practice may underpin innovation in the field.

Journal articles

Sgro, D.M., Chant, A. & Solente, O.G. 2013, 'A Conversation about Collaborative Practice by MAKE.SHIFT Concepts', Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 93-108.
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ABSTRACT. MAKE.SHIFT Concepts is a Sydney-based collaborative research practice combining textile practitioner Armando Chant, fashion practitioner Donna Sgro, and design architect Olivier Solente. Through the practice, the designers explore transdisciplinary crossings between fashion, textiles, art, and architecture. Each designer brings a particular expertise to the practice, which when combined is expanded into something new. MAKE.SHIFT Concepts have produced two bodies of work for exhibition, CONSTRUCTIONS and TRANSITIONS. The designer interview is conducted in the form of a conversation between the three individuals, who discuss and evaluate the complex interactions that occur in the process of producing creative work between disciplines, and the establishment of a working practice focused on process. The research practice asks the following questions: How can transdisciplinary practitioners develop a collaborative practice that explores potentialities, and what types of outcomes may result? How may these outcomes expand the disciplinary practices out of which they arise? CONSTRUCTIONS was the first exhibition of collaborative work from MAKE.SHIFT Concepts. This exhibition was installed at the Damien Minton Annex Space, in Redfern, October 29 November 4, 2012. This exhibition included a series of works including hanging fabric, garments, and sculptures, together with projected image. TRANSITIONS was the second exhibition of collaborative work from MAKE.SHIFT Concepts. This exhibition was installed at No Vacancy Gallery in Melbourne, March 26-31, as part of the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program. This exhibition included a series of outcomes, including hanging garments, wood and metal sculptures, and a fashion film.

Non traditional outputs

Sgro, D.M., 'Octopus's Garden', The 1st SHINMAI Creator's Project Show, Japan Fashion Week Organization, Tokyo Midtown, Tokyo, Japan.
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The collection of garments, titled 'Octopus's Garden, was developed for exhibition as part of the 1st SHINMAI Creator's Project Show, sponsored by the Japan Fashion Week Organization as part of the 8th Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo. I was selected as one of five winners from 60 applications and 17 countries, to receive sponsorship. The collection was presented in 2 catwalk shows on 23rd March 2009, as part of the official schedule. At each show 500 guests from the fashion industry, media, and the public were present. The collection received significant press coverage in Japan, together with articles from other parts of the world. Selections from the collection were later exhibited in Sydney and Paris. Investigating a biomimetic approach, the collection was based on a study of the properties of deep sea creatures, along with research into the potential for using technologically advanced Japanese fabrics in order to create high quality garments that encapsulated slow fashion properties. Part of the collection included the use of Morphotex, the worldâs first structurally coloured fiber created by nanotechnology using a biomimetic approach, developed by Teijin Fiber Japan. Other fibres used included the eco-fibre, Tencel. The prints developed were also environmentally friendly. The collection investigated a slow fashion approach via the method of combining new developments in Japanese materials together with high quality manufacturing techniques. The slow fashion approach is part of an emergent fashion design practice which embraces sustainable business principles, and emphasizes quality and longevity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JabNp6zjTpc http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/shinmai-creators-project-rtw-fall-2009-2080755
Sgro, D.M., 'Morphotex Dress', Trash Fashion: designing out waste, Science Museum, London, Science Museum, London.
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The Morphotex Dress is one of 3 garments I have created using Morphotex fabric. Morphotex is a world first in structurally coloured fiber technology, developed by Teijin Fiber Japan, a company I worked with during my participation in the 1st SHINMAI Creator's Project in Japan, 2009. The Morphotex dress was selected for inclusion in an international exhibition 'Trash Fashion: designing out waste', a curated selection of international fashion designers, at the Antenna Gallery within the Science Museum London. The gallery selects the latest science news from leading scientists, engineers, designers and thinkers to showcase to the general public. Using a fabric such as Morphotex demonstrates that unconventional approaches to fashion design production can enable sustainable solutions. The colouration of the Morphotex fabric is created by structural colour, rather than pigmentation, eliminating the highly toxic process of industrial fabric dying. By working with a fabric such as Morphotex, my garments demonstrate the possibilities for engaging technological solutions to the problem of textile waste, encourage dialogue around the issue of sustainable fashion, and link biomimicry, an emergent practice within the field of sustainability, to fashion design. The Morphotex Dress has been recognized as an exemplary example of sustainable fashion, as evidenced by its inclusion in the 'Trash Fashion' exhibition, also demonstrating the interdisciplinary value of my work. The interest generated by this exhibition has extended its duration from June 2010 until September 2011. The Morphotex Dress has also been exhibited at 'FashionWare' SXSW in Austin, Texas, March 18-19, 2011
Sgro, D.M., Chant, A. & Solente, O.G., 'CONSTRUCTIONS', CONSTRUCTIONS, Damien Minton Annex Space, Damien Minton Annex Space, Redfern.
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Chant, A. & Sgro, D.M., 'Dislocations', Interwoven, Design Institute of Australia, DIA Design Gallery.
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`Dislocations' is a series of three textile works, created by Armando Chant in collaboration with Donna Sgro. The works were presented as part of Interwoven which is a curated selection of fashion and textile works of the Design Institute of Australia Textile Practice Group. `Dislocations' investigates the biological phenomena of patterning that is evident in butterfly wing growth, and the resulting structural distortion in the pattern that develops. The textile works were an investigation of this structural principle through their constructed methodology. The three works were hand-screenprinted in monochromatic half-tones, sliced and re-constructed through stitching, emphasizing the disruptive nature of the pattern. The works are an investigation into the creation of `constructed disruptive imagery' using a biomimetic methodology. Disruptive imagery has been developed in relation to textiles in the area of camouflage. Camouflage is a biomimetic adaptation where pattern is used to cloak what is seen. Using a different principle of disruptive imagery, this work investigates how other biomimetic adaptations may be used to disrupt the visual within a textiles context. Interwoven was exhibited at the Design Gallery of the DIA Head Office and promoted to members of the DIA nationally as part of LOOK.STOP.SHOP, a Melbourne Spring Fashion Week event.
Sgro, D.M. & Chant, A., 'Phenotype I, Phenotype II', Language of Life: Biomimicry in Architecture, Art, Design & Science, Verge Gallery, University of Sydney.
Phenotype I and Phenotype II are speculative fashion and textile works, created by Donna Sgro and Armando Chant, in collaboration. The works were part of the interdisciplinary exhibition, Language of Life, focused on biomimicry. The works investigate the biomimetic principle of Phenotypic Plasticity. Within fashion practice, garments are usually created and presented in reference to the body. These works are created in reference to a biological principle, altering the usual relationship of the garment to the body, and the function of the garment. The works include garment, textile print and video projection. Biomimicry is an emerging discipline, which seeks to imitate solutions found in nature, to solve human design problems. Biomimetic methodologies exist in various design, architectural and textile practices. There is potential to develop biomimicry methodologies in relation to fashion practice. Fashion practice typically engages with the emotive, visual, tactile and experiential dimensions of human relationships and through this work we ask how these relationships may influence biomimetic methodologies. Phenotype I and Phenotype II explore this methodological question and what contribution fashion practice can make to the emerging discipline of biomimicry. Phenotype I and Phenotype II were included in an interdisciplinary collection of responses to the emerging discipline of biomimicry. This exhibition enabled dialogue between participants from the practices of architecture, medicine, design (including fashion & textiles), science, biology and the creative arts. The exhibition was curated by Dagmar Reinhardt and Greg Shapley, and work was selected based on its ability to contribute to an interdisciplinary dialogue around the subject, and advance the understanding of what a biomimetic approach may be. The exhibition was in part a response to research arising out of the Master of Architecture, Graduation Studio from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Pla...
Chant, A., Sgro, D.M. & Solente, O.G., 'TRANSITIONS', TRANSITIONS, L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, No Vacancy Gallery.
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Sgro, D.M., Chant, A. & Solente, O., 'ARCHITECTONIC', ARCHITECTONIC, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, No Vacancy, Melbourne.
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Chant, A. & Sgro, D.M., 'Cloud-Scape', 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennale, Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth Regional Gallery.
Sgro, D.M., 'MorphoPop Dress', Biomimicry Exhibition, National Taiwan Science Education Center.