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Wool Charne' excites Australian fashion world

A little cream dress made from Riverina unmulesed Merino wool, and modelled on a design from the wardrobe of royalty, has captured the interest of the Australian fashion world.

The fabric, Wool Charne', was grown and developed by Albury wool growers Leon and Sandra Martin, to value add to their ethically produced Charmac Merino wool.

The Charmac is a South African Merino strain, originally derived from the Australian Wanganella Merino and with a naturally bare breech, requiring no mulesing. Australian Wool Fashion Awards managing director Liz Foster commissioned NSW dressmaker Julie Harris to make a cocktail dress from Wool Charne' and modelled on a design worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.

The dress, featuring a square neckline and layered skirt, was showcased to wool growers at a field day at Charmac Merinos on Friday.

Mrs Foster said feedback from leading Australian haute couture designers had been positive. She said the fabric had been described as “divine’’ by designers with the natural antique white shade fitting perfectly with 2013 autumn/winter collections.

Mrs Foster said the Wool Charne' weave, matt appearance and smoothness had also delighted the designers. She said designers indicated they would be prepared to pay top end wholesale prices for the Wool Charne'.

Wool growers Leon and Sandra Martin had worked with Albury based wool industry consultant David Tester and Macquarie Textiles on the design and development of the innovative Wool Charne' weave.

Mr Martin described the development as “hugely exciting”. “It’s very early days, but nothing ventured, nothing gained,’’ he said.

Mr Martin envisages sourcing wool from Charmac Merino progeny once demand for processed Charmac wool grows. He said the unmulesed Charmac wool sat well with consumers wanting ethically produced fabric.

A professional image consultant, Sandra Martin has been recommending wool over other fabrics to her fashion clients for the past nine years as breathable, trans-seasonal and cost effective clothing. “Wool cuts across every season and suits everybody’s shape – it is the perfect fabric,’’ Mrs Martin said.