I told you I’m all about the suit at the moment. And with it being the last day of Fashion Week for me I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to wear this beautiful Alexander McQueen blazer. The cut, the fit and what a colour! These Maggie Marilyn pants have a slightly sporty vibe about them and made the ideal contrast piece to the structured, polished feel of the blazer.
When wearing such a bold, vibrant colour I think it’s a good idea to keep accessories quite pared back. I kept to a simple black quilted mini top handle bag by Dior to carry all my essentials and Christian Louboutin bow heels to give me some additional height (this is also a must when wearing wide leg pants). Small frame Poppy Lissiman sunglasses rounded out my look and helped marry the sleek and fashion forward look I was going for.
Credits: Blazer, Alexander McQueen; Pants, Maggie Marilyn; Bag, Dior; Shoes, Christian Louboutin; Sunglasses, Poppy Lissiman
As one of the most in demand models in Australia, Roberta Pecoraro has had a busy few days to say the least. With her signature to-die-for curls and blunt fringe, Roberta has walked in multiple shows during Fashion Week, and it seems her next stop may be further ashore as she pursues an international modelling career. Having already appeared in a Country Road campaign and in editorials for Vogue and Grazia, there’s no doubt that she’s well on her way to making her dream of walking in a Gucci show a reality. I caught up with Roberta backstage at the Hansen and Gretel to chat about how she got into modelling, her signature dish and the highlight of her career so far…
You’ve walked in a lot of shows this week. What have you walked in so far?
So far I’ve done Camilla and Marc, We Are Kindred, Macgraw…wow, I’m forgetting them all now. And Hansel and Gretel right now and … I’ve forgotten heaps.
And so what’s been the biggest highlight of the week?
Probably the Camilla and Marc show. It was a beautiful show, the set, it was amazing.
So did you always want to get into modelling?
I did, actually. During high school I really got into it and then after high school I finished school and at [Sydney] Fashion Weekend, [modelling agency] Chic has a stall, and they saw me walk past, and they asked me to come in for an interview and a meeting. From then on, I signed with them.
And so far what has been your biggest career highlight?
Probably last year opening for the Dion Lee show. It was opening all of Fashion Week so that was an amazing opportunity.
And what has been the biggest surprise being in the fashion industry?
Biggest surprise … just all the opportunities that you get. Even travelling overseas, you’re so lucky to be able to jump from one city to another and I’m really appreciative of those opportunities.
And what has been your biggest pinch-me moment?
Biggest pinch-me moment? I actually don’t know this one.
Have you met anyone that you never imagined meeting?
Well, I got to meet [Victoria’s Secret model] Georgia Fowler not too long ago so that was amazing.
And so if you could walk for anyone, who would you walk for?
I’d love to walk for Gucci one day. Definitely a goal of mine.
Is the plan to stay in Australia or go overseas?
I’d like to go overseas during September, to try Fashion Week overseas.
And where do you see yourself in five years time?
Five years? If I can still be doing this, that would be amazing. But I love to cook and anything involving food, so maybe something involving food.
Nice, what’s your signature dish?
I like desserts so, I make these little Italian brioche buns with ricotta.
Need to come to your house for dinner. And what do you love about fashion?
How creative you can get and [being able to] show your personality through it. You can be a different personality one day to another.
What’s it like to show at Fashion Week for the very first time? Bella Pereira and Gemma Fitzgerald are the pair behind the eponymous label Pereira Fitzgerald. Founded in 2015 the brand has a focus on luxury fabrics, dramatic silhouettes and strong tailoring and this year marks their debut at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia. I paid a visit to the girls prior to their show to chat about the ups and downs of putting on a show, founding a label with a little help from Kickstarter and the one woman they’d love to see wearing one of their designs.
Ladies, congratulations on your debut collection at Fashion Week.
Bella: Thank you so much.
What an exciting time for you. How does it feel?
Gemma: Incredible. It was always in the path for us, I think.
Tell me your story. How did it all begin for you?
Bella: We met through mutual friends. I don’t think I always thought that fashion would be my path. I was studying science at the time.
Studying science? That’s crazy!
Bella: I think we immediately clicked, definitely. I knew that Gemma was an incredible machinist and into designs. I was really interested in learning about crafting a garment. Basically the conversation really just rolled from there.
Gemma: I studied fashion design. I was working for Zimmerman before. It just comes naturally. We were destined to meet.
Bella: Yeah, I think so. I find it hard to think of another person [I’d like to do this with]. We definitely don’t agree on everything, but we can always find a medium.
Why was it so important for you to show at Fashion Week?
Gemma: Just to branch out. I think it’s really important. We’ve done so well, so far. Our friends, our family.
Bella: Yeah, and a very close-knit, amazing group of loyal clients. They have kept us going, but I think we’re at a point now where we’re really ready to take it to another level. It’s also our beginning in wholesaling. We haven’t been stocked anywhere except in our online store, so far. That’s really exciting for us, as well.
What are the benefits of showing at Fashion Week?
Bella: It’s an international stage. It’s like everyone is there. IMG have been incredible in giving that to us in terms of the people that are there are so influential. Whether it’s a buyer or an influencer. It’s a huge stage for us, and everyone’s in the same room at the same time. You can’t really compare that to anything else.
What have you found to be one of the biggest challenges so far?
Gemma: I think it’s just time. Everything’s new. We’re both well and we’ve hired some amazing people to work for us, which is great.
I don’t think everyone realises how much work goes behind a show. What are some of the things that have surprised you?
Bella: [Everything] down to music composition. That’s a massive task and it is so important to have captivating music while the show is happening. Music, as well, that tells a story that’s in line with our collection and the kind of people we are. It’s so important that it makes the audience feel the way that you want them to feel.
The amount of conversations and emails and drafts and playlists that go back and forth. That’s one tiny thing in the whole production. It’s not just everyone shows up and you smack the garments on a girl and run down the runway. Everything is so considered and thought of. Nothing is by chance, nothing is a coincidence, everything is purposeful.
How would you describe your style aesthetic?
Gemma: It’s quite glamorous in a way, but then it’s like everyday glamorous, so you can definitely work with it on a day-to-day basis.
Bella: We love the idea of being really feminine, but also embracing the feel of feminine strength. I think we’re taught that powerful dressing always has a masculine edge and we’re very much about turning that absolutely on its head. You can dress really delicate and beautiful and feel really feminine but still feel powerful and confident and you can do anything. It’s all about those outfits that give you that and for me, I want an outfit that feels like that.
Do you guys feel that you are on the same page for your style? Or does one want a bit more of something else?
Gemma: Definitely, we’re a little different…I’m a bit more girly, feminine.
Bella: I like things long and tight, I guess.
Gemma: We start with one idea and then it goes there and it goes there and then neither of us like it and then it’s just this beautiful thing we create.
Bella: And I think it’s important, as well, because Gemma comes up with ideas that I never would, and I come up with ideas that she wouldn’t and it’s not necessarily something that I would wear, but it’s something that I love and appreciate and think is divine. I think that’s important. We’re dressing for a range of women, not just this narrow focus of ourselves, which is really important.
What would be your advice to young girls wanting to get into the fashion industry?
Gemma: I think just work hard. I mean, that’s a tale as old as time, obviously, but it’s hard when you have to intern and you have to do this and you have to do that and you’re studying, but that’s the real world. And, if your mum’s saying, “oh, that’s too tricky, don’t do it,” just do it!
Bella: Do what you feel really passionate about. You’re gonna end up there anyway, so you may as well. I think it’s just hours and hours of really hard work, but nothing good comes from anything that’s not hard work. No, if you want a boring life, don’t do this!
Do you think it is as glamorous as they make it?
Bella: No, it’s not glamorous…It’s up at crazy hours of the morning and going to sleep at crazy hours of the morning. Obviously it changes, that’s not sustainable all the time but definitely in the lead up to Fashion Week it is that real around-the clock dedication. I think you need to take it very seriously from the beginning if you wanna be taken seriously. I think there’s no way we could have made big sales in the beginning if we didn’t have one-hundred percent belief in what we were putting forward. We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t have that really propelling us forward.
And so Gemma you used to work for Zimmerman, they’re such a powerhouse in the whole fashion industry. What was the biggest thing you learned from them?
Gemma: Well, I was in the design room, so I saw everything from fittings and cuttings and seamstresses, pattern-makers, everything. It totally helped me.
I couldn’t think of a better learning ground.
Gemma: Yeah, even down to my drawing. But they taught me how to really hone it in and – I don’t know it’s good when the sketches matched what your vision is, sometimes that’s not so easy.
How do you decide who goes to your show?
Bella: We have an amazing publicist. Well, that’s the thing, we are so new, we don’t have those connections, and it’s just been amazing to team up with someone who does and to give us that head start in getting ready for what people that we need there.
Is it a bit daunting to have so many magazine editors and so many important people within the industry front row at your show?
Bella: It’s very much like a pressure, but it also fuels the adrenaline that keeps you crazy, so it’s worth it. It’s really exciting. Super exciting.
Gemma: Our mums will be front row. Really excited [about that].
And can you tell me a little bit more what we will see on the runway, what will we see coming up?
Gemma: Well, we went to France to buy fabrics earlier this year, so there’re things inspired by French silk and-
Bella: Very much like that Rococo [style]. How fashion is depicted in those paintings, that really lustrous, incredible silk, we’ve really tried to capture that. But again, it’s really soft with this kind of contrast of really sharp tailoring, big, oversize silhouettes. We don’t really do anything halfway, we’re very zero or a hundred, I guess, in everything.
Gemma: If we’ve got a ruffle, it’s a ruffle.
Bella: I do think you can really wear these pieces to anything, they’re definitely not like your average everyday casual piece, they are pieces that we want women to really reach for and be excited to reach for it in the wardrobe every morning.
Gemma: And be confident, too. We know a Sydney blogger and she dresses up every day just to go and buy milk. And we love her, she’s amazing. And I suppose she’s got that confidence, and we want everyone else to have that confidence, you know? Dress up, you’ll feel amazing, and you’ll look amazing.
Bella: Even if you’re gonna pair it back with something really casual, it’s that amazing feeling of having a beautiful handmade piece of clothing on your shoulders, and it feels gorgeous and it’s just… priceless.
And if you could have anyone wearing your label, who would it be?
Gemma: We have spoken about this, Cate Blanchett really comes to mind.
And what’s next for you guys after Fashion Week?
Gemma: Well, hopefully we’ll have offers after Fashion Week.
Bella: Yes, it’s just kind of getting into those commitments with them, delivering, seeing our clothes stocked, hopefully internationally at some stage. We’re big believers in owning our way in Australia first, but that’s definitely a long time off for us, to see our clothes hanging in The Bon Marche or somewhere incredible.
So the fashion industry is so hard to get into, what was the pivotal point that you got into a fashion?
Gemma: Well, we started with Kickstarter.
Bella: Our first collection was pretty small, eight piece collection that was made from entirely silk satin. Really heavy, lustrous, really high end premium silk satin. And we had all of these friends and family members that were so interested in what we were doing and we kind of hit a bit of a roadblock in terms of just taking things to the next level and in terms of production, all those things you run into when you start a business in fashion and garment production. And so what we did was through Kickstarter, which is a crowdfunding platform, we started a campaign that basically had all our pieces up for sale, and our friends and family, anyone who knew about us, potential clients, could go on there and purchase at a discounted price with the understanding that the garments would be delivered four months in advance.
Such a great idea.
Gemma: We weren’t asking for money and everyone was so excited anyway.
Bella: We’re surrounded by such beautiful people and our families and friends and everything, so it just meant that they could have a part in our beginning as well, which was really special.
Gemma: We also got some overseas clients from that as well.
Oh, did you?
Bella: Yeah, we did, because Kickstarter itself has its own marketing strategies that involved our campaign so that helped us enormously as well.
That’s incredible. Well, I wish you very best at the show and I can’t wait to see it.
With another full day of shows I wanted a look that was comfortable yet still managed to push style boundaries. If there’s one time to experiment with a new look it’s Fashion Week. I was attending the Macgraw show this morning so I wanted to centre my look around a top and skirt from their current collection. I loved the 60s feel of the crochet mini worked back with a statement button down shirt. There’s something about dramatic shirting that I’m really into at the moment and the finishes on this top from the ruffled collar to the puffed sleeves and sweet heart applique on the back, all combine to make a statement.
If there’s one piece in my wardrobe that has me excited at the moment it’s this Gucci trenchcoat. With a traditional feel at the front it’s livened up by the embroidered moth at the back and the cursive writing on the collar. It helped keep me cosy throughout the day and was a definite focal point to my ensemble.
After a few days of heels I opted for comfort today. These flat boots by Maje are not only great to hang out in all day when you’re on the go, the statement buckles at the front turn them into a striking outfit element. Round frame Chloe sunglasses and a classic Miu Miu blush clutch helped provide the finishing elements to my look and are the ideal subtle complementary pieces.
Have you always wanted to know what it’s like to be a stylist? Jess Pecoraro has dressed the likes of Jesinta Franklin, Pia Miller, Carissa Wolford…and me! Having got her start as an intern at Cosmo before becoming the Fashion Editor of Women’s Fitness, Jess is now a freelance stylist in demand. Australian Fashion Week is one of the busiest weeks in the calendar for the Sydney-based stylist who is not only attending the shows but styling attendees and the show of a label about to debut at #MBFWA for the first time. I caught up with Jess before the craziness really hit to talk styling celebrities, the perks of working in fashion and the one thing she insists every girl should invest in.
How did you get into the industry?
I pretty much started straight from school. I was lucky enough to have a friend whose friend worked at Cosmo, so I started as an intern. I interned for probably two years, pretty much every day. My poor parents were like, “When are you actually gonna get a job?”
[I said] this is a job but it doesn’t pay. So I borrowed their car and didn’t have any money for food. So it was just like they were funding my job for a good two years. And then I was lucky enough [that] Cosmo created a role for me as a wardrobe coordinator, which pretty much is an intern but you get your [name on the] masthead. So from there I I worked across a few other titles at Bauer, and now I’ve been freelance for probably four years.
Was the end goal always to be a stylist?
Initially no. Being at school I just thought there’s nothing in fashion for me and I just didn’t realise a role like a stylist existed to be honest with you. So I thought okay, I’m going to go to university and study languages because I could speak Italian and wanted to live overseas. I went into my Orientation Day [at university] and just walked around and thought, this is not for me…So I took a gap year and with that I decided okay I need to do something in fashion.
What is it about fashion that you love?
I guess I was brought up in that environment. My mum’s a designer, so I’ve got a few years of me at age three walking around her showroom pretending that I was dressing an imaginary person saying ‘you shouldn’t wear this with that’ and so it started from a young age. It’s always been me, I guess.
What does Fashion Week entail for you?
Manic week! I guess it’s also the lead up that gets quite crazy. I feel like I am quite organised, but it’s always that waiting for something or waiting for someone and everything always seems to happen the day or two before the shows begin, so it’s a lot of prep. I’ll be styling a show this year as well as dressing girls attending shows, as well as attending shows myself.
Can you tell us a little about the show you’re styling?
Yes, of course. I’m styling the Pereira Fitzgerald show. They’re two young designers, so it’s their first year showing at Mercedes Benz [Fashion Week Australia], which is exciting. I’ve come on board because it’s very much my style. Clean lines, effortless and quite classic pieces that you could wear every day.
What does it entail when you’re styling a show?
From the start we sat down with the designers to go through all their mood boards and their designs. I’ve gone through each piece and said this is what I think, or maybe we should cut that out. We want a strong collection. And then [I did] castings.
So you cast all of it?
Yes. Everything from the models to the style, hair, makeup and shoes.
Where do you find your inspiration when you’re styling a show?
I guess from a mix of things. I’m very old school. I still buy magazines, so I think that’s my first point. We’re lucky enough now with Instagram, it’s a big, big inspo, and I can do that in bed at night. Also my surroundings. I like travel and [the Pereira Fitzgerald] show is inspired by the Italian lifestyle which fits perfectly with me.
You’re styling shows, you’re going to shows, you’re also dressing amazing celebrities. Can you give us a few hints of who you’ll be dressing?
I’ll be dressing [Victoria’s Secret model] Georgia Fowler only for one night. I’ll also have Jesinta Franklin who will be attending a few shows and Brooke Hogan, who’s a young influencer from Melbourne.
When you’re dressing someone like Jesinta Franklin how do you go about it?
At the beginning it’s always quite hard when you work with someone, because you’re trying to get their sense of style. I like to have all my girls look different but still have that touch of yes, she was styled by me. So I guess with Jesinta, we’ve worked together for everything so I know her style. We always go for classic pieces but I think with her attitude, she can rock anything, which changes that look. So if it is just a plain black suit with a pair of glasses, bag and shoes we can change that outfit.
Do you work closely with her in choosing the looks or do you just put together a wardrobe?
We work very closely together so I I fit her probably once a week. We also coordinate even for day-to-day outfits. She’ll send me a snap of what she’s thinking of wearing, and I’ll say yes, or maybe change the shoes or the bag. It’s quite nice to see how her style has changed ever since we’ve started working together,
What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing beautiful clothes and having a look at things that the public doesn’t get to see and also using stuff before it actually is released. I get so excited when I get a lookbook to pick from that no-one’s seen. And also meeting great people. I’m really fortunate to be around such really lovely people. People always say to me, “Is it a bit bitchy?” but I’m really lucky that I’ve got a good group of ladies around me.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Working on a mix of different things at the same time. So at the moment I’m working on a show, dressing people and I’ve got three shoots as well that have nothing to do with Fashion Week and lookbook styling. So I think its just getting your mind at different stages. Like this morning Georgia [Fowler]’s going to Cannes when she leaves [Australian Fashion Week] so I’m dressing her for that so it’s completely different styling— we’ve got gowns and jewellery. I’m like the courier driver and everything! I’ve got a good team of girls as well so that makes a difference. Having them on board just makes me stressed and when you know you can trust someone as well, so they can do those little jobs for you.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing at Fashion Week?
I feel like lots of clean, classic line. A few designers will definitely add some prints. I’m excited to see Hansen and Gretel, they’ve created something fun. So that very classic, tailored style, I’m sure we’ll see that. I was very excited to see Camilla and Marc’s show.
What is the number one key wardrobe piece that every woman should own?
A black blazer. And invest in a really good one— I always say that to my clients. Yes, it’s a big investment to buy a Saint Laurent or Balmain [blazer], but you’ll have them forever. I think that’s my number one. A white T-shirt, good denim, and probably just an easy dress that you can wear day or night, depending on your shoes.
What’s your number one styling tip when you’re dressing?
Don’t follow trends. As much as we obviously do want to be trend-driven and make a statement, you still have to have an overall classic aesthetic and then add little bits and pieces with your shoes and handbags. I think that’s a good way to add a trend in. And also dress for your shape. We see models [wearing something] and are like “that’s amazing” but if you’re petite and short then it doesn’t work. So it’s also dressing for your body shape.
Fashion Week Five
Shows I attended: Albus Lumen, Bianca Spender, Anna Quan Location: carriageworks Fave show: Albus Lumen Biggest trend I saw: Earthy tones, silky soft fabrics and shirting with a feminine twist, The highlight of the day: Sitting down with Jess Pecoraro chatting fashion, styling and celebrity dressing
Brother and sister design duo Camilla and Marc Freeman have seen great success since the launch of their brand in 2003. Their namesake label is now stocked in Australia and internationally at major retailers such as David Jones, Saks Fifth Avenue and Net-a-Porter. Additionally they have also launched a diffusion line C&M, which comprises off duty pieces and swimwear. It has now been 15 years since they first showed at Australian Fashion Week, and this year, Camilla and Marc are opening this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) and I for one cannot wait to see their latest collection. I caught up with Camilla and Marc at their Sydney studio ahead of MBFWA to chat about what Fashion Week means to them and what we can expect from this Resort collection.
So guys are opening Fashion Week. Are you excited? How are you feeling?
Camilla: Excited. There’s a nice little hum in the office. Everyone’s really looking forward to it. The energy is definitely at a high.
Marc: We’re busy and there’s a nice, frenetic energy. But we’re organised and focused, and extremely excited to be opening the week.
What does it mean to you to open the week?
Marc: It’s really an honour. We’ve been in the industry now for a little while, so to be able to [show] at the beginning of the week is a huge honour.
What does Fashion Week mean to you guys? Why is it so important to show?
Marc: I think we love being able to put our range on the runway. To be able to present our vision in a immersive experience, to our customers, to our buyers, and to the media. So Fashion Week is really important to us, to be able to share that message.
Camilla: And not just that. I think also to be able to show all of those people the way that we would style the collection. That’s really important.
What can we expect to see on the runway?
Camilla: Some exciting things happening. We’ve been working on the show for about six to eight months. The set is going to be, as Marc said, a fully immersive experience. And the collection is looking beautiful. [Vogue Australia Fashion Director] Christine Centenera is flying in to style it.
Oh, wow. Fantastic.
Camilla: So we’ve got some exciting styling touches coming from her. And some interesting new silhouettes. And the rest, you’ll see.
What was your inspiration behind this collection?
Camilla: The resort collection was inspired by a strong, forward thinking woman. Which drove us from the very beginning, and it’s continued to do so. And you’ll see that on the runway.
How would you describe the Camilla & Marc woman?
Camilla: She’s strong, she’s effortless, confident. She is sensual and feminine as well. I think those two words are really important here, with the confident woman that I described before.
So as a brother and sister duo, is that easy working together or does it find its challenges as well?
Marc: Surprisingly easy… I think we’re very close, both in age and as individuals, so we find having a working relationship to be effortless. While the business of running a business and daily life are hectic, I think being able to rely on someone – your sister —
Camilla: [Someone you] trust implicitly.
Marc: Yeah, that you trust implicitly makes business a little bit easier
Have you always shared the same vision?
Camilla: Very much so. But we’ve got different strengths so that’s, I think, part of it. That’s part of the magic.
Marc: I think we share the same vision, but we often look at it ibn a slightly different way.
Camilla: Different angles.
Marc: So think that allows us to achieve our vision in a better way. In a more considerate, powerful, and better executed way.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
Camilla: I think trust is definitely one. We have an incredible team around us, who have been supportive in helping us build the business that we have today. And we wouldn’t be here without them. And each other.
Marc: A lot of hard work…But it’s shared vision and a great team that allows us to achieve it all.
You’ve had some pretty incredible celebrities wear your outfits. Is there one that stands out in your mind?
Camilla: Do you know what, we get often asked this question. And just seeing anyone and everyone—whoever is wearing our pieces—makes us feel really happy. There isn’t one person that we’ve gone, “That’s our dream.” It’s really been daily, weekly, monthly, when we were out and about and we see someone wearing one of our pieces or carrying one of our shopping bags. That’s the good stuff for me.
And do you tell them that it’s your brand?
Camilla: Yes. Well, I was just saying…The other day I was at a function and there was this beautiful woman wearing one of our Emory dresses from the current collection, and I went up to her and I said, “You look absolutely radiant. You look beautiful.” And she was so happy, and it’s nice when you can, you know…touch someone like that.
What is the most satisfying part about having a successful brand?
Camilla: I think there’s a lot of things. Being able to wake up every day and know that you’re going to a place that you absolutely love to go. And see the people, and the people that are around us, they really inspire us—inspire me—every day.
If you could have anyone wear your brand, who would you dress?
Camilla: Honestly, again like we were saying before, there isn’t one person. It’s just – it’s the journey of seeing people, you know? That’s what makes it worthwhile.
What are the biggest challenges you face being in the Australian fashion industry?
Camilla: I think that it’s the opposite. It’s not challenges, it’s we are so far removed from everywhere else in the world. I actually think that we have advantages. We’ve got an amazing landscape that inspire us every day. We’re ahead of everybody.
Camilla: In terms of timezone, and really the only downside is you lose a day when you fly back from wherever you’ve been. Apart from that, I feel like there’s more pluses than negatives.
Marc: I think Australia is a really fortunate place. I think we’ve got quite an affluent country. And people love fashion here. So I think while we are long way away from the rest of the world, I think we have an amazing country that really embraces Australian designers…So we’ve been fortunate to be able to build a really strong business in our backyard.
Do you think living in Australia influences your brand?
Camilla: Certainly. I think the landscape, number one. Light. Colour. It definitely affects our decisions when we’re going through the design process and choosing colours. When you look at say, London life versus Australian life, it’s just so different.
Marc: And likewise, we get to travel a lot. So I think being an Australian, everyone travels. Just to go anywhere is far, whether it’s in Australia or outside of Australia. I think by virtue of the way we live geographically, we get to experience the world and learn by the world. We come from an English lineage, but we really are a melting pot for all nationalities globally. So I think there is a unique lifestyle happening in Sydney, in Australia, that influences us on a daily basis.
What’s been your biggest career highlight so far?
Camilla: So far, I would say this. There isn’t one. Every day is a journey for us. Every day we are continuing to enjoy, inspire, be challenged. It’s just a continuous journey. I think we are so privileged to be able to do what we do and be able to love what we do, that I just…Every day is a highlight, and it continues.
Marc: Yeah, I was going to say It’s a journey. And that’s what we love about having our own business; that we’re able to go on that journey, and particularly go on that together. The two of us and with our team. So I think there’s no specific one, but it’s the small things that really get us excited.
What’s your number one styling tip?
Camilla: Don’t even start to get dressed until you feel fantastic about yourself. Then when you’ve put all those pieces on, just make sure you’re comfortable, because that’s the most important thing, I think. Every woman should feel confident and comfortable and beautiful in their own skin.
What’s the number one wardrobe essential?
Camilla: A fabulously tailored blazer.
What is your favourite piece from the runway [current collection]?
Camilla: I do. I have a jade Lurex funnel neck top and skirt, that I just can’t wait to wear. And I can’t wear it until the runway is done, so it will be one of my first outfits that I wear.
Do you only ever wear Camilla & Marc?
Camilla: I wear lots of Camilla & Marc, but I definitely wear other brands. I like to mix it up. And then there are days where I’m head to toe.
Where do you see Camilla & Marc in five years time?
Camilla: Continuing to evolve. Continuing to do what we do. Continuing to try and be better at what we do.
Fashion Week Five:
Shows I attended: Camilla and Marc Location: Royal Hall of Industries Fave show: Camilla and Marc of course! Biggest trend I saw: Oversized silhouettes, tailoring, pastel prints and striking tailored blazers The highlight of the day: Seeing Victoria’s Secret model Georgia Fowler on the runway in a green metallic dress. And the set— the transformation of the The Royal Hall of Industries into an Australian desert environment was incredible.
Enjoying lunch with fashion designer Steven Khalil at Bistro Moncur, Woollahra
Steven Khalil is one of Australia’s leading designers, specialising in red carpet and bridal gowns. His creations have been worn by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Jenner, Kelly Preston and Jesinta Campbell. He also launched an e-boutique last month, and is launching a new perfume next month. Khalil, 39, chats to me about dressing celebrities to royalty, and shares his best advice for brides-to-be.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Sydney. I was raised by a single mother. I was the youngest of four children … I struggled at school because I was creative and I think back then they didn’t know how to deal with creative students. So I was always in trouble or never really connecting. I could never sit down and keep still. In the end, they had to keep paper and pen away from me because all I would want to do was sketch dresses in class. So growing up was a struggle, but I was a happy child and really positive and I think that’s what got me through.
Did you always want to be a designer?
Yes, I decided I would make wedding dresses at the age of six.
One of Steven’s wedding dress creations. Photo: @stevenkhalil and photographed by @yervantphotography
What influenced your choice of career?
I was watching Princess Diana and Charles’ wedding and I remember being really excited about the wedding and my mum was really baffled by it and she said, “Why are you so excited about this wedding?” I didn’t know why, and then when I saw the gown I said to my mum, “I’m going to make wedding dresses when I grow up”… I got my first sewing machine when I was 11.
What route did you take to pursue your dream?
I went through high school and did textiles and design at school, I was very drawn to all the creative subjects. And then the minute I left school I went to college and I studied design, fashion and clothing production and manufacturing, and I got my first real job when I was about 19: I was making flower girl dresses for a company. Then I … got head-hunted to go and work in a bridal boutique in Double Bay, called Mark Holt Bridal, when I was 22 years old, and I was living the dream, really. My gowns were on the covers of all the magazines and I stayed there for about seven years, and then I opened my own store.
You’ve dressed so many celebrities and influential people. What has been your biggest pinch-me moment?
When we dressed Kylie Jenner for the Grammys – it was very unexpected, although that dress was with Jennifer Lopez, so I was hoping she would wear the dress, but it didn’t fit her and so that dress was sent to Kylie.
You recently dressed the Crown Princess of Greece. How did that come about?
The next day after the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia show we received this e-mail [saying that the Princess Olympia of Greece] wanted to wear [a piece from the runway] for her 21st birthday.
Princess Olympia wearing one of Steven’s creations. Photo: @olympiagreece
What was it like to dress royalty?
Well, it’s a first for me … although it has been an ongoing dream for me to make a royal wedding gown because it stems back to the [Princess] Diana thing of me being so obsessed with her wedding dress. So to make a royal wedding gown would be the ultimate for me.
If you could dress anyone, who would it be?
I’ve always wanted to dress Cate Blanchett because she’s Australian and has done so well overseas.
What is the most expensive dress you’ve ever had to create?
We did a wedding gown for a client in Dubai and she paid $54,000 for that gown. She had seen something that we had done for somebody else, but she wanted a grander version of it, so a lot of it came down to the detail.
What do you love most about being part of a wedding day?
A bride is like the centerpiece of the wedding, isn’t she? The anticipation of her arrival, everybody waits to see her gown. So it’s really special to be chosen to make the gown, it’s such a special honour to do that. So I just love being part of that process.
How do you deal with “bridezillas”?
Over the years I’ve started to realise that it’s so much bigger than me and the dress … You put out the best you can put out… [but] a lot of it is just being patient and they’re under a lot of pressure from their families, [and] under financial pressure a lot of the time, to have this beautiful wedding. So you’ve got to really stop and think about what’s going on for the person and try to be as patient as possible.
What do you think the secret is for a woman looking great on her wedding day?
A lot of it is confidence. I know it probably sounds cliche, but I think if you feel good in something and you’re carrying that really well, you’ll give a good vibe.
What are the biggest fashion mistakes you see?
I think when you seen an image of somebody that looks amazing and you’re like, “I want that whole outfit,” but you always should make something your own. Don’t try to emulate what someone else is wearing because they might have a different body shape to you and the clothes might not fall the same way on you.
Have you got plans to open stores internationally?
I would like to, yes. So what we’re doing at the moment is just developing the brand more, creating more products so that we can then just open beautiful boutiques in chosen cities.
Some of Steven’s new jewellery line. Photo: Steven Khalil
How are you expanding?
We are adding more to the line, adding in jewellery, robes; we’re going to go into more beautiful lingerie as well … So we’re working on a new collection for that, because the first season of those christening gowns sold out so quickly… and we still have waiting list for them.
Tell me about the perfume.
The perfume is really gorgeous and it’s going to be launched in [early August]. We’re just finalising all the labels and the packaging at the moment. The fragrance consists of rose, patchouli and lily of the valley… I want people to come into the store and be able to buy various products, not just the dress. So it’s kind of following in the footsteps of Elie Saab, Vera Wang, to create a really beautiful brand experience.
If you hadn’t gone down this career path, what would you be doing?
You know, I have no idea because this was the only thing I wanted to do … when I was growing up, so many people were saying to me, “You can’t be a dressmaker, that’s not a real job.” What is a real job? So I thought about becoming a hairdresser or a lawyer.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I love going out with friends to eat, I love Sunday morning breakfasts, I love being by the water. Yeah, I’m quite simple … I love to shop, I love beautiful clothing, I love going to art galleries.
Where do see yourself in five years?
I would love a concept store with sales people, beautiful products everywhere and just a really beautiful shopping experience.
MBFWA is on a roll and Day 2 proved impressive both on and off the runway. From pastel silks at Ginger & Smart, to bold silhouettes via Rebecca Vallance, there was a feminine edge to each show. In the wardrobe department, I chose to keep it neutral today, with a beautiful crepe SportMax shift dress with button details, another perfect silhouette for the baby bump. For the morning shows I added a beige trench by Christopher Esber. In true Esber style, the coat boasts stunning cut out details and a cape-like collar.
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