A chat with suit designer Effie Kats

21st June, 2019
(L-R) Effie Kats, Brooke Boney and Tanya Hennessy

As the founder of her eponymous suit label, Effie Kats knows a thing or two about great suiting. Having dressed everyone from Kelly Rowland to DJ Havana Brown and Sophia Cachia, she was thrilled to be given the opportunity to dress another strong woman: Toy Story’s Bo Peep. As part of the launch of Toy Story 4, Effie reworked Bo Peep’s traditional look into a suit with a thoroughly modern spin, debuting the looks at the launch on herself, the Today’s show’s Brooke Boney and comedian Tanya Hennessy (pic above). Here I spoke to Effie about working with such an iconic movie, the key to a great suit and the one mistake women often makes when it comes to choosing a suit.

What prompted you to want to collaborate with Disney for the launch of Toy Story 4?

I’ve always been such a huge Disney fan so when they approached me it was an instant yes. 

What inspired the design for Bo Peep’s look? 

I took various elements from Bo’s looks; her light pastels, her neckline, the frill on her pants, her cape—there were so many elements to draw from. 

How does it feel to be involved with such a beloved movie series such as Toy Story?

It was a very surreal moment for me, Disney was such a huge part of my childhood so to collaborate with them has been a dream come true for me. 

How long did it take to create Bo Peep’s new looks from start to finish? What’s involved with the process?

All three looks took a total of just under a month. There was a tailoring component for myself and Brooke’s [Boney] suits so they were produced in our overseas tailoring factory and for Tanya’s [Hennessy] look it was pattern made and produced in house by my pattern maker and seamstress. 

What was the catalyst for you starting your own bespoke suiting brand? 

Suiting started to come through in a big way, all the big fashion houses were heavily featuring suits in their collections. I felt there was no one really catering to women in Melbourne for suiting, particularly custom made suits. I’ve managed to capture a niche market. 

What inspires your designs? 

I want women to feel confident and powerful so with each client I meet with I think to myself how can we get maximum impact here? What’s going to make them feel incredible?

How does it feel to see celebs wearing your designs?

It’s a pinch-me moment every time. 

Who is one person you think wears a suit really well?

Gwyneth Paltrow

What are your tips for choosing a suit?

I always look at the quality of construction, the way it sits on the shoulders. I always opt for a slim sleeve (it makes such a huge difference) and of course the fit through the waistline. 

What are some mistakes people should avoid when choosing a suit?

A lot of women go up a size to cater for their bust and then it’s too big and shapeless everywhere else—but that’s the nature of the beast with off the rack suiting! 

What’s been the most challenging thing about starting your label?

Definitely establishing the right in- house team. It’s a process and I’m very lucky to have an incredible pattern maker by my side! 

What drives you?

My passion for the industry and my drive to always evolve and better myself. 

What are three things you can’t live without? 

Day time it’s quite casual and androgynous, night time it’s very clean cut and classic. I can’t live without my vintage Levi’s and my tuxedo blazer!

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