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Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: Victoria Lee

20th May, 2018

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.

Photography: Sophia Athas and Ash Larden

Fashion

Australian Fashion Week 2018 Day 5 Wrap Up

17th May, 2018

Fashion Week Five

My daily wrap up of the day that was at Australian Fashion Week.

Shows I attended: 10 Pieces

Location: Icebergs, Bondi Beach

Fave show: 10 pieces

Biggest trends I saw: Emerald green, monochrome, tailoring mixed with relaxed street wear vibes.

The highlight of the day: Watching 10 pieces with the backdrop of bondi; a pit stop at the Vittoria Coffee lounge interviewing the likes of Russh editor-in-chief Jess Blanch and Fashion Week seating director, Miro Kubicek.

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: Miro Kubicek, Seating Director, Australian Fashion Week

17th May, 2018

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.

Yeah!

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.

Really?

Yeah.

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.

Watch out!

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.

Really?

“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.

Really?

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.

Yeah.

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.

Miro: Thank you.

Photography: Sophia Athas and Ash Larden

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: Jess Blanch, Editor-in-Chief, RUSSH

17th May, 2018

Growing up on a farm in a small rural town in NSW, Jess Blanch grew up surrounded by fashion magazines and the images of photographerPeter Lindbergh. Having worked as a journalist at The Australian before making the move into magazines, the editor-in-chief of RUSSH magazine says she always dreamed of being a writer, and somehow “fell into” fashion. It seems a job she was destined for however, with over eight years and counting in the role. I caught up with Jess during Fashion Week to chat about the Australian design aesthetic, her favourite trends from the week and the show that really stood out for her…

What trends have really stood out to you?

One trend I really love is the oversized bag. I first saw it at the Camilla and Marc’s show and it was almost a moment of thank goodness now I can finally put all my things in the bag. I think there’s been a really soft, 90s thing going on which feels really quite fresh, and it obviously suits our lifestyle here. I love these 90s slip dresses and the way the coats are going over the top of them and knits are going over them, and unexpected colours like we saw before. There’s been a lot of green.

There has been a lot of green.

I think last year it was yellow; it’s almost like there’s just this kind of Pantone colour that everyone makes movement with. But I think also the trend is, what I’ve seen is a lot of streetwear. Everyone’s kind of doing their own interpretation of a Polo sweater and layering. And I think the nice thing this year is I feel that the brands are really sticking to what they do and maybe the trends are becoming less relevant.

What is Australia’s take on fashion? 

Obviously some trends are often set in Paris and Milan, but I think Australians are not designing that way. I think the designers here are very much global brands in their own right these days. They’re distributing direct to the likes of retailers like Net-A-Porter and Matches, and they travel so much. I think it’s really coming down to designing for a lifestyle, and that’s what I loved about the Romance [Was Born] show last night, because what they do so well, is they really turn their brand into culture. And it’s not about the pieces, it’s about the match of the music, with the performance, how they wear the clothes, the makeup that goes with that. It’s not just a collection that’s just about pieces. And I think that also Double Rainbouu did that really well, it was really nice to go to the Lansdowne, and what I loved about that show was particularly the casting, because the kids wearing the clothes are the ones that we see on the street. You go and get a coffee and you’re like, “who is that amazing boy?” And so it’s so nice to see them in that show, it’s very real. I guess it was a way to show what Sydney culture is about and how we live here.

Is that why Fashion Week is so important?

Fashion Week’s really important and I think for Sydney we’re really lucky, particularly at offsite shows, like Matches yesterday at Wylie Baths. We’ve got such a beautiful city and I think that it’s a great opportunity to show people these little pockets, the things that we know and love, and the collections. Obviously things in the lighter collection it’s a natural environment for it, so it’s good to see the week thriving.

What have been some of the highlight shows this week?

Well, I mentioned Romance last night and I loved that, because it was a real spectacle and it always is, and they have fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. I thought that Camilla and Marc show was super strong. It’s their 15th anniversary and I was really happy for them because the brand really evolved over the years and they’ve done a really great job of designing but also running a successful commercial brand and I think that’s really important. It is probably my highlight along with Romance. I’m looking forward to Chrisopher Esber tonight as well.

What does the RUSSH reader get out of Fashion Week?

I think RUSSH readers are very fashion savvy, when we talk about our audience, we often say that we’re the magazine that the influencers like to read, like Carmen Hamilton last night, she’s like “I’m a fan”. The RUSSH reader is very savvy, they know where things are being made, they really care who’s designing them, so they want Fashion Week to really show them new things, and kind of give them a deeper insight into the brands and the lifestyle behind the brands and who those designers are and where they’re getting their ideas and inspiration from. And that’s what we try and do, we don’t just report on looks, we actually try and report on the culture of the design sentiment and what’s happening at the time.

Have you always been interested in fashion?

No, first I’m interested in publishing, so I guess, looking back, I grew up in the country on a property. There’s a big gap in my family between myself and my siblings and I just had lots of fashion magazines in the house. So I think I just fell in love with the, yes it was the 80s and it was all Peter Lindbergh images, and I think I always just fell in love with that, the escape of fashion and that sense of the woman as well, and how fashion could make you feel. So I never planned to be in fashion, that was never my plan.

Oh really?

No, no, I want to be a writer. Sometimes I’m in my office and I’m like, “leave me alone, I just want to write!” Running a magazine is very different to that. But then I got into publishing and I actually started writing for The Australian newspaper as a journalist and I loved that and that sort of led to magazines and then finally the RUSSH opportunity came about and it just felt like a natural evolution for me. But I remember in the early days everyone was like, “fashion, how did that happen?”, I’m like, “I don’t know.” I just fell into it.

No, you’ve always been super stylish!

It’s nice of you to say that. Yeah, maybe I knew more; I learned by osmosis I guess. When I first began the editorship I really spent a lot of time travelling for the international fashion weeks and those weeks and those trips can sometimes be six weeks at a time, and you just take a lot in when you’re on the circuit. You’re like a sponge in your first few seasons. That was amazing experience.

What is the key to success when you’re an editor?

I think they key to success as an editor, or really anyone, is having great people around you. I’ve got a team that I really admire and respect. They’re just great people; they have great taste in music and food and everything that I love and share and I think that’s what makes me excited to come to the office every morning. It’s have such a nice environment and we all collaborate. It feels like a collaboration between all of us with our contributors. Whether they be models or artists that we’re working with, that’s probably the most exciting, fulfilling part of the job.

Who is the designer to watch?

Well, it’s not over yet. That’s a good question. A lot of people have been talking about Acler which is interesting. The NewGen show is coming up and I think that’s a really important one to watch because the ideas in a NewGen show are very fresh. They haven’t had that commercial rush and that’s always a good show  to see.

How do you approach Fashion Week as an editor?

A lot of people ask me “how many shows are you going to today?”, and I think, sometimes as an editor, it’s great to see the shows, but obviously we spread them out between our team. It’s really important for my Fashion Team to be there and seeing everything. But I really try and connect with the designers over the week and really find out what’s going on with them, spend some time with them. Sometimes it’s nice if there are after-show dinners and those kind of things happening, because it’s really good to see where they’re at. I think we’ve always done a good job of telling the designers’ stories, and that’s what I’m trying to learn about them during the week. Where are they going, what their inspirations are, and where they want to take their businesses.

What’s a day in the life of you?

During Fashion Week? Not a lot of sleep. I’ve got to say. I was woken up by a toddler at 5 this morning and I went to bed after midnight. Every year I’m like, “I’m gonna be super organised…” It’s always a lot of people to see. It’s a great week though. Sometimes you feel a bit superpowered in Fashion Week because you’re like I’ll have three hours of sleep and I’m not tired at all.

Well, you look amazing after having not much sleep. Thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Jess Blanch: Thanks so much, I appreciate it.

Photography: Sophia Athas and Ash Larden

Fashion, What I Wore

What I Wore: Australian Fashion Week 2018 Day 5

17th May, 2018

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

Photography: Sophia Athas

 

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: Roberta Pecoraro

16th May, 2018

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.

And do you get to work much with your sister [stylist, Jess Pecoraro]? I interviewed her earlier in the week.

I do, actually. Recently we’ve been working a lot together, which is nice. It’s so comfortable and relaxing on set with her, so, yeah. It’s lovely.

Amazing, well thank you so much. I can’t wait to see you walk in the show.

Thank you. I’m excited.

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: Pereira Fitzgerald

16th May, 2018

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.

Gemma: Thank you so much.

Bella: Thank you.

Fashion

Australian Fashion Week 2018 Day 3 Wrap Up

15th May, 2018

Fashion Week Five

My daily wrap up of the day that was at Australian Fashion Week.

Shows I attended: Macgraw, We Are Kindred, Mara & Mine, Pereira Fitzgerald, Emilia Wickstead

Locations: Macgraw at Swifts mansion in Darling Point; We Are Kindred, Mara & Mine and Pereira Fitzgerald at Carriageworks; Emilia Wickstead at Wylies Baths, Coogee,

Fave show: Pereira Fitzgerald. it was their debut collection and it was so wearable—very feminine yet understated, sophisticated and elegant.

Biggest trend I saw: feminine silhouettes, frills, sequins, shirting.

The highlight of the day: Macgraw at Swifts – such a stunning location that really brought the collection to life.

 

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: Macgraw

15th May, 2018

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.

Oh really?

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.

Oh amazing!

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.

 

Videography: Ash Larden 

Video brought to you by Vittoria Coffee. 

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate at Australian Fashion Week: We Are Kindred

15th May, 2018

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?

Georgie: No.

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)

Lizzie: Definitely.

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.

Georgie: Yeah.

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.

 

Videography: Ash Larden 

Video brought to you by Vittoria Coffee.