For my recent Date with Kate with Poppy Delevingne I honed in on a look that was light and airy and a fun colour palette of green and white. It was a refreshing change from a lot of the heavier looks I’ve been wearing during winter and what better excuse to embrace a little colour than lunch with one of my favourite models/actresses.
I am always easily won over by a long sleeved dress—there’s just something about the silhouette and the way it always looks chic and polished that I love. However I also couldn’t look past all the design finishes on this particular Maggie Marilyn dress (who by the way is quickly becoming one of my favourite designers). The cutout neckline, the sweet oversized bow and the ruching all work together to achieve a look that’s sweet without being too saccharine.
I wanted to have fun with my accessories so it seemed the perfect time for my embellished Gucci Dionysus bag to come out to play. My floral Gucci slides added a statement element to the rest of my look and pink sunglasses made for a vibrant finishing touch.
Credits: Dress (not in store yet), Maggie Marilyn; Shoes, Gucci; Bag (similar), Gucci; Sunglasses (similar), Gucci
You’ll be familiar with Poppy Delevingne first and foremost as a model. She was first scouted at the age of 15 by Sarah Doukas, Storm models founder and the woman who discovered a young Kate Moss. And whilst she’s modelled for the likes of Burberry and Alberta Feretti, and landed magazine covers for Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and fronted campaigns for the likes Louis Vuitton it seems she’s found her true calling: acting. She’s starred in King Arthur and Kingsman: The Golden Circle and is appearing opposite Antonio Banderas in Genius: Picasso. However we’re sitting down for a chat for another reason—her Queen of Pop collection with Jo Malone London. The fun, 60s inspired range includes everything from bubble bath to fragrances and has brought Poppy to Sydney to chat about its launch in Australia. Here we chat about working with such an iconic brand, why she loves Aussie labels and the one place in the world that gives her butterflies.
What are you up to and what are you doing in Australia?
I am in Australia for the last leg of my Jo Malone London Queen of Pop tour. We’ve done LA, London, Dublin, Paris, Milan. Now Australia. So this is my last bit, and I’m very sad that it’s ending.
Tell me all about your collection.
So Queen of Pop… we created our first standalone bubble bath. It’s Jo Malone’s first ever bubble bath. It’s about time. In a much bigger bottle, with three very luxurious fragrances. And then what is bath time without a luxury candle? Which we did in another three fragrances. And then I picked three favourite colognes, which all mean something to me in very unique and special ways. I’m a 60s girl at heart, so we went for quite a Mod aesthetic. I was very inspired by the 60s, and by pop art, and Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. So, bright polka dots, bright colours, gold stripes. We just wanted to do something that was really playful.
And so how did you go about choosing the fragrances?
So, Red Rose is … Was the first Jo Malone perfume I ever wore, and I started wearing it when I was 18 years old and I always go back to it, it’s like an old friend. Amber and Lavender is the cologne that my husband wears. It’s a unisex cologne and we did these little bottles so I can now carry him around wherever I go. And Peony Blush & Suede is my all-time favourite Jo Malone fragrance because it’s so feminine and light and floral, but has a little edge to it. If I wear it I get compliments.
The Queen of Pop collection is now available in Australia
What is a day in the life of you?
Every single day is so different…. a lot of planes, usually make up a lot of my time. I’ve actually at the moment just started [filming] a new TV show called Riviera, season two. So I’ve moved out to Nice, and I’ll be living there ’til November. Which is super exciting. Every day is a new adventure.
You’ve come from a modelling background, and now you’re focusing more on films and TV. Which genre do you prefer?
I prefer acting. I never really felt like I belonged to the modelling world. I was just always that goofy girl with lipstick on her teeth, tripping over lighting cables. I’m so grateful for the career that I had in the fashion industry, but acting really has my heart.
What was the biggest lesson you learnt while modelling?
Oh my God, to have a thick skin. To not take things personally. How to deal with jet lag.
What do you love most about acting?
For me, I like the challenge of it. I’ve always been someone who likes to push myself and challenge myself in any way that I can. So, for me it’s that terrifying feeling I get before going on set, and then being able to do it and achieve it. That sense of achievement at the end of the day is everything.
You’ve worked on some big films. What has been the biggest pinch-me moment?
I think my biggest victory moment would have to be doing the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in America. And I did that with Steve Martin and Martin Short. I’ve always been [a] huge fan [of both actors], since I was young. I grew up with [the movie] Father of the Bride. So, for me to be sitting on a sofa with those two comedic greats, and with Jimmy Fallon, who’s also a genius, he’s unbelievable, I was absolutely petrified and I opened a beer bottle with my eye sockets. I was like, “Oh my God, don’t do this, you’re gonna get a black eye!” It was so fun.
What was it like to be on such a big production like the movie King Arthur?
I mean, daunting, but quite incredible. Working with [director] Guy Ritchie is a dream come true. Getting to act with the wonderful Eric Bana and to meet all these incredible actors who I could learn so much from. It was daunting, but magical all at the same time.
What was it like to work with Antonio Banderas in the show Genius: Picasso?
Incredible. He is such a kind and generous man, and such a generous actor, and to be able to work with someone like him who I could learn so much from and … He was always so helpful and so respectful and I learnt a lot from him.
What’s been the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received would have to be from Cinderella, which is, “Be kind and have courage.” I love that.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think my personal style is very eclectic and I would say that I always dress to suit my mood. I like spontaneous dressing.
What are your wardrobe essentials?
For my daily uniform, I always have a really good pair of jeans. I’m obsessed with FRAME Denim or Citizens of Humanity. T-shirts, I love James Perse and Calvin Klein. A leather jacket. I have a gorgeous one by Anine Bing. And then I’d wear these little trainers called Feiyues, which are actually from China. I live in them. So yeah, like jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket and trainers.
What about beauty essentials?
Oh, my God, where do we begin? I wash my face with MBR (Medical Beauty Research) enzyme face wash. I love using Crème de la Mer eye cream and soft moisturizing lotion. That’s basically me done. I like to keep it very simple and quite basic.
What are you makeup daily essentials or are you one of those people that wears no makeup on a normal day?
If I’m not working, I like to do no makeup whatsoever, because whenever I’m working, it’s part of my job to wear it so I like to give my face a day off every now and again.
Are you a flats or heels girl?
Flats, because I’m so tall on my own. I don’t need any help in that department.
Do you like Australian labels? and if so, what are your favourites?
I do. Zimmermann has been one of my all time favorites and it’s come to London now, which is so exciting, because it means that I can basically wear them. I used to love sass & bide. I was so devastated when that stopped, because it was literally like my favourite store in the whole world. Who else do I really love? I’ve got really beautiful things … I can’t remember what she called it now. Her name’s Kit Willow. KITX, she’s got some gorgeous things. She’s a beautiful designer.
What are your favorite things to do when you come to Australia?
See all my Aussie fans, because they’re literally some of my favourite people in the whole entire world. To see them, to drink Aperol Spritzes, be in the sunshine, work on my freckles and shop.
Where is your favourite travel destination?
When I think about Italy, when I think about Positano and I think about having pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner, that gives me butterflies with excitement. And Le Sirenuse Hotel has ton loads of memories. One of my all-time favourite places in the world.
What do you carry in your travel bag?
In my travel bag I have a lovely organic lavender hand sanitizer. Yes, it’s literally the best thing ever. What else do I always carry in my bag? Jo Malone London do a gorgeous lip balm, a gorgeous vitamin E lip balm. They also do a lovely geranium and walnut hand cream that I’m obsessed with. And I’m also really obsessed with Dr. Barbara Sturm, who does these hyaluronic ampules. They’re like acid ampules and you crack them open and put all over your skin and just let it sink it. It’s heaven.
Amazing. I need to try that.
And a silk eye mask.
Really? Do they really work?
Yes. Makes the world of a difference. It’s so bad to leave … you know if you take off an eye mask and you have a mark on your face, as you get older, it’s really bad to do that. My dermatologist told me that. She’s like, “You need to get silk pillows, silk everything, because-yeah, because, it just wrinkles your face so much. I know, right?
I always saw them and thought, “Oh, it’s too high maintenance to wash silk pillows.”
I know. It’s annoying, but a silk eye mask is good enough.
What’s next in the pipeline?
I’ve been finishing off this show, Riviera. I’m filming it till November, and then I think just seeing what comes next. I’m going to be doing a third collaboration with Jo Malone London, so I’m super excited about that. I’m working on it at the moment, so it’s a work in progress, and we’ll hopefully get to tour with it next year.
If you could work on any film or with any actor, what would be your dream role?
My dream would be to work with the wondrous Meryl Streep. I think she can do no wrong. It doesn’t get much better than that.
And any particular character you could play?
I would love to play a character who’s perhaps completely out of my comfort zone. Somewhere where I’d have to really transform myself and really immerse myself and become that person. Anything that’s a real challenge.
Where you see yourself in five years time?
Five years time. Babies, babies, babies. I hope so. Fingers crossed.
We went to: Bistro Moncur Mosman
We ate: Pan fried barramundi fillet; Potato & ricotta gnocchi
Since her first show in Paris in 2011, Rebecca Vallance has cultivated a brand into a celebrity favourite and one that is stocked both locally and internationally. Her designs have been seen on everyone from Emily Blunt to Rachel McAdams and Chrissy Teigen and is now available at designer boutiques including Harvey Nichols, Net-a-Porter and My Theresa, along with bricks and mortar stores in Sydney and Melbourne. However that’s only just the beginning. As one of Australia’s top designers, Rebecca has her sights set on expanding her brand both at home and globally, and from our chat she’s not about to slow down any time soon. Here I chat to Rebecca about the two women she would love to dress, the one piece she considers to be one of her standout designs and why she only ever wears her own label.
What’s the latest with you?
I have just come back from London. I was there for Harrods and Harvey Nichols, and meeting with press over there. So it went really well. The brand’s on a big trajectory over there, so it’s really exciting to be there and be a part of it.
Yeah. So in that two years we picked up Net-a-Porter, and all the big international majors like MyTheresa. Then we’ve opened our stores now.
Oh yes, that’s right. You had just opened [in Sydney’s] Mosman.
Just opened Mosman. There’s Armadale [in Victoria] as well, which is a beautiful store. We’ve just opened The Strand [in Sydney] last week, two weeks ago, which is beautiful, and the pop-up in Paddington [in Sydney].
Congratulations! So why did you choose The Strand?
We could see from our eCommerce site that we were sending a lot [of orders] to the city, and we just wanted our customers to be able to come to the store and have the full Rebecca Vallance experience. To be able to see the full collection.
When you first started your label did you ever imagine that it would grow to what it has done now?
Look that was the goal, I hoped, but I think from day one, when I launched it in London, I always wanted it to have an international DNA and an international customer. Yeah, that’s always been the focus. We’re thrilled it’s going so well.
Where do you find your inspiration?
It changes every season. Like the collection that’s in store at the moment was inspired by one of Pablo Picasso’s works, The Ladies of Avignon. But then the Resort Collection, I was planning my husband’s 40th in Capri, and [I was inspired by] the colours of Capri. So it really depends what’s going on with me at the time and what I’m thinking about.
Out of all your collections, what has been the biggest stand-out piece that you’ve designed?
Oh wow. Look, I think [TV presenter] Sylvia Jeffreys‘ wedding dress was definitely quite special. But every season we evolve the brand. Every season there’s a new favourite. We’re definitely known for our dresses, but suiting for us is having a huge moment at the moment. You wore the Maya Suit.
Oh I love that suit.
Yeah. I think it’s about evolving the brand to a point where we’re known for most of the women’s wardrobe. You know options for everything. I think too, we’ve just launched Pre-Fall today, and that’s beautiful, that’s really special. I think that’s probably the collection I’m most proud of to date.
That’s amazing. You’ve had so many celebrities wear your outfits. Who are some of your highlights?
I noticed when I was in London last week, everyone knew of the brand, which was really exciting, and all the editors were already across it and already wearing it themselves. I think that’s exciting. You can see it’s obviously picked up an international following, and The Strand’s done really well already, so that’s good.
If you could dress any celebrity, who would it be?
Nicole Kidman or Cate Blanchett.
You are a mum of two, young boys.
How do you juggle work, running a successful business, and having two kids?
It’s so full-on. I am obsessed with my two little boys, they are just adorable. They’re so sweet. I look forward to every day. I love going home to give them dinner, and bath them, and play, and hang out. I think it’s about priorities. There are times where they really need me around 24/7, and there are times where they don’t, so it’s about prioritising, about what I’m doing every day and making sure that I’m available for both. But it’s also too quality over quantity.
So if my boys need me, then being at home, but if the business needs me then being at work. So I just do my best. I’m not saying I’ve got it perfected but I do my best.
What’s your number one style tip?
I think it’s not about what you wear. It’s how you wear it. I think if you wear anything with confidence, you’re 1,000 steps ahead.
What are your wardrobe essentials?
Wardrobe essentials. I think, for winter, a long-sleeved dress, like the one I’m wearing. Long sleeve mini dress. And colour! I always see so much black and charcoal and brown and whatever. I think colour for winter. I’ve tried this season. I made a conscious effort in putting lots of colour and colour palettes.
What are we seeing for winter?
So this [colour] that’s a dark raspberry, maroon, but then I’ve also done lots of blush and ivory. So I just felt even though it’s winter, your personality should still shine through with some colour. So yes there’s lots of beautiful knits that are colourful, and always beautiful coats. I’ve done a beautiful tweed coat this season, which has got bold statement buttons on it, and it’s quite distressed and it’s quite beautiful. There’s always some things that are staple pieces but a little bit different.
How would you describe the RV girl?
I think polished in an undone way.
Where do you see you and your brand in five years time?
I hope we’ll have lots of international retail stores. I hope we’ll have beautiful Australian retail as well, and I hope the brand will continue on the way that it’s going. I want it to be internationally renowned, that’s for sure.
What sets you apart from other designers?
I think it’s our unique DNA. We know who our customer is, and I think it’s our product. Each season we try and refine it more and push it further and making sure when people see the collection, they know that’s a Rebecca Vallence dress.
Is your wardrobe filled with your own collection or do you wear other brands?
I only wear Rebecca Vallance.
Do you really?
Yeah I know. Well this is the thing. I think for me I design what I want to wear to some extent. So, there’s always everything that I want in a collection because it’s what I’m looking to wear. So yeah I only wear my own stuff, and obviously shoes and handbags is different.
Have you ever seen a piece of clothing that you’re like, “Oh, I wish I had designed that.”?
Not yet. I think there’s some incredible wedding gowns. I appreciate other designers, absolutely, but I think I’m so focused on what we’re doing as a brand that I’m kind of stuck looking at that.
You see so many designers that take inspiration from international designers. How do you steer clear from not making it look too trend orientated?
I think that when I launched the brand when I lived in London, I wanted it to have an international DNA and be authentic to who I was and we were as brand, and that’s, you know whether it’s going to Europe and sourcing out fabrications or working to develop that fabrications with the mills.
Will you ever face moving the business overseas?
I hope that if it becomes a problem, that the business is too big to be just in Australia, I hope to see it off in London and New York. Yeah for sure.
Is there anything coming up we need to know about?
I think for us at the moment, we’ve had the launch of the Strands store which is really exciting. They’re putting a tram in George Street [in Sydney] as well, so there will be lots of traffic coming through there. In addition, were launching Paddington, test it to see how it goes. I think we’ll just keep building out online. It’s doing very well at the moment, whether it’s in Australia or our global customer. I think it’s about doing what we’re doing well and refining it and pushing the collection further and further.
We went to: Rosetta
We ate: Grilled market fish with salmoriglio; Burrata with radicchio; Green salad
New York City is about as far away as you can get from the rural town Narrandera where model Victoria Lee grew up. As a self-confessed homebody, she says even she’s surprised that she’s now based in the Big Apple and miles from home. However relocating to the other side of the world is the logical next step when you’re one of the hottest models of the moment. Along with walking in last year’s Victoria’s Secret show alongside Gigi Hadid and Naomi Campbell, she is also a freshly minted David Jones ambassador joining fellow Aussies Jessica Gomes and ex-AFL player Adam Goodes. I caught up with Victoria to chat about the secret to a flattering photo, the one beauty product she can’t live without and how she stays fit.
What’s a day in the life of you?
Every day is different, which took awhile to get used to, to be honest. But I’ve since learned to embrace this fact and just go with the flow—as much as I can anyway! In general though, I love to wake up early, exercise in the morning, make yummy food and then get on with my day. If I’m working the hours and location always change but if I have some time off I’ll usually take care of any chores or e-mails, catch up with friends, sort the neverending pile of mail, run errands… it’s always a little different.
What is Fashion Week like for you?
This is the first time I’ve been home for Australian Fashion Week in a long time so I’m very happy to be home, but also [being here] where I haven’t done the shows. Actually being able to sit and experience the show is fantastic. I’m really enjoying seeing the way the show comes together and to appreciate the collections and creativity of the designers and all their hard work, from the other side.
What was it like to attend Camilla and Marc’s opening show?
I am such a huge fan of Camilla and Marc and to think it was their 15 year anniversary which was amazing. The show was fantastic—you felt transported to this other world through the lighting, set, sounds and music. Not to mention the collection itself which was stunning—the models looked so beautiful, powerful and strong.
Last year you walked in the Victoria Secret show in Shanghai alongside other supermodels like Tyra Banks, Gigi Hadid and Naomi Campbell. How did that feel?
Surreal. It was so much better than I actually expected. I thought I’d be more anxious, that I wouldn’t be fully present and just enjoy, but did. And I think that’s because of the Victoria’s Secret team and the girls I was there with. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. They know you’re nervous! They really make an effort to make you feel as comfortable as possible and to just have fun and enjoy yourself, which is what it’s all about. It was very exciting, I really enjoyed the entire experience.
What does it mean to you to be an ambassador for David Jones?
It’s a real honour. I grew up shopping at David Jones and admiring past ambassadors Megan Gale and Miranda Kerr. To be a part of such an iconic Australian brand is incredible and I’m so happy to be a part of the David Jones family. Especially now; to be alongside Jess Gomes and Adam Goodes is amazing. And to be celebrating the 180th birthday of DJs is really special.
How did you first get into modelling?
I met with agencies after being recommended by photographers when I was in Sydney one time with my family. However I didn’t start going to castings until I finished school.
Was this always your dream?
No, not at all. Mainly because I grew up in Narrandera, rural NSW. I had no concept of the modelling industry—it was a long way away. Even after I started, I never viewed modelling as a career option. I had no idea what to expect, but I appreciated the fact that the opportunity doesn’t come by every day. I thought I would try it out in between school and university. I’m extremely lucky to have such a wonderful support network that has been by my side every step of the way.
What were you like at school?
I loved sport and athletics but was also very focused on my studies. I worked hard to get the best possible mark on my exams as I could. I ended up being Dux of my school which I was really happy about. All my friends from school try to catch up when everyone is home over Christmas which is always a lot of fun.
What’s something that people don’t know about you and would be surprised to find out?
Growing up I was a real homebody—I hated being away from home. Even on school excursions, I would want to go home ASAP. I couldn’t even do sleepovers. So to now live as far away from home as possible is something that still surprises me!
What was your first big break?
Very early in my career, my first Fashion Week, I walked for Camilla and Marc at Australian Fashion Week.
What has been your biggest pinch-me moment?
Can I have two?! Walking for VS [Victoria’s Secret] and being named as a David Jones ambassador were both pretty special pinch-me moments.
Who do you look up to?
I admire my parents and grandparents—I’m lucky to have such a wonderful family whom I look up to. I also admire women like Elle McPherson, Jess Gomes, Megan Gale, Doutzen Kroes, Diane Von Furstenberg, my agent, Doll, just to name a few! Intelligent, hard-working, very genuine women.
What has been the best advice you have ever received?
My mum always encouraged me to do my best in any situation and not to follow the crowd—be my unique self, always.
If you hadn’t become a model, what would you be doing?
Probably something in health or nutrition. I’ve always been fascinated by the human body.
As a model, how do you stay fit?
I love dance-based workouts—I find my body responds well and they are a great combination of strength and cardio. Along with stretching and recovery I make sure to respect my body and to prioritise sleep and recovery as much as my workouts. Along with proper nutrition. I love food and aim to nourish my body in the best way I can.How do you prep for a big show?
I have a healthy lifestyle constantly but leading up to a big show I’ll make sure to drink plenty of water and get as much sleep as possible. I have a sweet tooth so I might cut back a little on the chocolate. But it’s all about balance.
What is it like living in New York?
I love it. It took a while to get used to—it’s a far cry from Narrandera and Sydney. But it’s an amazing city with such a vibrant and eclectic energy and culture. I’m very lucky to be able to live there and call Australia home. It’s the best of both worlds which I’m very appreciative of.
What do you miss most about living in Sydney?
The wonderful beaches, weather, our laidback attitude, our sense of humour, our fresh food, being close to my friends and family of course. The list goes on… travelling and living away really emphasised to me just how lucky we are as Australians to live here. I know it’s such a cliché, but it’s true—we are the lucky country.
What is the secret to a great photo?
Oh my gosh—good question!! I guess try to relax and keep your chin down.
What is your number one beauty essential?
Oils. I’ve noticed a real improvement in my skin since using them. I love Dermalogica phyto replenishing oil at the moment but I’ll change it up depending on how my skin is feeling. They can be used to remove make up, as a treatment, to prep for makeup, during a flight—just make sure you get one that suits your skin type.
It may seem innocuous but when it comes to Fashion Week seating is crucial, especially when it comes to the front row. As the seating director at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, Miro Kubicek is the man in charge of ensuring that the right people end up in the right places, which with last minute no shows, VIPs running late and the occasional attendee trying to secure a spot in the coveted front row, is no easy feat. Having been in the role for over 15 years, Miro has seen more than his fair share of dramas and here he chats to me about how he maintains order at the shows, how fashion has changed over the years and flirting with Anna Wintour…
Can you describe your role?
So my role is seating director of this event. What it basically means is that I have to make sure that the front row is the way it should be or the way it was designed. I’m dealing with the last minute changes and all the small details that actually happens last minute, which is people not showing up or running late, being tied up in meetings, and I’ll get a notification or I’ll get an SMS and I kind of start adjusting. At the end of the day, the front row needs to look right and it needs to be the right people in there.
Why is the front row so important?
Well, look, the designers, this is the time when they’re presenting their collection and they worked really hard and long hours and all that. SO, it is really important because it makes a difference in sales, in exposure, in how the collection is perceived or how it’s received.
It makes a difference in who sees the collection? How does the hierarchy work?
The hierarchy, it’s more like a mixture of things. It’s not like if you just get editors and give them the preference. That’s one dimension of the whole spectrum, when normally we would have couple of aspects of it. You’ve got the media, you’ve got the journalists, you’ve got the celebrity, you’ve got the buyers, and then the socialite and then sort of the exposure on that level. So, you need to just have a good mixture of it all.
And you’re the man to know it.
I can’t remember a Fashion Week where you haven’t been in charge of this. How did you get in to this?
I was always around events and doing different things, but I got engaged so I was asked to come and do Australian Fashion Week, I think maybe it was 2002 and 2003, which was on the events side. There was a guy who was doing seating, I didn’t know that role existed. I was looking at him and I was thinking “That’s a pretty cool role and I would like to do that one day.” I was doing it the next year.
How has the landscape at Fashion Week changed over the years?
Oh, dramatically. It’s changed. We’re talking here, 15/16 years, when I started. So, in those days, there was no social media or blogging or Instagram or the instant feed of the design. Back then, it was really the old fashioned way. Taking the pictures, and then downloading the pictures, and then the magazine would have those pictures, and they published them. Now, very different game. Everything loads instantly. We have the shows on the screen, straight away. Anybody who’s around that can watch it, Facebook Live streams, Instagram Live streams. With that, also the broad difference in the industry.
How do you stay on top of your game with that? Knowing who’s who and who’s the best blogger to celebrity to editor?
The industry is fairly small. The people are more or less the same, they just change publications. That’s on one side. Yes, you have new players in the game, but you just keep on top of it like everybody else. You read, you look at social media, who’s coming up, who’s doing the right thing, who’s doing the nice things about fashion. We also have a delegates list. So we have lists that is released, that’s given to me with all the internationals and all the locals, and every year or every season, I go through and see who has changed and who is new and who I have to get to know a little bit. So you do your research. There goes a couple of weeks before the event, where we literally just study, like you go to University.
What’s your biggest pinch-me moment?
There was few ’cause I’ve been involved with a lot of different Fashion Weeks over the years. I’ve been part of New York Fashion Week and Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Berlin, so there’s a lot of international stuff. I met a lot of really famous people, which is always very exciting. But, you know, as far as fashion, I think the moment with Anna Wintour was really, really special. That goes back to 2008 I think. I looked after her for about a day, a day and a half, and then we were running into each other throughout the week in New York and it was really cool. We were like buddies. We flirted a little bit.
It was fun. It was good.
Well everyone does want to be your best friend because they all want to get front row, that’s for sure.
It’s funny. I come to Sydney to do the Australian Fashion Week every year and it literally is, there’s a group of people that you never hear from until the week before Fashion Week.
“Hey buddy, how are you?” It’s like oh, Fashion Week’s coming up, yeah. It’s part of the game. It’s fun.
Any front row faux pas over the years?
Similarly to the previous questions, there’s so many. In general, some nights people can be quite nasty. A lot of people that don’t belong in the front row try to be in the front row, get a little bit aggressive at times. Verbally aggressive, not physically.
Yeah. You’ve seen it also, over the years. People sometimes stubborn, they think if they sit there and don’t move, then nothing’s gonna happen.
I try to control the front row. At the end of the day, it’s like “You’re gonna move.”
Does security ever get called?
No, I don’t think we ever needed to call security for seating. I have a chat and I kind of engage in a manner that, after 30 seconds or 40 seconds of talking to them, they realise that this is not the right thing to do.
All right. Well thank you so much. It’s such an insight into what you do and this whole week, so thank you so much.
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.
My Day 3 wrap video, interviewing the designers behind Macgraw and We are Kindred.
Beth and Tessa Macgraw first launched their label in 2012 and since then their brand has amassed a celeb following that includes Lorda, Coco Rocha and Karlie Kloss. They’ve won prestigious awards including The Tiffany & Co. National Designer Award, The BT Award, The Regional International Woolmark Prize and The Australian Fashion Laureate for Best Emerging Designer. Macgraw is now available worldwide via online retailers such as Farfetch and Moda Operandi, and department stores David Jones and Lane Crawford. I caught up with Beth and Tessa ahead of their show about how they got into fashion, what it’s like to work with a sibling and the challenges they’ve faced to get where they are.
Congratulations on this amazing collection. How has Fashion Week been for you?
Tessa: Well, actually I think we’re quite calm this year. It’s always got its challenges and issues, but I think we’re handling them pretty well so far.
Beth: We’re having a different approach.
Tessa: We’re trying a different approach,
Beth: Yeah. It’s fashion, it doesn’t need to be stressful, it should be fun. I mean we like all our models to smile and be in a good mood on the runway.
That’s something you don’t always see. Is that something you focus on?
Tessa: We do. Yeah, we cast a smile. Which is kind of tricky. It’s challenging.
The collection is absolutely stunning. Can you tell us a little bit about the it?
Beth: So, we showed our collection at a beautiful gothic revival match in Cold Swiss in Darling Point. And as soon as we saw the architecture of the building we were quite inspired and knew we wanted to entwine that and work that into our collection. So, we kind of created a collection around the woman who would have resided there in its heyday. So, she’s pretty fab. She likes to-
Tessa: There’s an opium room in there, in the house. She’s a bit naughty I guess.
What is your favourite thing about Fashion Week?
Beth: I really love how it brings everyone together and builds, like there’s a lot of pre-events and then we go to our friends’ showing. So we go to their shows and they get to come to ours. The other time we get to see each other is in Paris.
Tessa: I think there’s an energy, I think it’s nice that everyone comes together. It’s an exciting week.
How did you both get into fashion in the first place?
Tessa: I studied fashion design way back when. We’ve grown up loving fashion.
Was that always a plan, to be designers?
Tessa: Pretty much, and to work together. Some people think we’re mad.
As sisters, what is it like to work with family?
Beth: It’s both, I mean, we’re very much on each other’s wavelength, we have a lot of non-verbal communication.
Tessa: I mean we get along, we do like each other. It helps, it does help, and I don’t think we’d be doing it if we didn’t.
Beth: It’s very important, though, that we have the same aesthetic and we gravitate to the same fabrics and if we didn’t, because we are quite honest and verbal about it, it probably wouldn’t work. So you need the personality mix to be right as well.
It must be so nice working together.
Tessa: I trust her and that’s pretty important I think in this industry.
Beth: We get to do it together, like we’re constantly pinching ourselves. And we get to go to Paris and we’re on the plane together and we’re in the shows together and-
Tessa: It’s a lot of time together, it is.
You only started the label five years ago and already you’ve had such huge success in that short time frame. What has been your secret?
Beth: Same focus I think, not growing too quickly for us,… You make a lot of mistakes. and you don’t want to make them in the best store or on the biggest celebrity, and it’s good to just learn and, what are your strengths and what’s her aesthetic, it takes a few years to work that out I think.
Tessa: I think it’s hard work as well, you’ve gotta commit to work till late at night and just all the time, you know, you’ve gotta be passionate. You just gotta love it.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in the Australian fashion industry?
Beth: We make in Australia, it can be challenging, I won’t lie, but it’s, for us, really important to be mainly made in Australia. And we make some things in Italy and some fabrics in Switzerland and different places but, I think it’s nice and I think a lot of our stores preach it that it’s made in Australia, definitely.
Tessa: The challenge, I think in the Australian industry is that we’re sort of getting a bit smaller in production so making in Australia I think is probably a challenge sometimes.
Beth: Probably the other thing is, I mean, they’re all kind of Australia-focused answers for me, like the fact that we’re so far away, has its benefits but it also can be quite hard for the distance. If you’re from the U.K. and you have to go on the train over to Paris Fashion Week, it’s a much bigger effort for us when we’re outside of the business. And breaking in can be a little bit harder but Instagram and the internet definitely has helped as well.
We have noticed that that’s a huge impact.
Tessa: Absolutely. We’ve had stylists reaching out to us through direct Instagram. If they see us around then they will help.
You’ve dressed some pretty amazing people. What has been the biggest pinch-me moment?
Tessa: Julianne Moore I think we both agree? That was pretty cool. I just loved that.
How does that happen?
Beth: Organic. They actually held an event for us in London and the InStyle editor walked in and she was like, “I’m shooting Julianne tomorrow. I’m going to put that on her.”
You’ve also teamed up with Vittoria Coffee again to create these beautiful Fashion Series cups. Tell me a bit about the story behind these and your inspiration.
Beth: We were inspired by love and love letters.
Beth: Tess draws out all of our sketches, all the love hearts are all sketched out. They’re a little sinister, they’re black love hearts these ones. This one has a little loyal sash and he flies in love. And we love colours as well.
You’ve teamed up with them for a few years now. Why is that so important to you?
Tessa: I think it’s a nice alignment they have the Fashion Series and we do prints in-house and as I said we draw them. I think it just, it’s a nice fit really.
Beth: And they’re a family run business. They’re a lovely team the Vittoria family.
I saw the beautiful campaign. It was shot by fashion photographer Sonny Vandevelde. Tell me a little about that.
Beth: We love Sonny. He’s backstage at every one of our shows. He’s kind of part of the family as well. Yes I hear they’re going to be life size light boxes of us.
Beth: It will be down at Carriageworks for Fashion Week. And then Vittoria also did a really cool art installation which took a few of our items like our shoes, and love letters and created a beautiful piece of art. That was cool.
Tessa: It’s really pretty what they’ve done this year.
Where do you see Macgraw in five years time?
Beth: Good question. Well I think we’ll be probably in here. Maybe we’ll be in a different studio in this space.
Tessa: Maybe a bigger space, yeah? We’ll probably have a couple more staff members I hope. Yeah I mean we want to grow overseas a bit more don’t we?
Beth: Europe and the US are in our sights at the moment. We’re already in a few stores but just a bit more focus there.
Chatting to design duo Georgie and Lizzie Renkert.
Masters of floaty silhouettes, floral prints and embellishment, sisters Lizzie and Georgie Renkert established We Are Kindred in 2013. With Lizzie a former fashion magazine editor and Georgie previously in product development at Sportsgirl, the two combined their sartorial strengths to form the brand to great success. This year marks five years since they first debuted at Australian Fashion Week and it looks as if their bohemian meets sexy meets modern aesthetic continues to go from strength to strength. I caught up with Lizzie and Georgie ahead of their show to chat about the Kindred woman, how their designs have evolved and what we can expect from their new collection.
So it’s been a big couple of weeks for you guys.
Lizzie: It has. It’s been pretty hectic.
How have you been in the lead up to Fashion Week?
Lizzie: Well it’s stressful and everything but we kind of love it. It’s organised. It’s our favourite time of year.
Georgie: Yeah. To do this it’s constant.
Lizzie: But we start planning for Fashion Week before Christmas
Georgie: …before Christmas. So we actually design before Christmas.
Lizzie: I start to talk to sponsors and all those sorts of things before Christmas. So even though it’s really stressful…
Georgie: …It’s manageable.
Lizzie: I hate to think how it would be if you weren’t organised. That would just fill me with anxiety.
What do you love most about showing at Fashion Week?
Lizzie: I think it’s a really great way for us to showcase the brand in its entirety. Because where we tend to have more of an online presence, this a way for people to actually see it up close and personal. It’s a way for us to bring the vision of Kindred to life. So that’s why we love it so much, I think.
What can we expect to see on the runway this season?
Georgie: It’s extra pretty.
Lizzie: It’s so calming. The Kindred girl comes to us for beautiful prints.
Georgie: It’s actually sexy-pretty.
Lizzie: And yeah it’s actually a pretty aesthetic. [We know] they’re coming to us for florals and lace. We have some darker colours. We’ve got black [in the collection] which is still in a floral. We’ve got black in there these days.
Georgie: And the trimmings also.
Lizzie: Yeah. Beautiful intricate details. We’re primarily a dress brand, but we’re trying to train our customer to realise that yes, you can wear a really gorgeous dress that you might wear to a wedding or engagement party to the office with trainers if you want. You don’t have to compartmentalise your wardrobe so much. That’s certainly how we get dressed up. I look like I’m going to a wedding most days when I do the school drop off.
How has the Kindred Girl evolved over the years?
Lizzie: She’s kind of growing with us.
Georgie: Cooler, I think.
Lizzie: I feel like the Kindred girl is not really a particular age. It’s more of a mindset. We appeal to teenagers going to their formals, to mothers in their forties.
It’s an amazing market to have.
Lizzie: Yeah. So we do feel like mums and daughters go shopping at Kindred together and they can both find something.
How do you balance that?
Lizzie: Essentially, we’re always designing for us.
Georgie: For us. Pretty much.
Lizzie: I’m in my early forties, Georgie is in her thirties. The teams are in their twenties and thirties. So twenties, thirties, forties. So we don’t sit down and go oh what would mother of the bride want? What would a girl going to a school formal want? But it does seem to translate. Which is good. So it is quite a broad demographic. Which is what we want.
How did your fashion journey begin?
Georgie: Well, as kids we used to talk about it. We didn’t ever think it would actually.
Lizzie: And Georgie studied fashion design, and I worked in women’s magazines for ages. We both had very happy careers in the corporate world. Circumstances changed and we thought oh well let’s just [start a brand. It’s surprised me. I didn’t think that I would like working for myself this much, but Georgie’s got an 8-month old and I’ve got a six and a four-year-old.
Georgie: Flexibility is amazing.
Lizzie: As well as how amazing it is to be building a brand from scratch and to have an amazing team around us and all of those things. It’s just amazing to not have that mother guilt. Because we’re still doing both.
Georgie: Yeah. Pick up the kids at 3:00 if we have to. So that’s amazing
Lizzie: So that’s definitely important. But the journey, you know, we combined our skill sets.
Georgie: [It] happened organically.
Lizzie: We combined our skill sets, and thank god-
Georgie: There’s no way. I couldn’t have done it without her.
Lizzie: And I couldn’t have done it without you.
What’s it like working as sisters?
Georgie: Oh. It’s amazing.
Is it hard?
Lizzie: It’s great. We annoy each other a little bit sometimes. But not-
Georgie: You can kind of go …. So far.
Lizzie: And the big issues we always agree. Which is on the important things. We always agree. And because we’re sisters and we’re best friends. We just –
Georgie: In sync. We communicate very well.
Lizzie: She’s the only person I could do this with. (laughs)
Georgie: I know I’m the only person you could do this with. (laughs)
You teamed up with Vittoria Coffee again on their Fashion Series this year, which is exciting.
Lizzie: Yeah. Vittoria have been incredible to us. They started supporting us before we even launched actually.
Lizzie: They helped us with our launch party. They have a really great grasp on how the two industries can merge. They’ve been so supportive, and it’s really great to see something like we used to create in garments [on coffee cups] because we’re all print brand. We start every collection with our prints. That’s how we actually start designing. It kind of makes perfect sense for us that we’ve teamed up with a brand where the print is key.
What was the inspiration behind these prints on the cups?
Lizzie: The Kindred girl comes to us to feel pretty – when we got a pretty dress on when feeling good then-
Georgie: Then you feel better.
Lizzie: -much nicer people. And I think [our inspiration was] things like walking through the Parisian gardens. And it’s just really beautiful and pretty. And like yes you have your coffee and you can pick them up at your local coffee store. But then you bring them back-
Georgie: And put pens in them.
Lizzie: You can put pens in them on your desk or you can put flowers in them. They’re really beautiful.
As part of the Vittoria Coffee fashion series you also did the behind the scenes photo shoot with fashion photographer Sonny Vandevelde. What was that like?
Lizzie: I’ve known Sonny for years. Shooting backstage and everything. So when they were like oh yeah Sonny’s going to shoot. [I thought] Oh that’ll be fun. And he takes such gorgeous pictures.
Georgie: Was fun.
Lizzie: He takes such gorgeous pictures. But they’re all supermodels.
Georgie: Like having our pictures taken. It was actually amazing. We were like oh.
Lizzie: And because he’s used to shooting on the fly backstage, it was really —
Georgie: Jumping up and down.
Lizzie: But yeah it was great. It really captured a moment. It was nice.
I can’t wait to see your show.
Lizzie & Georgie: Thank you so much.
My Day 3 wrap, interviewing the designers behind Macgraw and We are Kindred.
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.
I first met journalist now author, Elle Halliwell when we worked together at The Sunday Telegraph. Given her writing talents it was no surprise to hear that Elle was releasing her own book, A Mother’s Choice. The inspiring story centres on Elle’s diagnosis with cancer in 2016 and not long after finding out she was pregnant with her first child. It was then that she had to make the impossible choice of having life-saving cancer treatment straight away or keeping her unborn baby. I recently caught up with Elle in Sydney to chat about how she feels sharing her story, dealing with motherhood and her illness and why she doesn’t really plan too far into the future anymore.
Congratulations on your book! Tell me the inspiration behind it.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with leukaemia. Chronic myeloid leukaemia. And then two days later, I found out that I was pregnant after taking a pregnancy test at home that I had lying around. That put me in a very rare group of people when I had to decide whether to keep my baby and delay the life-saving treatment that had come onto the market only about a decade before or terminate my child and take the drugs straight away.
Me and my husband had been wanting a baby and we were planning to start trying. So for us it was a bit of a miracle that we’d fallen pregnant because we weren’t trying. For it to come at such a terrible time was quite heartbreaking. And it took a lot of time and angst trying to decide what we were going to do. But in the end, I felt that if he could survive in a body that had cancer then I had to give the baby the benefit of the doubt and continue with the pregnancy for as long as I could.
And you know, he was a strong little baby. He beat the odds, and I guess I beat the odds as well. And we both came out of it well. A few months after I had him and was just settling into motherhood, I was approached and they asked me if I’d be willing to share my story with Australia and I said sure.
It was actually really cathartic for me to revisit all of those moments and relive them. Because I think when you’re in that moment, it can be quite emotional and you often can’t look at it from a different perspective. I’m really excited to now be able to share it with everybody.
What was it like when you had to make that choice of what to do?
Oh, it was so hard.
What went through your mind?
Is this going to kill me? Will this be the last chance I have to ever have a baby? You know, how is my family going to react when I told them that I’m going to try and keep the baby. That was a tough one.
How did they react?
Everyone was so supportive, which was great. But they were all a bit scared for me. They didn’t really know much about [the cancer] and I think the unknown was quite terrifying for everybody. But they respected mine and [my husband] Nick’s choices which I really appreciate. Having the support of family and work really made me feel confident with the choice that I made.
What motivated to keep you going through such a difficult time?
My baby. I thought, if he’s strong enough to stay there and fight, then I’m strong enough to fight for him. The more I grew, the more he grew and the longer the pregnancy went. It was like, the motherhood hormones kicked in and I just became a woman on a mission. It just became a lot easier to back up my decision.
I’m a completely different person. I don’t know whether that’s motherhood or also coming to terms with the cancer diagnosis. I think it’s a little bit of both. I think I’m a lot more sensitive than I was. But I’m also a lot stronger. I know myself more. I have stronger convictions, and I think that I’m more aligned with my values.
Was it hard to be so honest in your book?
Yes, it was like someone’s published my personal diary. I am really nervous about how people will respond to it. But I also feel proud of myself for pouring my heart out in these pages. And that’s just me in a nutshell. I think every one of my family members who has read the books says it’s me. It’s written very authentically. So I’m really proud of that.
How are you today?
I’ve reached a major molecular response, which is where the cancer levels are so low they’re nearly undetectable. So 0.0051. And that’s down from about I think 27 or 29 percent. So that’s kind of the percent of cancer cells that was in my body at any time. So that’s a real relief that the medication’s working.
Do you have to continue treatment?
Every three months I go to the doctor and I get tested. And every time I go I’m hopeful that I’m going to get [the result of] undetectable. And I haven’t yet. So that’s a bit disappointing. But I think this is my year where it’s going to be undetectable. And then once that happens then I can start to look forward to maybe trying to go off the drugs. That’s the plan.
Oh that’s amazing. You’re such an inspiration. I think this book is going to be such an inspiring story for everyone.
I hope so. I think it’s like, anyone who’s been a mum and has had cancer or even had someone who has cancer can relate to some of the feelings.
How do you juggle having a career and being a mum to a toddler?
It’s hard, as you know too well. And especially the days where I’m just so exhausted. The medication knocks me around a bit. But I’ve got great support. From family and friends and things like that. And I know my limits better now. If I’m overexerting myself I just have to stop. Those days where you just really start to feel like you can cope with it. You look at them or they do something that’s just so cute. They give you a hug or a kiss and it gives you this boost of energy and love and it makes it feel like everything is worth it.
You’ve had an amazing career on top of all of this, what has been your biggest career highlight?
I think it must be launching this book. It’s something that I never thought that I’d ever do. So that’s been really great. I mean, the circumstances around it aren’t ideal but I still feel it’s an achievement. Especially considering how I was feeling writing it. I think there’s so much more that I want to do. I I’m studying naturopathy and health coaching.
Tell me a bit about that.
Oh, I absolutely love it. It’s really tough, learning anatomy and physiology is just a whole new world for me. But it’s amazing. And I’m learning so much more about my own health, my own body. And I want to use that as a launch pad to make sure that me and my family are as healthy as possible. But also hopefully to be able to share what I’ve learnt with other women who are dealing with an illness or chronic illness and a new baby or dealing with motherhood and trying to balance that. And also maintain their own health and wellbeing.
Is that something that you want to focus more on, even though you’ve still got your career in journalism?
I’d love to be able to write a bit more about health and wellness. I’m going to hopefully use my writing and journalism skills but I just wanted to have a foundation of knowledge. And of course I love entertainment and fashion. It’s always going to be a big passion of mine. But this is a whole new world that’s opened up for me. Who knows if I can balance it all, if I can juggle it all, but you have to try, right?
What’s your number one styling tip? Especially for being a busy mum.
Having a great foundation wardrobe is key.
What’s in that foundation wardrobe?
It’s all very basic. I’ve pretty much got a uniform now. I’m a big fan of the uniform, and it’s generally a white or a blue shirt and black pants or black jeans. And the same colour t-shirts of grey, white and black. I really just interchange them all during the week. It just takes one more choice out of your day. So you don’t really have to think about it. Myy biggest mum hack is just having a really neutral wardrobe so that you can shop and change without walking out of the house and going oh my gosh, why am I wearing a green T-shirt with pink pants?!
What’s your key wardrobe essential?
A grey cashmere jumper.
What advice would you give if you met someone who was going down the same path as you were?
Accept help when it’s offered. That was one thing. I thought that I was invincible and that I didn’t need any help. But I did. And people are so willing to help you when you need it. So just say yes. Let people do your washing, you know, when you’re still in shock about being diagnosed. And let them make your dinner.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Five years’ time I see myself hopefully with another baby.
Is that on the horizon at all?
Maybe. If I can get down to undetectable that would be the dream…
It’s highly encouraged [to get down to undetectable] because the outcome of patients who stay on the medication longer have a better chance. So the longer I wait, the better. But you know, biological clock is also ticking, so we’ll have to figure it out. I might be able to try and go off them, and then have a baby and go back on them if my levels go up again. So it’s all very much a juggle. We’ll just have to take it as it comes.
But to be honest, I don’t look that far ahead anymore. I used to always think in 10 years’ time what am I going to be doing? And now I live very much week to week, month to month. And I think that’s what happens when all of a sudden your life can suddenly just go out of your hands. So I just feel a lot less in control of my destiny, and not in a bad way. But I’m just very much willing to just leave it in the hands of the universe.