Your label, established for over 20 years, has often been described as European in style. Given that you produce some made-to-measure garments, how do you adapt this European look for the Queensland climate or the tastes of your Queensland-based clientele?
It isn’t difficult to produce a sharp, tailored look that is suitable for the Queensland climate – especially since most of my inspiration is drawn from the Mediterranean area. I love the way Italian women wear really well cut garments in natural fibres on those hot summer days. Crisp linens and cottons look great on women of all sizes and are probably the most comfortable fabrics to wear in summer. I think the secret – if there is one – lies in the choice of cloth and the cut of the garment. Nothing can beat the look of a well fitted garment in a luxurious fabric no matter what size the woman is.
Your boutique is in the Brisbane Arcade where some other iconic Brisbane-based designers reside. How important has this site of local fashion been to sustaining your label in Queensland?
We also have a boutique in Park Rd, Milton which is close to our studio where we produce our entire range of garments. But having a shop in the heritage listed Brisbane Arcade is wonderful. It introduces our label to clients from all aver Australia and overseas. They love the history of the Arcade and the luxurious products sold in it. There is a fabulous mix of jewellery shops, shoes and accessories, other Queensland designers and imported labels, beauty and of course really nice little restaurants. From the moment a person enters the Arcade there is a sense of style and luxury. This ambiance suits our label.
Tell us how you came to be interested in fashion…
That is a very long story but basically I grew up with fashion. My mother was a great designer. All my childhood was spent watching her fitting and draping exquisite ball gowns for the social elite of Cape Town. But I actually studied Social Anthropology and it was only when my husband and I migrated to Australia that I considered a career in fashion.
Where do you look for inspiration on matters of style?
There is no doubt that the classic movie stars inspire me each season. Kathryn Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn … to name just a few.
What is your most treasured dress-related object or memory?
When I was about 4 or 5 years old my mother made me a navy blue cotton dress with white trim around the neck and slightly off the shoulder puffy sleeves. It was my absolute favourite dress which I would put on for any occasion. I cried when I grew out of it. The odd thing was that when my mother made the dress in a bigger size I hated it. I guess from an early age I didn’t like getting any bigger!
Give us three words, people or places you associate with Queensland fashion…
1.) Her Excellency the Governor General, Quentin Bryce – one of the most stylish women that I have ever met.
2) The Brisbane Arcade – the center of Brisbane Fashion since it first opened 90 years ago.
3) The Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival which has shown our southern states what Queensland designers produce.
Is there such a thing as a distinct Queensland style?
Queensland fashion means colour and natural fibers. But the interesting thing is that all my interstate clients crave the colour that we produce so it is not a look confined to Queensland – even in Winter!
Published in Issue 6, on November 5, 2013.