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11 November, 2020

Mango magic

A year 12 student has created a spectacular dress from an unexpected source, the husk from one of Australia’s favourite fruits. Jessica Collins created the full-length ivory coloured dress as part of her final design and technology project, using 1400 seed husks from her family’s calypso mango farm.

By Phil Brandel

Jessica Collins from Dimbulah made this beautiful formal dress from mango seeds. Credit - Nina Whitmill.

Jessica Collins from Dimbulah has made and designed a beautiful formal dress from mango seeds from her family’s farm after seeing how much fruit was going to waste each year.

The 17-year-old year 12 student who now boards in Sydney said the idea came after seeing over-ripened mangoes go to waste at the families Dimbulah mango farm.  

“Normally the overripe mangoes and husks are put into landfill at home, and they take a very long time to break down. The seeds are used to plant more mango trees but not much is done with the husks,” she said.

“I noticed how much fruit was thrown away and was thinking of ways to help eliminate that.

“Ever since I was little girl I have always loved fairy dresses and since I started design I always had the idea of designing my own ball gown.”

Jessica said the farm has also used the husk for animal fodder and that it can be processed and used as mulch, but instead she decided to create beauty from waste.

“I love the thought of mixing sustainability with fashion,” she said.

“I’ve worked in the packhouse at home and I’m very strict on the quality standards of our fruit so there are often quite a lot of mangoes that we don’t pass.”

In creating the dress, Jessica started collecting the seeds of overripe fruit. She cut off the flesh and then used a pressure cleaner to strip the remaining fruit. She dried them in the humidifier to avoid mould, then sliced around the outside of the husk.

The dress took about 4 months to make used about 1400 mangoes and weighs about 5 kilos.

“I looked at the patterns of the husk and started to create the corset and the dress itself. I considered various colour options, but once they’d dried, the husks became a beautiful pearl colour so I decided to leave them natural,” she said.

Jessica designed and made the whole dress from scratch and then hand sewed on the husks in rows of 20 with 70 per row.

“The reaction has been great and people are starting to realise that this is a lot of waste in the food industry and hopefully we can do something about that in the future,” Jessica said.

Jessica said she is considering a career as a nurse or in the fashion industry but for the immediate future she is hoping to head back north and help her family in the packing shed for the upcoming mango season.




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