We recently threw my mum a surprise birthday celebration and it was such an amazing night with my family. Mum had no idea and we picked up her up under the guise of going for a drive and grabbing coffee, but really we had booked a night at Crown Sydney and invited family and her closest friends for a dinner at Italian restaurant, Amare. Needless to say she was thoroughly surprised and I couldn’t think of a person more deserving of such a birthday celebration.
I wanted a great party dress for dinner and couldn’t look past the latest collection by Rachel Gilbert. I saw this mini dress and knew it would be perfect for the occasion. I love dresses that have a bit of a moment at the back and this design definitely delivered with the knotted back feature. The draping at the front is also elegant and I loved how it flared out into a halter neck with the wide straps. There’s also a subtle raised hem at the front which added an element of interest. The silhouette is also really flattering, and features internal boning which helps to streamline the shape. All in all, I highly recommend it if you’re looking for your next event look.
I wanted to keep things fairly simple with this look so opted for minimalist black Giuseppe Zanotti heels. The two-strap design blended seamlessly with the dress, while the crystal heel tied into the knotted feature at the back. I went for an up-do in this instance because when you have a bit of a showstopper detail at the back it has to be able to shine.
Credits: Dress, Rachel Gilbert; Heels (similar style here), Giuseppe Zanotti
This outfit from my time in London now seems like a lifetime ago, but it was such a fun party look I had to dedicate an outfit post to it. There’s something about the opportunity to get all dolled up while on holiday that’s extra special, even better when I get to fly the flag for an Aussie designer. I wore this to an event I was attending with my brother and sister-in-law and loved how feminine and party-ready it was. The gown is by Rachel Gilbert and is featured in their spring collection. The pastel pink hue is fun but what I loved most was the oversized ruffle detail. It was such a bold feature but had a lovely softness to it with its almost floral effect – it reminded me of the beautiful petals of a peony.
Of course with such a dress it’s all about considered accessories—pieces that will complement rather than overpower the dress. So I went with some sky high Jimmy Choo platform heels. With the metallic finish and the extra height, they were perfect for pairing with this gown. I also love the contrast between pink and red, so this garnet red Bulgari bag was the ideal piece to accompany me for the evening. The chain handle made it convenient to carry around but I could also wear it tucked under my arm like a clutch—a versatile detail that’s great for any event look.
Credits: Dress, Rachel Gilbert; Shoes, Jimmy Choo; Bag, Bulgari
It was my last day attending Royal Ascot and rather fittingly it was Ladies’ Day so I went all out and embraced a thoroughly feminine look. The summer weather called for something bright and bold, so this pastel blue dress by Rachel Gilbert was the perfect fit. What drew me to this dress is that it has a lovely softness to it, with the puffed sleeves and texture fabric, but the corset design gives it a bit of edge to avoid it becoming to saccharine. Also I do love dresses that also give consideration to the back design and in this instance the keyhole feature achieves a striking finish. While this straw boater was the ideal choice for Ladies’ Day with the cluster of florals peeking out from beneath the brim. It adds a prettiness to the look, but the boater silhouette still gives it some structure.
One of my favourite things about pulling together racewear is considering my jewellery options for my look. I was thoroughly spoilt for choice in this instance, as having been lucky enough to work with French jewellery house Chaumet for the last few years, I was able to select a few pieces from their collection to wear with this look. I opted for a few elements from the Josephine collection, which was inspired by the Empress Josephine. Each piece is designed to layer beautifully and features signature elements such as the aigrette and pear cut shape which are woven throughout the collection. I love the fact these pieces are so elegant and have a graceful feel to them, making them the perfect accoutrements for an event such as Royal Ascot.
After the year we’ve had it’s time to let off a little steam. I love getting dressed up for New Year’s Eve and always enjoy wearing a bold party dress and embracing beautiful statement pieces to help ring in the new year. I’ve been scouring my fave brands and I’ve come across some great options which are destined for many a party, whether it’s a December 31 soiree or beyond! This year, I’m finding myself gravitating towards pieces that I can dial up the glam on. Whether it’s in the detail, the silhouette or the textures used, these pieces have caught my eye and are currently in contention for my NYE party look. And since I’m showing you what’s on my wish list, tell me what you’re planning when it comes to your New Year’s Eve party look!
You can’t go wrong with an LBD when it comes to a NYE dress that you can wear beyond December 31. This Rachel Gilbert dress ticks all the boxes for me. It’s the ideal style if you want something a little more versatile. The streamlined silhouette, and the high neckline has a classic feel but the cut out detail adds a subtle sexy touch. You could easily change up the look and feel of this dress with a strategic change in accessories.
If I’m going to get all dolled up to welcome in the new year I may as well go all out! This embellished frock is a party dress personified. The sequins and the feather trim are playful and a helluva lot of fun. I like the nod to the 90s with the sleek silhouette, mini hemline and spaghetti straps, I could imagine Kate Moss wearing something similar back in the day. I’d dress it up with a gorgeous strappy heel and I’m so ready to farewell 2021!
If there’s anything that involves bows, I’m there. Rebecca Vallance is one of my go-to labels for events simply because the designs are always so polished, and incorporate a lot of fun details. The triple bow detail lifts this mini dress and adds some depth. I could see myself pairing this with some statement jewellery and killer heels, but beyond New Year’s Eve I could definitely roll it out again to wear to an event or two.
Talk about statement earrings! These disco inspired diamante earrings are the ideal standout accessories to add a special touch to a party look. I love how festive they are and they’re just the thing to liven up an outfit. I could wear these with an LBD to add a touch of glam, or pair them with a sparkly look to take it to next-level NYE attire status.
This bag is pretty much sold out everywhere, but a girl can hope! It’s a limited edition style released by Prada and encrusted with crystals which makes it destined for many a party. Sometimes you can wear a more pared back look but liven it up with statement accessories, and this is just the piece to do it.
Derby Day is always one of my favourite race day dress codes as black and white is always such a chic colour palette to work with. This year I wanted to combine the two hues, and this Rachel Gilbert dress was the perfect look for the occasion. It has a bit of a retro 60s vibe, which I love. The oversized bow and the strapless silhouette has a slightly coquettish feel to it, while the mini length combined with sheer stockings added an element of playfulness to the overall look.
A great headpiece is always a must and this stunning Dior headband with veil was the perfect addition to this look. The rest of my look incorporated monochromatic touches that had a touch of drama to them. The jewelled Miu Miu handbag, was the perfect diminutive size to complement the dress, and I also loved its feminine look. While I once again turned to Dior for my shoes. The ideal black and white heels to help tie this look together nicely.
Credits: Dress and stockings, Rachel Gilbert; Heels and headpiece, Dior; Bag, Miu Miu
Breakfast with fashion designer Rachel Gilbert at L’Americano Espresso Bar. Photo Dallas Kilponen
Australian fashion designer Rachel Gilbert sells her self-named designs in high-end boutiques and department stores including Harrods, Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue and David Jones. Intricate, hand-embellished designs are a hallmark of the label, renowned for its evening wear. Gilbert is married to television personality Tom Williams and the couple are expecting their second child in November. I caught up with Gilbert to chat about the secret to her success, motherhood and expanding her business.
Your brand seems to have recently taken a new direction. Tell me a bit about it.
Yes, I think [before] it was definitely a lot younger, as was I. Hemlines were a little bit shorter and necklines a little bit lower. So I think we’re just going for more of a mature look in evening wear. It is taking a bit more of a relaxed approach, so less embellishment. A lot of people are wearing separates as evening wears so it’s not quite traditional the way it was.
Is Australia your biggest market?
I would probably say 50-50, to be honest. International is a huge part of our business. We’ve been selling internationally for last five years now. So the Middle East is a huge market for us – especially all the beaded garments.
When you started out, did you ever imagine it would have the success you have today?
No, although I’m pretty determined. I don’t like to stop until I succeed at something. So I definitely had big dreams and big goals. But still to this day – I was in Bergdorf last week and seeing my name on the floor level with all those other designers – I feel quite proud.
Have you ever opened a magazine and been shocked to see a certain celebrity wearing your designs?
Definitely; I think when Heidi Klum was in one of our lace dresses. I really get more emotional seeing a stranger. If I’m out somewhere and I see someone wearing it, I feel like that’s more personal and a bit more shocking and surprising.
If you could dress any celebrity, who would it be?
I really like Charlize Theron. She always looks so elegant.
So many designers come and go. What is your secret to success?
I really try to focus on the business side of things. I’m definitely creative and I love designing but I think it’s really important to run a business and make sure you’re on top of it on things like accounting and sales. I never even finished high school, so when I started the business that kind of thing never really came to me. I had to learn all those different departments and operations and sales and had to learn it pretty quick. So I really invested the time and made sure that I never got too focused on the creative side. I really feel that I contributed to staying alive or staying in business.
You’re a successful businesswoman and a mum, how do you juggle it all?
I don’t think there is ever a balance. Everyone talks about that “balance”, but I still find it really quite hard. When I’m at work, I want to be with Storm, and when I’m with Storm I know how much work I’ve got to do. You’ve just got to find the median and do the best you can. To be honest, I find it a constant struggle. I obviously adore Storm, she is my No. 1 priority, but I appreciate having my own business and I enjoy it as well, so I don’t want to give that up.
I hear you are expecting No. 2!
Yes. It’s very exciting. I’m due in November, so it’s all becoming a reality now.
How are you feeling?
Really excited. I always wanted two children. But I know it will be quite a challenge. I thought I was busy now – I don’t know what I’m in for [laughs]!
Do you know what you are having, or are you tempted to find out?
No, I don’t know but I am tempted. I probably will, to be honest with you. But I don’t mind either way. I’ve got a sister, so I wouldn’t mind another girl. But it doesn’t bother me. I guess they choose you as well.
Is Tom a hands-on dad?
Yes, he is fantastic. He gets up and does all the late nights and early mornings. He’s right in there, very hands-on.
Does Storm recognise her dad when she sees him on TV?
She does. Only just recently. She see’s him and says, “Da da, da da.” It’s really cute.
Do you hope that your children follow in your or Tom’s footsteps?
I’d be happy with whatever they wanted to do. Fashion isn’t the easiest industry. So, maybe not. But if she wants to do it, that’s fine too. I just want her to do whatever makes her happy.
What do you do for fun as a family when you have time off?
We definitely like walking and going for breakfasts on Saturdays and pottering around the house. We’re quite chilled out. We like the simple things and spend a lot of time with our family, going away or to the farm or Palm Beach. It’s nice because with work you are always go, go, go all the time. It’s nice to kind of step back for a minute.
Where do you see you and your business in five years’ time?
I’d like to grow the business and get more stores and develop our business with David Jones as well. We’ve been with David Jones for a couple of years now. I’d like to see us internationally expand and have a store over there and maybe [a show at] Fashion Week as well.
What is next in the pipeline?
We’re really developing our bridal at the moment. Bridal is a huge part of our business. It wasn’t ever intended, it just happened quite naturally. I used to just do white gowns for my evening collection. And we’ve just designed an accessory line. So we’ve done shoes, veils, sashes, headbands and combs. It has been really exciting. So now we can offer that bridal suite and the bride can find the complete look.
If you weren’t doing fashion designing, what would you be doing?
I think interior [design]. I’d love to get into that a little bit more.