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Sara’s passion for fashion on show

Sara Carney Desert Lily Vintage Brisbane Fashion Festival
After leaving the air force Sara Carney turned to designing and creating clothing from recycled fabric, and she is excited to have her pieces shown at this year's Brisbane Fashion Festival.

Bundaberg-based fashion designer, and former RAAF member, Sara Carney will showcase her ethical clothing, Desert Lily Vintage, at this year’s Brisbane Fashion Festival.

After 14 years of military service, Sara started a family and then began sewing to remedy both her physical and mental health, which led her to create Desert Lily Vintage.

Sara’s collection has an emphasis on vintage florals with 10 different styles made from quality fabric she has collected in the Bundaberg Region and then recycled to reduce waste.

Desert Lily Vintage’s sustainable and ethical approach to fashion has garnered attention and recognition, including invitations to exhibit the collection at Queensland's premier fashion event the 2023 Brisbane Fashion Show.

“I will be showcasing 10 different looks for the show, made up of dresses and two-piece sets that can be interchangeable from day to night,” Sara said.

“Desert Lily Vintage’s collection features high-quality, timeless garments made from recycled fabrics, including a mix of 100 per cent linen, vintage bed linen, and recycled vintage fabrics, with limited fabrics and styles per collection.

Sara Carney Desert Lily Vintage Brisbane Fashion Festival
The Desert Lily Vintage’s collection features high-quality, timeless garments made from recycled fabrics, which will be on show at this year's Brisbane Fashion Festival.

“(This) will be my first time showing my designs at such a prestigious event and I am honoured to be showcasing as an emerging designer.

“I feel very nervous and excited but trying to just focus on one day at a time, otherwise it becomes very overwhelming.”

Sara’s connection to the Bundaberg community, the demand for quality, and her social and environmentally sustainable principles are the driving force behind the brand, with each outfit coming to life in her home studio at Innes Park.

“It’s very intimate, and minimising the possibility of waste and oversupply, while ensuring the customer gets the perfect fit,” she said.

“The garments are designed to last, becoming beloved staples for seasons to come.”

From air force to fashion fiesta

Serving in the military Sara has seen first-hand the impact of clothing waste overseas and through Desert Lily Vintage she focuses on creating a more ethical way of producing and consuming fashion.

Sara Carney Desert Lily Vintage Brisbane Fashion Festival
After 14 years of military service, Sara Carney started a family and then began sewing to remedy both her physical and mental health, which led her to create Desert Lily Vintage.

“After having children and leaving the air force I was really struggling with my physical and mental health so as a 30th birthday present my husband bought me a sewing machine to help give me a creative outlet whilst I was in the trenches of raising two baby boys,” Sara said.

“A couple of years later, and with the assistance of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), I was able to complete further studies in both business and fashion design, this took my passion for sewing and fashion to the next level.”

Through Desert Lily Vintage, Sara aims to educate and inspire others to take a more sustainable and ethical approach to fashion, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable and ethical future for the industry.

“I joined the RAAF as a 17-year-old that was looking for a little adventure and as a way to leave my hometown of Mandurah, Western Australia,” she said.

“Over a 14-year career as a medical assistant reaching the rank of corporal, I have participated in aeromedical evacuations nationally and internationally, military exercises within Australia and overseas with postings to Sydney, Newcastle and Perth.

Sara Carney Desert Lily Vintage Brisbane Fashion Festival
Sara Carney began sewing to remedy both her physical and mental health, which led her to create Desert Lily Vintage.

“I served on operations in Afghanistan in 2008 attached to the NATO hospital intensive care unit with the Australian Specialist Medical team, and in 2012 I served in the Middle East Area of Operations as the senior medical assistant within the airbase medical practice.

“I think it’s important to be aware of not only how and where our clothing is being made, but also how you can reduce your environmental footprint by purchasing garments that are made from natural fibres or reusing materials that would otherwise end up in landfill.”

Brisbane Fashion Festival is held between 21-25 August.

To find out more about Desert Lily Vintage click here.

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