On the corner of Gore and Webb Street in Fitzroy, there is a small continental style edifice with wooden French doors as its entrance. It’s neighbours are homes displaying the finest Victorian architecture and guarded by historic preservation. What this small building on the corner of Gore and Webb Street once was, I have no idea (and if someone could tell me I’d be so chuffed), but I do know at present it houses one of Melbourne’s most gifted designers, Nevada Duffy.
Nevada’s designs favour somewhat of a sartorial cross pollination between unrestrained liberty to the cultivated theatrical. As a true artisan, it’s clear to see there is so much of Nevada’s story in her work; her history, her polished knowledge on traditional costumes and true couturier and of course, her surroundings. Fitzroy, the mecca district of Melbourne, where the bohemians meet with the cosmopolitans and where the wild meet with the glossy, it’s all infused in her work.
I love how artisans can manifest their surroundings into their designs. Mostly it’s an unconscious movement, purely occurring through personal evolution. And so it seems the thread of Nevada’s environment is woven in each of her designs; the linen apron dress that is easy fitting and unbound much like the free spirited, free thinker, to her shirt with large neck bow made from imported silk much like the sophisticated spirit. Her designs are as much about her love for style, cuts and textiles as they are about her placement in the world.
To view more of Nevada’s work please visit: http://www.nevadaduffy.com
KARA BAKER COUTURE
You know when you love someone so deeply and emphatically that even saying ‘I LOVE YOU’ just won’t quite convey the breadth of your fiery love? Well as I sit here with laptop in lap I am altogether stumped at how I can impart my sentiment towards Kara Baker’s couture pieces much the same way.
What words do I use that will have the power to pop from this screen and make you feel a pang in your heart as you understand the sartorial brilliance of this couturier? Are there even any words that would be so impactful?
Brooding over my ability to make this post worthy I’ll add a photo here for now…
Being invited to view Kara’s latest collection in her studio I felt like Charlie after he found the golden ticket. My eyes were ravenous, pulsating with a want for more couture genius. Vintage silk crepe de chine, silk foil and vintage cotton turned into billowing sleeves, ethereal ruffles, dramatic bows, crisp pleats, kimono sleeves… aaah the wonderment was endless. Estelle, stop! Now breathe.
Designers, much like artists must share themselves with their designs. Their emotional backstory must be translated through each stitch making their work unrestrained, poignant and contemplative. This alone is an art but Kara shares herself with each one of her pieces.
This is one of the many layers of being a successful and accomplished couturier. Kara Baker, you are a rarity and a true inspiration.
For more information on Kara’s work please head to:
(Kara, thank you for welcoming both Kayla and I into your studio and giving us the very gracious liberty to photograph in it)
Travelling to the Preston Zly studio with my car brimming with all the pieces we were about to shoot, I started creating ensembles in my head and with that came a feeling of exhilaration. We were about to create something special! Apparel by Erik Yvon, footwear by Preston Zly and clutches by Roosters Rook… and the buzz factor, they’re all Melbourne artisans!
This amalgam of local artists is what I live for (OK, a tad dramatic) as I believe in them independently and hope that together we can create a commanding link, arm in arm… or just like those friendship chains we use to make out of paper, but not out of paper!
Why would a merge of three local, independent artists sing in harmony at an instance? Because ultimately and fundamentally their design ethos is exactly the same. Their passions render them hope, their hope prompts courage and their courage gives life to freedom to speak through their art. It is here where we, the onlookers see designs that are enterprising and perceptive, alive and visually empowering.
No matter how varied the visions are their core design truth is all the same and that shines through. It may be subtle but it’s what allows them to speak to one another in harmony.
They’re just beautiful pieces made from the same thread of passion for an art.
Roosters Rook clutches are made from sustainable, recycled timber.
Erik Yvon uses a local printer to create original printed fabrics.
Quite extraordinary to think Preston Zly have been creating footwear for twenty years, though it’s no surprise given the fact their shoes are like orthopaedics. They’ve spent years developing and dedicating to their footwear making them the best interpretation of comfort and design.
For more information:
Erik Yvon- http://www.erik-yvon.com
Preston Zly- http://www.prestonzly.com
Roosters Rook- http://www.roostersrook.com.au
42 Railway Avenue, East Ringwood, Victoria
Ph: (03) 98768922
I recall as a child I’d love visiting my grandparents as my pappou (grandfather) would always spoil me with a visit to their local Milk Bar (which conveniently for me was situated directly across the road from their house) to buy me a bag of mixed lollies for twenty cents. The store owner knew us by name and would always throw in a few extra bullets, sherbets and freckles.
Store owners knowing us by name was what we knew growing up. I know this makes me sound as though I was born in 1908 but it was in the 80’s! Sadly I have seen the slow demise of small businesses and personal customer attention as we are catapulted into an ever revolving rotunda of buy-use-throw-buy-use-throw and sold to us by living robots.
Here’s the great news; there are still small businesses in existence, operated by store owners who genuinely smile when you walk into their store and after a few visits will know you by name.
Railway Bizarre is one of these businesses and store owner, Branka greets each customer with such a sprightly countenance that you can’t help but to get caught up in her reverie.
Branka’s store is vintage utopia, I’m almost convinced the heavens open up and I can hear James Brown’s “Get Up Sex Machine” crooning from the skies as soon as I walk in! Six rooms filled with twinkling, glistening jewels, clothing, bags, shoes, furniture and homewares from all eras…. and somehow Branka has a mental inventory of every item!
I was so thrilled when Branka agreed to me styling pieces from her store for this shoot, although in her beautiful, humble tone couldn’t understand why we would want to! Why WOULDN’T we?!
Thank you, Branka
All pieces featured are available to purchase at Railway Bizarre.
The Bespoke Illustrator ties: all three ties featured are available for purchase online at http://www.thebespokeillustrator.com
MELBOURNE SPRING FASHION WEEK
WHAT I WORE
FEATURING ANASTASIA LA FEY
When I went to pick up this sumptuous wool cashmere cape (with original 1940’s buttons) from designer, Anastasia La Fey she looked tired. That kind of tired reserved for a mother who has been up all night with her child (I should know!). When I asked her if she was ok she answered with “I’ve been up for eighteen hours trying to finish this cape.”
EIGHTEEN HOURS…. STRAIGHT! It then came clear to me that her love and dedication to her craft is quite the same as that of a mother’s love for her child. So surrendering to sleepless nights is simply what you do.
However, those eighteen hours in the design and construction of this cape is but a few grains in its coming to life hourglass. Eighty hours plus to be exact! How is this so? Only a true couturier would know it can take this long to create a true couture garment.
To give you a little insight; Anastasia cuts the cloth and HANDTACKS the entire garment together (including the lining) to be sure that it’s perfect in the actual fabric. As pieces are put together, tailoring stay stitches are stitched through the wool cashmere to prevent any stretching or warping of the cloth – these remain throughout the make of the garment and are only removed right at the end. And it goes on for eighty odd hours!
I do hope this will give you a new/renewed appreciation for a craft that should be treasured, honoured and supported before its time runs out.
For more information on Anastasia La Fey visit http://www.anastasialafey.com
Sidenote: Shoes by Preston Zly (look out for the feature I’ll be doing on them shortly). Clutch by Micky In The Van. Sunglasses by Karen Walker.
FEATURING ANDREA NICHOLSON
When someone talks about wearable art, this is what they mean! This polka dot dress by designer, Andrea Nicholson is a sculptural-wearable art-fashion banquet!
MELBOURNE SPRING FASHION WEEK
WHAT I WORE
I consider this outfit somewhat fashion alchemy, converting basic pieces into a gold ensemble. It mixes and melts down every basic element that I adore to create a fashion elixir! We have a lace hemmed slip from Peter Alexander, a Stussy tee, a men’s pyjama shirt from Target and a men’s blazer from Jack London. See, and who said fashion and science don’t work together?!
MELBOURNE SPRING FASHION WEEK
WHAT I WORE
When you finally understand how empowering dressing to your authentic self can be you become an infallible self oracle. There is no wrong and you have branded yourself a self appointed creator of style. Done deal!
Who told me to wear an Adidas bolero designed for the grit of a gridiron field with a sultry, cascading maxi skirt? ME! Why? Because I wanted to! Simple and once again, done deal!
Fashion dances with your emotions. It can make you feel spirited so why wouldn’t you embrace it? It’s cheaper than therapy!
Skirt by State Of Georgia http://www.stateofgeorgia.com
Sunglasses by Karen Walker http://www.karenwalker.com
Footwear by Cheap Monday http://www.cheapmonday.com
MELBOURNE SPRING FASHION WEEK
WHAT I WORE
Melbourne’s winter chill most certainly didn’t rain on MSFW’s opening parade! This is the first year I went to the opening night and I loved it! That beautiful, eager anticipation of fashion, glorious fashion animated the audience, bystanders and anyone else caught up in the dazzle. It reminded me very much of the Jean Paul Gaultier show I went to in Paris. It was simply electric and I revelled in the same excitement last night. A beautiful chaos.
Still with an icy winter sting in the air I decided to keep warm but look utmost fashionable in an Andrea Nicholson duster coat. You know I have a penchant for all coats, but I truly believe this coat was made for me, like I was Andrea’s muse when she made it (even though she had no idea who the hell I was!). However, upon speaking to Andrea and getting to know her I am starting to think it was made for me as we are so alike in so many ways. When I asked Andrea to give me a quote on her style her response was “volume with funk, no zips, no buttons, no fuss. Easy as with plenty of ‘LOOK AT ME!'” … yup, see, this quote could have totally come out of my mouth!
The coat is made from wool/cashmere and has a gorgeous little detail on the inside; a bird print made from Dutch wax print. A limited edition piece that would remain timeless and ever stylish no matter the era or present trend. It would be remiss of me not to show you various angles of the coat as the way it drapes is heaven, its construction is exquisite and the shades of design detail is simply sublime.
The second event we attended on the night was Erik Yvon’s launch of his Spring/Summer collection, Gang Gang. What a treat to have Erik go through his collection with me. If you have some time, I implore you to visit his pop up shop at RMIT, Building 80, shop 2, level 2.
Side note: my shoes are Marc Jacobs
For more information on Andrea’s work visit: http://www.andreanicholsondesigns.com
For more information on Erik’s work visit: http://www.erik-yvon.com
Have you ever watched an artist paint and be so taken by how they surrender to their art that you get lost in their world? You ask yourself “where are they?” as you know the artist is not present with you. They’re not! They’re in a world where time is silenced, senses are heightened and the only relationship they have is the one they are sharing with their art.
As artists, designers share the same experience when they are creating and I’ve been fortunate enough to see designer, Jason Grech conversing with his art on a few occasions (of course he had no idea I was watching!). I was captured in his reverie. His body was here but his mind was with his art. What is that place like? Was the fabric talking to him, was he listening to the nuances of the design, was he waltzing with his passions and loves?
I understood his soul had drifted to another sphere, giving breath to his creations and allowing his sartorial story come to life.
So to have worn one of Jason’s haute couture gowns I knew I was wearing a tapestry of his vision, his heritage and his perennial passion for his art, and damn it felt so good!
A special thank you to Anastasia La Fey for the black headpiece and The Human Chameleon for the tartan headpiece. And a super special thank you to my friend, Marianne (www.esmeandthelaneway.com) who modelled with me.
Kelly Thompson recently posted a great article on how to colour up your basics. She hilariously wrote “so you got swept up in that monochrome fashion movement, you found that ‘perfect’ white tee, created that capsule wardrobe and read all there is to know about elusive French style… but now when you open your wardrobe each item looks the same, you look the same and all the people around you look exactly the same, thank God you’re the funny one right?”
She knew I’d pipe up after reading her post and right she was! There’s two things that I’m ardently passionate about when it comes to fashion; 1- ensuring the clothes you wear celebrate your authentic self and not swayed by fleeting, ridiculous mode movements and 2- are they made ethically?
I do want to clarify something, I love wearing black, white and shades of grey. Worn well with pure intent and they can look crisp, striking and abstractly beautiful in their primary form. My gripe is when the term ‘monochrome’ becomes so overused that Google uses it as an example when it explains the definition of ‘bastardised’ (please don’t google bastardised) and when it becomes just as cliché as matcha smoothies (what the hell is that anyway?!) and Coachella.
Why I am pointing this out in a post for Birgitta Helmerson? Leave me alone, it’s my introduction!!!
Here is how Birgitta Helmerson is woven in this thread; Melbourne based designer, Birgitta manufactures all her garments and quite often upcycles vintage fabrics and my favourite concept, recycles blankets turning them into winter coats. An ethically aware designer who does away with the ‘supermarket’ system where we are indoctrinated to the belief that fast fashion is great fashion. It is not!
Birgitta’s blanket coats are the makings of a fashion revolution; unique, one of a kind couture garments that honour the industry and the world we live in. I have to admit, there was something quite special wearing one of Birgitta’s blanket coats knowing the sentiment and love in its coming to life.
So here is where I talk about monochrome worn the ‘right way’. As featured in my pics, I’m wearing a skirt handmade by Birgitta. It’s black and white! It’s beautiful! Why? Because the fabric she used is textile heaven; textured jacquard that has a delicious weight to it and is ready to embrace any style you throw at it! I teamed it up with a tee from Erik Yvon (our next designer we’ll be featuring on the blog).
Though you have all become accustomed to seeing me wear colour and lots of it, I also know this black and white ensemble remains true to me.
STATE OF GEORGIA
When I opened my store, The Estelle Store back in 2008 I vividly recall being shown a label that went by the name of State Of Georgia. The fashion rep did her usual ‘song and dance’ to back up the labels collection but she faded into the distance as I was taken to Olivia Newton John’s Xanadu fantasia land where all things sparkled and glistened; I found my fashion happy place and State Of Georgia was my fashion mystic who took me there.
To this day, State Of Georgia is still one of my kindred labels and I’m even more fortunate now to call Georgia Hall (designer behind the label) one of my friends.
So what is it about a certain label that beguiles us, entoils us in its fashion web and takes us to our ‘Xanadu land’? If I muse over Georgia’s collections I am moved, evoked by feelings of freedom, expression, joy and spirit. So this is what it is, a label needs to speak to us directly, remove us from our inadequacies and show us paths to freedom. A label needs to tell us “I’ve designed this with courage therefore I expect you to wear it with the same sentiment… damn it!”
State Of Georgia’s pieces are all this; spirited, liberating, joyous, and garnered by Georgia’s love for the playful, the girlish vintage and you have a label that’s quite special and one that will always speak to my fashion heart.
What a treat to have had the doors open to Gwendolynn’s archival collections and given free reign to style them with my own visionarypalette.
You’d be forgiven if you thought this heavily beaded gown was right off a Parisian haute couture runway. With notes of grandeur and nuances of regal opulence Gwendolynn gowns take us to a magical faraway land. However, designer, Gwendolynn Burkin is a Melbourne based designer…. magical land, no less!
Gwendolynn is a designer close to my heart as we are akin with our design ethos. She is guided by intuition, evoked by passion and surrenders herself to a love that is not swayed by trends and seasonal modes. So what we have is an undiluted artisan who shows us heart in each one of her pieces.
Although Gwendolynn’s gowns appeal mostly to brides she didn’t flinch when I told her I’d love to adapt her pieces into a street style landscape for our photoshoot, (thank you!).
Maryann Talia Pau made these earrings for me using traditional Samoan weaving techniques. Similar to Gwendolynn, Maryann’s art is her language, it speaks of her hopes, her loves and dreams. Perhaps this is why the fusion of both designers pieces which are so vividly contrasting, style together so harmoniously.
Its not hard to spot a Keegan piece in a crowd. Identified by a signature design tenor, Keegan Hunt’s pieces are bewitching in their minimalistic design. Clever artisan techniques married with clever choices of fabrics and you know why Keegan has established a name for herself in the industry.
Keegan’s studio/store at 386 Queens Parade, North Fitzroy invites her customers to get an insight to the “behind the scenes” of what it takes to design, cut and construct a garment. This clever layout of work room meets retail store allows for a deeper understanding and appreciation for well made, beautifully tailored apparel. It’s time more of us were educated on this so we can pursue the goal of supporting our local craftsmen. A visit is a must!
To find out more and view Keegan’s latest collection please visit http://www.keeganthelabel.com.au
Wearing: Lois Hazel trench coat, Micky In The Van pant, vintage sunglasses from Che Eyewear, Kenokkorn Lamlert earrings.
To have a read through Lois Hazel’s past work vitae you will be nothing short of impressed, if not a tad envious. From refining her craft at New York’s design house, Marchesa to further flourishing her skills in haute couture in Paris, it’s an honour to have Lois back in Melbourne and treated to her wears.
It’s clear to see that all of Lois’s past experiences, lessons and encounters have fermented their place in her designs. Rich in knowledge, her designs are refined, crisp, poignant in detail and deeply expressive in their simple lines. But don’t be mistaken, they are far from simple pieces. To the trained eye, Lois’s designs are like a fashion symphony.
To find out more about Lois Hazel or shop her pieces just head to http://www.loishazel.com
Wearing: Lois Hazel pant, Micky In The Van top, Karen Walker sunglasses, Kanokkorn Lamlert earrings, Vans sneakers.
Wearing: Alice Edgeley shirt, Micky In The Van pant, Cassia clutch, What About Wolf earrings, Karen Walker sunglasses.
Bringing her past work experience as a costumier into her designs, Alice Edgeley has crafted a signature design style. It’s theatrical, it’s fashion phonetic, it’s brave and delicate, kitch and glamorous.
What thrills me most about Edgeley’s designs is that they’re open to interpretation. There’s no right or wrong way of wearing her pieces. They’re a celebration of everything I love about fashion; though each piece is beautiful as it is, it also lends itself as a canvas to tell a story about the wearer. Wear it as you wish, just own it! Her signature quilted turban would have to be my favourite piece and I would gladly rock it with a pair of jeans and tank.
To find out more about Alice’s work just head to http://www.edgeley.com.au
Wearing: Alice Edgeley peignoir, turban and belt, Ziggy Denim jeans and Pirdy earrings.
Kathryn Jamieson is the creative genius behind Gun Shy. High end faux fur jackets and coats not for the faint hearted.
I recall Kathryn once saying that when Gun Shy walks down the street people stop, mouths drop and stare. Onlookers are mesmerised as they watch this furry beauty walk by, and this is one reason why she creates her crowd stopping pieces.
Needless to say, this was the common reaction I received whilst shooting this coat on the back streets of Fitzroy. I love that bypasses were dazzled by the abundance of fluff and colour.
To view and purchase pieces from Kathryn’s latest collection, head to http://www.gunshy.com.au
Wearing Gun Shy faux fur coat, Karen Walker sunglasses and Each To Own earrings.