Along with being able to check out all the amazing shows at Sydney’s Carriageworks, one of my favourite things about Fashion Week are the offsite evening events. Tonight, I’m attending dinner hosted by the designer Anna Quan showcasing her latest collection, and I couldn’t think of a better option than a LBD with a twist. A black dress is always a failsafe option of mine for any event, but what I love about this dress is the textural element. The ribbed fabrication is a modern touch, while the cut-out adds a sexy touch that’s befitting of an evening soiree. Also the twisted neckline is a design feature that adds a little extra intrigue. I’m also a fan of a midi length dress for an after dark event as it’s always guaranteed to look polished without being overdone.
Accessorising this look, I wanted to keep things quite pared back. I went for a black structured top handle bag by Fendi: simple, elegant, classic. I didn’t want the look to look too flat and felt it needed just a little bit of relief in the form of another hue, so I called upon my mesh Bottega Veneta heels. They’re a neutral so I knew they wouldn’t overwhelm the dress, but it does break up the black on black quite effectively A few understated accoutrements in the form of simple drop earrings, a timepiece and my Cartier bangle and I’m set.
First day of summer! Having just emerged from a heatwave in Sydney, it’s nice that the weather is going to get back to milder temperatures this week. I’m particularly excited to break out this look. It’s a casual denim outfit but has a polished feel to it which I love. This jacket and skirt by Acler is the kind of thing that works perfectly together but even better apart. I can see myself wearing this skirt throughout summer and the denim jacket will come in handy for cooler summer nights.
I can’t think of a better hue to pair with denim than a nice crisp white. I love a trusty white button down shirt to add a dressy element to a look, and the roomy, slightly oversized silhouette of this Anna Quan shirt has a relaxed feel which is a great way to achieve some balance.
Paired with some fun accessories, this look is definitely going to be bookmarked for many an outing. These white Bottega Veneta slides are the latest addition to my summer wardrobe and I’ve already found them to be really versatile and easily work back with so many other pieces in my closet. A pair of classic RayBans and a cylindrical bag by Strathberry are the final finishing touches — both have a classic feel but still have fashion forward elements that elevate them.
Credits: Denim jacket and skirt, Acler; Shirt, Anna Quan; Slides, Bottega Veneta; Sunglasses, Ray Ban; Bag, Strathberry
A classic, white button down shirt is a workhorse in my wardrobe. I often turn to it as an easy, no-brainer option when I need to look polished. The trend of late has been for slightly more modern, fashion forward take on the traditional collared shirt. I was drawn to this Anna Quan piece with its oversized silhouette, statement cuffs and exaggerated sleeves precisely for that reason as I loved its contemporary feel and its elevated take on such a much beloved fashion staple. I find navy always works beautifully with white so I opted to pair the shirt with a knee length skirt in that hue. The cut-out detail gives the skirt a point of difference and adds an element of interest to the overall look. This neutral shoulder bag by Loewe is an all-rounder in my closet and can easily be utilised for a day or night look. In keeping my bag quite simple I thought the outfit needed a pop of colour so I paired it with my gold Gucci heels as a contrast to the traditional hues of the rest of the outfit. This look will become a go-to for me when it comes to work attire as I love laid-back tailoring that feels considered yet still remains effortless and not too done.
Credits: Shirt, Anna Quan; Skirt, Anna Quan; Bag, Loewe; Heels (similar here), Gucci
I always look forward to seeing the latest trends every new season so I was excited to attend the recent Myer Spring ’17 show in Sydney. Given it took place at a beautiful property by the water I wanted to wear something light and airy but still appropriate for the cooler temperatures in Sydney so I finally settled on this long-sleeved shirt dress by Anna Quan. A crisp white dress is always guaranteed to make a statement but this frock is taken to the next-level by its balloon sleeves and exaggerated cuffs and the Victorian-style high neck collar which give it a dramatic flair. I love to add a pop of colour whenever I’m wearing white so I opted for my gold Gucci sandals which also added a luxe touch. I wanted to keep the rest of my ensemble quite pared back so I paired it with a mini Loewe bag in a neutral shade and a simple, classic black sunglasses.
Australian designer Anna Quan (Anna Quan Hoang) first debuted her collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia in 2015. Since then she has been featured locally and internationally in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Elle magazine and has dressed international celebrities including Kendall Jenner and Karlie Kloss. This week Anna was awarded the Lexus Next Gen Award for Best Up and Coming Designer at the Prix De Marie Claire Awards. I caught up with her to chat about what it means to her to win this award, her first big break and her top styling secret.
What is a day in the life of you?
I usually get up at 8.30am, have a double shot of coffee, do some emails and get to work at 10am. I work in the studio until around 6pm and head home for dinner and get back in studio around 9pm and work a few more hours. Then head home (it’s only a five minute drive) and decompress for an hour or so and get to bed at 2-2.30am.
Congratulations on winning the Lexus Marie Claire Next Gen Award – Best and Up Coming Designer. What did it feel like to win?
Thank you. It was a mixture of utter surprise and delayed excitement. It completely stunned me and caught me by surprise. I had absolutely no idea. All the candidates were all so deserving.
What did it mean to win the award?
The endorsement and support from Marie Claire and Lexus is phenomenal. The prize is so well respected within the industry with past winners like Toni Maticevski, Dion Lee, Kym Ellery – it just puts you personally on a real high but also career wise it can open a lot of doors that might have otherwise remained closed. It gives me that extra fire in my belly to keep going when things get tough.
Did you know that you would enter the fashion world when you were growing up?
No I didn’t know that – not exactly. There was always this feeling of longing to be a part of fashion but it felt out of my reach when I was growing up. I wasn’t a cool kid. I lived in Mount Colah. There was a lot of emphasis put on pursuing a more traditional career path like medicine.
How did you get into the industry?
I graduated from law school and enrolled straight into a fashion design course at Fashion Design Studio (formerly East Sydney Tafe). It was my carpe diem moment and very much a case of now or never! The rest is history.
What was your first big break?
Dressing Kendall Jenner after my first group show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia. Her styling team picked my looks from a YouTube clip they found online of the runway show. It was incredibly random and fortunate.
How did you get your name out there as an emerging designer?
The most successful thing for me has been creating a signature product and getting it out there. I approached street style stars who I thought would really align with my aesthetic and it took off from there when they were snapped for Vogue or W magazine during Paris Fashion Week.
How would you describe the essence of your design philosophy?
My approach has been to make clothing and fashion relevant to the everyday and to elevate that. I always like to take something traditional and subvert and twist it a little. I take great pleasure in someone doing a double take and re-examining what they think they saw.
How did you develop your own personal style?
After high school I got more of a chance to explore my personal style at university and I did the cliché thing and moved into a share house in Newtown. I was an Arts student and everyone was a lot less conservative and more experimental with how they dressed at university. Living in Newtown helped as it was more edgy and I really enjoy people watching and take inspiration from that. People are not afraid to be different.
What is your number one styling secret?
Find yourself a good alterationist. Good fit is key and often underrated. It’s a little bit more effort but it makes a world of difference when the fit and proportion are adjusted specifically for your body.
What has been your favourite piece across all of your collections?
Pants. I love to wear a really wide leg palazzo style pant. They just make you look so much taller.
Where is the majority of your customer base from?
50 per cent is based in Australia and a good 50 per cent is based mainly in the USA east coast. It seems to attract a lot of New Yorkers.
What are your favourite styles at the moment?
I am loving big voluminous sleeves and long line trench coats. It’s a nice counterpoint between romanticism and utilitarianism. I’m always attracted to unlikely elements.
What big trends can we expect for spring and summer?
I think volume is going to continue to be a big trend for tops and dresses and bottoms.
What is your best ‘work perk’?
I have a mid-week day off on Wednesdays as I work through weekends. I try not to schedule anything in to allow myself time to do life related stuff, I sleep in if I need to. I do some light emailing and work as necessary but on Wednesdays I try to cut myself some slack.
What is the most challenging aspect of owning your own your own fashion label?
Learning when and how to say no. It’s really important to be true to your vision and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up and to be told by everyone to do something or be something you’re not. It’s taken me a while to master confidence and self-belief to say no to people and just do my own thing.
Your designs have caught the eye of many celebrities including Kendall Jenner, who wore your jumpsuit to Kim and Kanye’s lavish pre-wedding luncheon. Who were you most excited about when you found out they were wearing your designs?
Karlie Kloss. She did this shoot with Gilles Bensimon and the shirt she wore was actually a customer order. The editor at The Editorialist in New York had bought a shirt of mine seasons before it was a thing. She got her to wear it for a shoot. I had no idea this was going to happen and it was amazing.
Who else would you love to see in your designs?
Tilda Swinton and Caroline de Maigret. I am obsessed with those women. They are just so strong, feminine and chic all at once. I get this vibe that they don’t really give a toss what people think and just do their own thing.
What does success mean to you?
Being surrounded by the people I love, generating financial freedom from doing what I love and importantly – good health. It’s not necessarily being in every single store or the balance of my bank account.
Who inspires you?
Serious boss ladies. It’s not one person in particular, but there are a few women around me who run their own businesses, have kids and families and just get on with things and they are killing it. I am always in awe. It’s not to say they don’t get stressed or they don’t get frazzled, but they manage it with grace, guts and tenacity.
Who do you turn to for support?
My husband, he’s my partner in crime. He’s not in fashion and it’s great because it gives me perspective when dealing with obstacles and issues.
Where is your favourite travel destination?
Paris. I am lucky enough to go three times a year for work. Even when the traffic is hideous and I am cabbing into town from Charles de Gaulle airport. I can’t help but smile and enjoy the architecture, the quaint little cobbled laneways and watching people go about their daily lives. It’s totally corny to say this but it’s my spiritual home.
What do you like to do to relax?
Gardening and running. Gardening because I love to grow things. Running outdoors because it’s a great form of stress relief and after a while – you feel like you are flying. It really taught me to cope and deal with pain and discomfort – these things are transient and part of the process.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would really like to continue to do what I am doing but on a larger scale and selling to the right stores. Ideally – getting more help and growing my team and having more time to slow down and smell the roses.
WE WENT TO Prix De Marie Claire Awards, Entertainment Quarter.
WE ATE Baked blue eye cod with grilled baby leeks, oyster mushroms and chestnuts; followed by white chocolate hemisphere.
When it comes to designing less is more for Australian designer Anna Hoang. A 2011 graduate of the Sydney Institute of Technology, her label Anna Quan is a perfect example of statement-making minimalism. Hoang has dressed international celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Karlie Kloss and her range is stocked in Australia and internationally in Paris and Puerto Rico.
The label focuses on women’s ready-to-wear items and is about clean lines, functionality and attention to finishing details such as a strategically placed pocket or a perfectly finished lining. Each piece specialises in strong tailored silhouettes in luxe fabrications. Here I chat to Anna about her favourite trick for dressing well, where she gets her inspiration and how she gets ahead in the competitive world of fashion…
What influences your designs?
Streetwear. I love the way people style their clothes and how they wear common items everyday.
What is your favourite piece from your collection?
Fringed pants from Resort ’16. It adds a little bit of fun and playfulness into everyday dressing.
What is your most loved fashion item that you own?
Currently obsessing over Alighieri earrings from my friend who is a London-based designer. She makes these rough but elegant lost wax cast earrings in gold. They are just one-of-a-kind.
Who do you look up to ?
People who follow through and do what they say they will do.
When you need to escape where do you like to go?
Bed. Sleep is few and far between a lot of the time. I would love nothing more than a nap.
What do you think is the most important trick is to dressing well?
Definitely tailoring. Making sure your clothes are custom fit and taken in or up to your level. Never underestimate a great fit.
What has been your proudest moment so far in the fashion world?
Seeing my clothes snapped for best of street style for Paris, Milan, New York, Copenhagen fashion weeks for Vogue.com.
What is it like to compete in such a competitive industry as an emerging designer?
Like a marathon – it’s a long game – endurance and resilience is key. Sometimes it’s important to be reminded that you can get further with consistency rather than great big spurts and lags.
Which style icons do you look up to?
Pernille Teisbaek – she’s always putting together unlikely combinations that just work. She’s never boring
Anna in a snapshot:
Favourite colour: Red
Ideal comfort food: Hot chips
Most played song on playlist: “Killing Me Softly”, The Fugees