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AUSTRALIAN FASHION BEAUTY + LIFESTYLE


28 DEGREES BYRON BAY


28BYRONBAY.COM.AU


EDITOR / Claire Goldsworthy IMAGE / Peter Berzanskis

EDITOR’S LETTER

Deep down I’m a princess, but it conflicts with my values when ethical fashion is involved. On the one hand, I love sparkly and shiny things, big dresses and little details, but on the other, I don’t like to over-consume, I don’t like extravagance for the sake of it, and I’m an advocate of fashion for a purpose. But the latter doesn’t mean a girl still can’t dream. My mother has several photos of me as a child after I’d snuck into her makeup drawer and made a mess. I loved dressing up, donning red lipstick and pretending to be a princess and I don’t think it’s something any woman every truly grows out of. We all have our fantasies and dreams, and mine are simply all about fashion. The couture and bespoke world is one that has always fascinated me. Maybe because I can make my own clothes, I understand the time, love and dedication it takes to complete a handmade piece. Machines and multiples are of no use in the bespoke process. Slow, painstaking hours and a deep passion for the finished product are the tools

used in couture and tailor-made items, and it is this organic process that inspires me. The couture world is magical, and it’s where clothing does become art. Issue 03 of The Fashion Advocate pays homage to our local creators and makers who are slowly stitching the image of Australian couture and bespoke fashion together. Centuries old, the art of couture, bespoke and handmade fashion is driving the industry in Australia now more so than ever. As we become aware of the fashion industry and its impacts, we look to the brands who are creating and making differently. Dion Lee, Toni Maticevski and Carla Zampatti are the names the nation knows, but it’s the burgeoning brands in this issue that deserve the real spotlight. WEBSITE thefashionadvocate.com INSTAGRAM thefashionadvocate FACEBOOK fashionadvocate TWITTER thefashionadvoc


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contents 04 EDITOR’S LETTER Claire Goldsworthy 08 CONTRIBUTORS Advocates + friends 09 INDUSTRY INSIGHT Australian couture 10 CELEBRITY STYLIST Shannon Meddings 14 FASHION EDITORIAL Chris Smith 18 TEN QUESTIONS Marit Hamer 22 COUTURIERS Pat + George Georgiou 30 GEMMOLOGIST Tereena Lucas 34 GOOD STUFF Editor’s picks 36 AVID FOODIE Camilla Counsel 44 DREAMER Melanie Doncas 48 WONDER WOMAN Yolanda Finch 52 ILLUSTRATOR Estelle Michaelides

60 BESPOKE DESIGNER Josephine Bastone 66 FASHION EDITORIAL Belinda Matheson

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58 TRENDING Dalla Tela


NINA IS A CREATIVE AT HEART and is CAPTIVATED BY THE WORLD OF FASHION. NINA DE PIETRO Graphic designer.

ELIZABETH CAN’T HANDLE A POORLY MADE GARMENT AND SALIVATES OVER LUXE TEXTILES.

08 / CONTRIBUTORS

ELIZABETH GAO Contributing writer.

ELLA can be found painting or drawing, USUALLY WITH a coffee in hand. ELLA KATE THRUPP Contributing writer.

Carmela LOVES HOW FASHION IS ALWAYS CHANGING WITH NEW TRENDS POPPING Up. CARMELA MORALES Contributing writer.

Rosie has a healthy fascination with people, things, nature and life. ROSIE BALL Contributing writer.

when not working, emily freelances and works on her own fashion label. EMILY DE BONT-KIDD Contributing writer.


DECODING COUTURE

However, fashion knows no realms, and over the decades, the art of couture has flourished into a global spawning, and Europe, Britain, Asia and the United States all adopt the arcane status of couture. Now, the practice has gained recognition south of the equator in Australia. Australian designers are decoding the practice of high-end fashion, abandoning its preconceived notions and utilising contemporary influences, but the conventions of couture remain the same; to produce quality custom made garments. Australia has laid claim to some of the industry’s biggest names in recent times, like headliners Toni Maticevski, Carla Zampatti and Paolo Sabastian, but it is Sydney based designer Dion Lee who reflects the Australian interpretation of couture. After debuting his first collection at Australian Fashion Week in 2009, the eponymous label was met with critical acclaim and has fast reached global success with its use of innovative designs, tailoring and construction. Exhibiting an instinctual and intrinsic style which looks more ready-to-wear than made-to-measure, Lee’s collections portray a relaxed yet complex femininity. Minimalistic silhouettes and complex textile manipulations are

the alchemy to Lee’s brand, which seamlessly combines the dynamic Australian lifestyle with a technical approach to traditional tailoring. With an innovative mind, Dion Lee has concocted an image that bridges the gap between mainstream and high-end fashion, securing a niche in the couture industry both at home and abroad. Along with the likes of Maticevski, Zampatti and Sabastian, Dion Lee is finding ways to hero couture within Australia. Be it sustainable initiatives to combat negative environmental impacts, unique construction concepts, or newly discovered textile fabrications; our local designers are focusing on more than just the final result. Gone are the days of designing the most elaborate garments for the most extravagant of runway shows. It goes beyond that. It’s about an aesthetic that portrays explored methods of construction. It’s the process that goes into the execution of every garment. It’s about casting an image relatable to the wider community that embraces the cultural diversity found around us. These are the values and relationships that Australian designers hold of local fashion. With renewed attitudes from the veterans of our industry and our up and coming talent, the world of couture is shifting on Australian shores, exalting fresh life into a field that began in a different time and in a different land.

CONTRIBUTOR / Emily de Bont-Kidd.

09 / INDUSTRY INSIGHT

‘Couture’ is defined by its Parisian origin and refers to bespoke garments of a ‘high dressmaking’ or ‘high fashion’ nature. As the birthplace of Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli, France shaped the world of high-end fashion in the 20th century, and with revolutionary eyes, they forged a platform for a highly competitive and lucrative business.


INTERVIEW / Shannon Meddings CONTRIBUTOR / Emily de Bont-Kidd

shannon meddings

10 / SHANNON MEDDINGS

For many aspiring fashion creatives, the thought of being a sort-after stylist is an absolute dream, but for Shannon Meddings, it’s a reality. Born and raised in the South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Shannon has now established her career as a celebrity stylist, regularly dressing the likes of Keira Knightly and supermodel Lily Cole.


As a teen, Shannon had an unquenchable thirst for fashion. She recalls times when she would raid her sister’s wardrobe, admiring its high-end labels and dreaming of the day she would own a designer closet herself. Growing up in a ‘free’ household where style was embraced and creativity was encouraged, Shannon gravitated toward the inspired arts and studied Commercial Art at RMIT before venturing into photography.

said yes. I was making coffee as a studio assistant and one day, I opened the door for this gorgeous girl, and we were talking on the break and just chatting. When the shoot finished, I found out she was the daughter of Ronnie Wood, one of The Rolling Stones. I had just casually been talking with Leigh Wood, but if I weren’t so open to new things and putting myself out there, it wouldn’t have happened.”

“I went over to London, and that’s where I learnt about the industry. Back then, we were still shooting with film. Over the past ten years – going from film to digital and cameras to iPhones – it’s been crazy. With film, we had to work everything out mathematically before we’d shoot. The most incredibly talented photographers could make a grey sky look blue with the right lighting. It was incredible, and it was art.”

When it was time to return to home soil, Shannon relocated to Sydney where she began working on the Aldi catalogue styling with props and products, but the work and the pay was unfulfilling.

Sometimes she’s been lucky and sometimes she’s just worked hard, but Shannon has always been committed to growing and changing with the industry so that she’s never left behind.

“I craved a more creative outlet. I knew how to work, and I knew what to do. You have to make your own opportunities. I’m determined and willing to work hard, and because of that, I’ve been so busy. My experience in London helped a lot, but to be honest, Sydney has been amazing to me. It’s been interesting to see how the industry has evolved over time, it’s constantly changing, and now it’s all online, it’s all digital.”

“I made sure I said ‘yes’ to everything when I was working in London. There were shitty jobs, but I

In a world where stylists can exist solely on Instagram and every second blogger is a fashion


expert, Shannon stands tall in her profession, and while the digital age doesn’t consume her, she certainly embraces it. “Instagram is a necessity in the styling world; you can’t deny it. There are so many creative people getting involved with fashion through Instagram because it’s accessible, although it’s a world away from reality. Dressing a model with a good team of hair and makeup artists and a good photographer is very different to real life. A photo shoot has a team of people working on the one shot for hours on makeup, hair, styling (where clothes are usually pinned), lighting and working out the best angle. It’s not real life, but I love it, it’s fun, we’re creating art, and it’s a modern art form.” Moving from commercial work into television has also tested her talents, but Shannon has never struggled with the change. In 2015, she was cast as a head stylist for the Channel Nine hit show, The Voice, a project she was very proud to be a part of. She describes the role as completely different to that of freelancing; constant, fast and always changing.

every day through her work. “Fashion can be hard to navigate. People can get very overwhelmed with it all, and they just don’t know what to do, what to wear or where to shop, and that’s where I come in. Instead of going to buy a trending colour or popular piece, you’ve got to look past that. People can get so confused with fashion, and they either give up or end up wearing the wrong thing. Every person wants to feel great when they look in the mirror, so I simply help them feel confident, beautiful and in control of their wardrobes.” And although her day to day styling work is relatively routine, no two clients are ever quite the same. It’s hard work, but it is a rewarding career path and one that Shannon would recommend. “Work hard, have focus, put yourself out there and know the difference between fashion and style. Fashion is something that just happens; it’s a fact, it seasonal. Style is personal. It’s unique.”

The celebrity status of her clients has never been an issue for Shannon either, and she’s not one to be star-struck or bedazzled by the industry. Growing up around actors and musicians made her immune to their high-profile status, and her hustle and drive have always focussed her attention on the ‘art’ of her work, not the subjects of it. Shannon’s background in photography has also helped her career. Fashion photography is about representing the human form and translating it to a broad audience, and it is something that Shannon applies to her work on a daily basis as a personal stylist. When it comes to styling the everyday woman or man, though, Shannon believes there is no client she cannot dress. “My expertise lies in that I understand a lot of body shapes and the human form, and I know how to translate that so that my clients will always get the best fit, the right colours and a style that looks natural on them. It’s art, but it’s very numerical. You’ve got to see the bigger picture with all the elements together. When I reach the end goal with a client, they look at themselves in the mirror with love for themselves and their body, and that’s the rewarding part of my job. It’s fulfilling. What I love about personal styling, is that you can change someone’s life.” For those who still don’t understand the styling industry, it’s something that Shannon addresses

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14 / FASHION EDITORIAL


PHOTOGRAPHER Chris Smith LINGERIE Kat The Label MODEL Ally Mooney HMUA Melissa Vilamor


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shoot chris smith


18 / MARIT HAMER


TEN QUESTIONS / Marit Hamer

MARIT HAMER Some shun imperfections, but Marit Hamer adores them. Her love of natural stones, raw shapes and organic processes inspire her self-titled Melbourne based jewellery label, Marit Hamer.


Explain your brand to our readers? It began as a craving for something imperfect and one of a kind. Uniform perfection surrounds us in every aspect of our lives, but I appreciate the delicate beauty and irregularity of something made to change. Each Marit Hamer piece is a totem of sorts, wrapped in a casing that alters as it is worn, so it gradually becomes uniquely yours. I want to enable the affection felt for a well-worn shirt or a dog-eared old book that has been read a dozen times; an affection empowered by use and change. What led to the launching of your brand? It was a rather organic process. After completing my masters in architecture, I realised I had a love of making things with my hands and a dislike for the cold precision of computers. I had a lot of copper left over from a scale model I made for one of my architecture design projects, and I had recently found a piece of selenite at a market, so I decided to wrap it in copper and wear it. Every time I wore it, I would get several compliments, and my friends asked me to make them similar pendants. Eventually, the whole brand grew from there. Who or what influences you? My years studying architecture left me with a love of simplicity as my favourite architects employed restraint and used beautiful materials to create evocative space. I try to apply that same control to my work.

delicate and natural formation process, and it’s what makes each stone unique. Imperfect materials have a subtlety which is completely endearing. It gives them a character which I like to think is appreciated most by the individual who wears that stone. Why are you so passionate about local manufacturing? I’m lucky to be a part of an incredibly supportive group of local artists, makers and designers at the Rose St Artists’ Market and it has taught me to value the objects we consume. You see the passion and love that is behind each object, and it makes each piece unique in a way that buying from a global brand doesn’t come close to. What challenges do you face as an Australian made brand? People in Australia are fond of supporting local designers, but there is always a cheaper import available elsewhere, so a big challenge is getting people on board with making conscious decisions about where they purchase things from and who they choose to support. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? Geology rocks.

Describe a week in your shoes? It’s just rocks galore, visits to my suppliers and lots and lots of making. Every weekend I set up my stall at the Rose St Artists’ Market in Fitzroy where I get to spend time with such an amazing community of makers and designers and then it’s back to rocks the next day. Why do you like working with natural stones and crystals? My favourite part about them is discovering their differences, and I’m amazed by the astounding array of beautiful things created by nature. I love the unique quality this affords each piece, and I also leave the copper untreated so that it changes as it is worn. It gets a completely different lustre over time, making each piece more personal. Describe the process of an individual Marit Hamer piece? I spend hours at my rock supplier trawling through buckets to hand pick each stone. I then prep each piece, deciding whether it will be a ring or a pendant, and then finally I apply the copper over a five-hour period. Describe your relationship with imperfections? Imperfections are what make people and objects interesting. In stones, imperfections illustrate the

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INTERVIEW / Pat + George Georgiou CONTRIBUTOR / Rosie Ball

alexis george The right dress can be magical. Throughout history, dresses have bewitched us, stopped us in our tracks, caused a public dialogue and sometimes, even public dispute. Picture Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, swathed in billowing white silk over that iconic air vent, or Jennifer Lopez on the Grammy Awards red carpet in that plunging green Versace dress that left mouths gaping. Even Queen Victoria’s white lace and silk satin wedding gown sparked a fashion trend in 1840 that would go on to launch the entire Western tradition of bridal white. There’s no denying that the right dress, worn by the right woman, can get the whole world talking. And while it takes the right woman to bring a piece of clothing to life, it’s the designers and makers, the little elves working tirelessly and passionately behind the scenes, who are the real magicians. The practice of couture, otherwise known as haute couture, is a celebration of this magic, a commemoration of the power of the right dress. George Georgiou is one-half of South Australian husband and wife design duo Alexis George and he can testify to this. “A couture gown is a labour of love. The woman

lucky enough to wear it is wearing countless hours of expertise, love and creativity of many artisans. From the designer of the fabric, the embroiderer and the beader, to the designer of the gown, to the pattern maker, the cutter, the seamstress, the hand-finisher and the person giving it the final pressing. If there is no love and appreciation in that process, it is not couture.” While George runs the business side of the couture house, his wife Pat is the creative force behind each design, and she’s self-taught too. With a marriage spanning almost 50 years, theirs is a truly inspirational tale of mutual love, respect and passion for the craft, a symbiotic relationship that has driven Alexis George for nearly four fruitful decades. Italian-born Pat and Cypriot-born George met as teenagers in Adelaide in the late 60s and were immediately drawn together by their shared love of design. George was working in the photography industry, Pat was working in interior design, and both were frustrated by the lack of options Adelaide had to offer when it came to quality clothing. After marrying in the early 70s, the pair lived and worked in London before buying a VW camper to travel around the continent for two years. When


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they eventually returned to Australia, the desire to launch a fashion house was well and truly calling.

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“When we came back to Adelaide, we got our old jobs back, but we were very restless. Within a few months, I convinced Pat that her fashion ideas were good enough to produce commercially. With hardly any money we opened a shop, painted the walls and ceiling in black gloss, laid black carpet, and made black scaffolding for racks. We called the store and label ‘Scaggs’ after the 70’s R&B singer Boz Scaggs. Pat cut and made the clothes, and I was on the shop floor and sourced the fabrics. After 12 months and no lease, we were kicked out to make way for a new development. We decided to work from home and just wholesale our label. There was plenty of interest and lots of orders, but it was difficult getting paid. We gave up on wholesale and produced our designs for just one shop exclusively who paid regularly.” The birth of their first two children, Alexis and Micaela, eventually forced them to make some hardline decisions about the future of the label and their young family. “A small shop became available in the city, and the

asking price was $7000 for the key. We took out a bank loan, purchased the key and signed a lease. We changed the name of the label, and in August 1980, the Alexis George brand was born.” The dilemma of sourcing a steady income to sustain a label is no new phenomenon in the fashion industry. George tells how the beginnings of Alexis George were not without their trials and tribulations. “It was very tough. We did couture when the demand was there but supplemented our income by producing ready-to-wear pieces and wholesaling to a Double Bay store. Even today, the hardest part about running a couture label is the lack of demand and its financial viability. The general fashion public loves couture, but most don’t have the occasion to wear it or cannot justify paying such a high price for it unless of course, it’s bridal.” Like all artists, finding the perfect balance between this commercial requirement and one’s personal creative goals is an exceedingly delicate juggling process, sometimes to no ends. It’s the reason many Australian fashion houses close their doors year after year, and it makes the prospect of


venturing into fashion design certainly not for the faint-hearted. Despite their commercial success, George and Pat are no strangers to this struggle. “The women that have the need for couture and can afford it, usually celebrities, don’t buy the pieces, they want to borrow them. It’s an investment in PR that you can’t always afford to pay cash for. We still need to pay the staff and the mortgage. Yes, we still have a mortgage.” Nonetheless, George is adamant that their love for the craft is what keeps them going, and it has never been about making money, but about the art of it. Their lifelong dedication and deep passion have paid off, and the industry accolades prove it. The Alexis George mantelpiece is adorned with award titles, ‘Best Innovative Bridal’, ‘Best Evening Wear’, and the ‘Gold Award for Overall Best Designer in Australia’, the large trophies of which are still used as weights on the cutting table.

the right dress can be magicaL.

Then there are the celebrity endorsements; Pat’s creations have featured in Vogue and on the likes of Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue, Erin Wasson and Nicole Richie. The duo has even dressed former Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, which is one of George’s fondest moments. Although the star-studded memories are a highlight for the Alexis George brand, the individual journey of each couture gown is the real achievement. “When we create one gown and not a collection, we spend a few days playing with fabrics and trims, then a few days draping. The pattern maker spends a few days beginning the design of the body fit, and they’ll then start to cut it out. The seamstress may put part of it together in a day or so, and the designer might spend a few days fitting with the pattern maker and seamstress. Then, there’s more fitting and more adjusting. There could be days of hand beading or hand finishing and sometimes there might be two or three people working on the hem of the same dress at the same time. It’s difficult to estimate the time spent on each gown, depending on the complexity of the piece, but if one person did everything, it could stretch out to a month or two.” It’s a meticulous process that Pat and George have delivered into the next generation too. Their most recent venture Lexi Clothing is a collaboration with their son, Andros, and it offers a diffusion line of affordable ready-to-wear pieces for the modern woman. “Andros showed an interest in design from a young age. We’d been talking about starting a diffusion


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line for years, but couture never allows you the time to realise this. We began to discuss a new brand with Andros, and it seemed possible with his input. The design team for this brand is Pat, Andros and a brilliant young designer, Catherine.” Since launching, the burgeoning label has succeeded in leaps and bounds. In 2014, Lexi Clothing was selected to show at New York Fashion Week at Pier 59 Studios in Chelsea, where the first collection launched to international audiences. “We learnt many expensive lessons. It’s a fantastic, exciting brand but New York buyers thought it was too sexy for their customers. US celebrities love it, though, and they request pieces every day.” Celebrities such as Ciara, Rumer Willis, Christina Milian, and notable New York fashion blogger Lainy Hedaya are among this fan club, and they’ve all been snapped on the red carpet in Lexi Clothing designs. It looks like, for the foreseeable future, couture will continue to be as much a natural part of the Georgiou’s daily lives as eating, breathing and sleeping. If there’s one thing Pat and George Georgiou understand, it’s that the beauty of a magic trick is the final product, but the ropes and pulleys working behind the scenes must also be acknowledged. “To the public, a couture gown just appears like magic. You see the magician and the magician’s hat, and then he makes the rabbit appear. What you don’t see, is what goes on inside the hat which materialises the rabbit.” As for what drives the pair to continue with couture every day of their lives, George is resolved in their calling. “It’s for the love of beautiful fabric. The creative process is addictive; it keeps you present, and nothing else exists at that moment. It’s for the accomplishment, the legacy, and to realise and materialise a fantasy. It’s for the magic.”

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THE DRESS COLLECTIVE


THEDRESSCOLLECTIVE.COM


INTERVIEW / Tereena Lucas CONTRIBUTOR / Emily de Bont-Kidd

LUCA JOUEL Timeless, luxurious, nostalgic – these are the words that define Perth-based bespoke jewellery label, Luca Jouel.

Founder and designer Tereena Lucas has perfected her handcrafted pieces over the past decade, but her love of beautiful jewellery has been lifelong. Her earliest memories of gemstones came from her mother’s collection of fine jewellery. “I used to love it when she would get it all out and let me try it on. Lots of silver and sapphires, wide gold bands, gaudy cluster rings and drop earrings which went with her big 70s kaftans. She wrapped her treasured pieces in little Asian silk purses that she had bought in Malaysia where I was born, and kept it all in her lovely-smelling camphor wooden chest.” Despite her fondest memory and her young-found love of jewels, the road that led to the launch of Luca Jouel was not a straight one for Tereena. Before the brand’s conception in 2010, Tereena had a career as a naturopath, had achieved a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biotechnology and a Bachelor of Medical Science in Pathology, too. She also attained her qualifications as a gemmologist, diamond grader, and synthetic, imitation and treated gemstone appraiser while working for a prominent Australian jewellery evaluation laboratory. It was only after the arrival of her twin boys in 2006 that

Tereena increasingly felt the desire to create, and it was then that her journey as a self-taught fine jewellery designer began. Tereena’s primary aim has always been to create beautiful, quality jewellery which is made as ethically as humanly possible. All Luca Jouel materials and elements are sourced from companies who demonstrate the same commitment to ethical trading and who warrant their reputable supply chain and general business conduct. Disinterested in the fast fashion model, Tereena refuses to associate her brand with child labour, unethically sourced materials or unsustainable manufacturing practices. These consistent high standards underpin the brand’s success. “I am always monitoring our manufacturing and supply chain, and this means ongoing research and relationship building. We’ve avoided certain opportunities and have not made certain types of jewellery in the past because we were unable to do so in a manner that satisfied our moral criteria.” The jewellery trade is filled with contentious issues, especially those relating to impoverished countries and corrupt mining methods. To ensure her


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brand plays no part in this cycle, Tereena engages only with suppliers who are members of the Responsible Jewellery Council who follow sourcing procedures that are compliant with the LBMA Responsible Gold Guidance and OECD Due Diligence Guidance for the Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals. Tereena also purchases diamonds from legitimate DTC site holders who are not involved in funding conflict and who are in compliance with United Nations resolutions and the World Diamond Council’s System of Warranties. Tereena is determined to design only the best, and her humanitarian values, appreciation for the natural world and love of travel significantly influence the direction of her brand, right down to the descriptions of her collections. The brand name itself is also derived from a truncation of Tereena’s last name together with the traditional French word for jewel, and each collection is named after the unique story it possesses. The ‘Lilja’ collection was inspired by a family trip to Budapest in 2010. An alternative to the name ‘Lily’, the collection symbolically represents freedom and transformation. “Lilja evolved in my mind’s eye from the beautiful and dramatic landscapes, eclectic mix of architectural styles and the rich Hungarian history. Feminine, ornate, organic and bold – the essence of the modern queen – this sums up my ‘Reina’ collection. And the ‘Salut’ collection references French Art Deco, Arabic culture and 70s urban America, with subtle hints of natural elements. It is a salute to design, both man-made and natural.”

showcases brands who take pride in their craftsmanship, service and design while caring for their employees and suppliers, working hard to protect our planet’s people and resources. The Butterfly Mark Award is synonymous with luxury brands that care, and it is the sole trust mark that exists in the luxury industry today, recognised as a guarantee of commitment to sustainability. The Luca Jouel brand is also a member of The Ethical Fashion Forum, a not for profit network which focuses on social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry. Tereena’s passions to improve child welfare also see her brand support the Australian Childhood Foundation in their ongoing efforts to protect vulnerable children from the trauma of abuse, violence and neglect. With a distinctive aesthetic and proudly ethical business under her belt, Tereena is now about to launch her latest collection, ‘Little Luca’, which is somewhat an extension of the ‘Reina’ collection yet with a finer, more delicate appeal. ‘Little Luca’ features beautiful earrings, rings, necklaces and diamond bracelets designed for everyday love. Crafted in combinations of 18ct yellow and rose gold, palladium and silver, and set with the finest white diamonds, black diamonds, tanzanite and rubies, the collection epitomises the Luca Jouel woman: beautiful, complex, strong, natural, ethical and absolute.

Two of Tereena’s favourite pieces from these collections are the ‘Reina Nostalgia’, a pair of elegant necklaces in 18ct yellow and rose gold that showcase unusual and striking spotty diamond slices. Marrying the image of the diamonds with an overexposed photograph taken on a snow-filled evening in Salzburg, Tereena’s idea developed into two stunning pieces that emanate a very special old-worldly charm. “To my mind, each of the pendants looks like an antique window glass. I entered them into the 2014 International Design Awards as a first-time entry and was very happy to receive an Honourable Mention.” It’s not only the awards that she’s received either. Since the brand’s launch, Luca Jouel has been recognised for its commitment to an ethical business model and has been awarded the Butterfly Mark Award powered by Positive Luxury. Positive Luxury

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GOOD STUFF

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I have a soft spot for the finer things in life. At the moment I’m loving local brands with delicate details and decadent designs.

GRACE AND JAMES

AURA MAKEUP

Grace and James’ candles are hand-poured in Melbourne using natural ingredients like soy and coconut oil, and each signature size candle is double-wicked to burn for over 80 hours. Collaborating with some of Australia’s favourite artists and designers, the debut Grace and James range showcases exclusive prints and illustrations.

Aura Makeup offers superior beauty alternatives to chemical formulations. With artist-grade formulas and a luscious colour palette, the Sunshine Coast brand brings ethics back into the beauty bag. Vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably sourced, Aura Makeup is packed with natural, multi-beneficial ingredients to prime a flawless look.

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GRACE LOVES LACE

ALISON JACKSON

Queensland bespoke label, Grace Loves Lace, offers a range of couture gowns that appeal to bohemian brides. Specialising in handmade, luxurious wedding dresses made from only the finest French and European laces and silks, Grace Loves Lace is the only boutique bridal destination you’ll need to visit to find your dream gypsy wedding gown.

Alison Jackson is a Canberra based silversmith who combines experience with strong technical skills, creative vision and a passion for making. Her range includes jewellery, tableware and large scale installations. Beautiful skills are paired with industrial processes and highly customised tooling to result in delicate brilliance.

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INTERVIEW / Camilla Counsel CONTRIBUTOR / Rosie Ball

Camilla Counsel A fashionable feast

Fashion and food. Most of us would agree that the two aren’t the best match when it comes to fitting into our favourite dress, yet they are simultaneously astonishing and delightful. To see My Kitchen Rules 2015 Semi-Finalist Camilla Counsel build her empire across these two very areas, proves that fashion and food can go hand in hand. As we get to know the Melbourne socialite, one thing makes itself abundantly clear: Camilla is a contradiction unto herself. She’s a cook, a socialite, an ardent lover of rich, butter-heavy French cuisine and an advocate of figure-hugging Aurelio Costarella gowns. She’s a ‘society girl’ and a compassionate lifestyle spirit guide, and while it’s easy for outsiders to gape in awe at the how and why of it all, it never gets too much for Camilla. For her, it’s all about balance and discipline. “I think my love of cooking (or just food in general) and my love of fashion intersect with a crash. My

love of food and eating hinders my love of fashion because the more I eat, the less of my clothing I fit into! It’s about trying to find the perfect balance between the two. When I’m cooking, I place emphasis on ‘more is more’, whereas in fashion, ‘less is more’ is much more my style.” The secret behind the balancing act of her two passions is finding an equilibrium between contrasting forces – simple and complex, heavy and light – a point of harmony that complements each element, be it with accessories or flavours. This balance is an innate understanding that Camilla seems to have in spades and an idea that feels so intrinsically tied to the modern Australian lifestyle. “I love how Australian fashion compliments the wearer and doesn’t overpower them. Australian fashion is also incredibly varied and covers so many individual styles, from the eclectic vintage grunge style of Melbourne, the Ralph Lauren-esque


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PHOTOGRAPHER / Darren Wood

style of Sydney, to the popular ‘Gypset’ style we see from Australian beach-side designers. The beauty of your personality and the complexity of Australian glamour is exuded through what you wear and through an effortless style that compliments, rather than hides, your beauty.” Classicism, elegance, femininity and a delicate attention to detail have become a trademark for Camilla when it comes to her consistently polished appearance. “I think my mother does help a lot in this area. I grew up hearing, ‘Pull your hair off your face!’ along with other countless parental nags to keep my appearance tidy. I think that taught me to make myself look presentable at all times. I would often hear the lines, ‘You’re not going out in that, are you?’ or ‘I don’t like how you’ve put that top with that skirt!’ It might sound discouraging, but it was really helpful having someone at home critiquing your look before you leave the door.” There’s also an undeniable European influence in the way that Camilla presents herself to the world. Even with makeup on, she remains fresh-faced and natural at glamorous red carpet events, galas and ceremonies. It is reminiscent of the age-old ‘French girl beauty secret’ of minimal makeup, putting on just enough to make it look like you’re done, but not overdone. When she was 21, Camilla spent a year experiencing Paris, and it held a lasting impact. “My time in Paris had a huge effect on my approach to fashion, food and lifestyle. In fashion, I learnt that simple and classic outfits are the most beautiful. Classic elegance is not just reserved for elderly ladies in their Chanel tweed suits; it is something you exude in the way you present and carry yourself. You can look just as elegant and beautiful in a pair of jeans and crisp shirt as you could in a Dior dress. What I learnt most about cooking in Paris was much the same; focus on celebrating simplicity with fresh and natural ingredients, and be heavy-handed with the butter!” Of course, you can’t be a socialite without some level of city-pride, but despite her annual global travels and her love of foreign foods, Camilla is a Melbourne girl at heart. “Melbourne’s cultural scene is perpetually exciting. There are always fabulous new restaurants to

STYLIST / Lacey Savell


HAIR / Craig Hislop

MUA / Emily D’Aprano


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IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE and DISCIPLINE.

try, gorgeous new retail stores to visit or worthy charitable initiatives to engage with. Melbourne continually inspires me to be a part of the cultural scene, and I think this relationship is fostered by my genuine curiosity and love of sharing my experiences and the best of what Melbourne has to offer.” It’s a love that she isn’t afraid to share with the world, regularly posting her experiences on social media, often snapped perusing in local boutiques such as Camelia and Eliza Baker, or providing loyal support to Australian brands such as Maya McQueen. “With an increasingly demanding industry and pressure from overseas brands, high import taxes and online shopping, it is essential to support and protect our local retailers and designers. One of my most prominent style inspirations is Christine Barro. If you haven’t visited her store, Christine, in the Melbourne CBD, I highly suggest you do! Christine is one of the most knowledgeable people in the Australian fashion industry.”

Food and fashion aside, perhaps what is most striking about Camilla is the way in which she has shed the role she portrayed on our television screens in 2015. A closer look at her website or Instagram feed won’t reveal the ‘conceited’ or ‘catty’ persona that she and partner Ash Pollard became notorious for on My Kitchen Rules. What you will find, though, is a modern young woman who is living a happy life, wining, dining, hiking, travelling and frequenting red carpet events. Most importantly, she’s down to earth and real about it all. “Let’s just say I very quickly put on a casual 9kg during my time in France and loved every minute of it.”

WEBSITE camillacounsel.com INSTAGRAM camilla.counsel FACEBOOK camilla.counsel


INTERVIEW / Melanie Doncas CONTRIBUTOR / Ella Kate Thrupp

WHIM ONLINE

Armed with a Diploma of Journalism, a Bachelor of Creative Writing and a mind full of inspiration, Melanie Doncas launched her business, Whim Online Magazine in 2013. Now, it’s a popular blog and digital magazine dedicated to dreamy and whimsical photography, fashion and art. “Whim originally started as just a blog, but I also had plans to branch into a digital magazine and released the first issue within just three months. The online magazine side of Whim allows photographic content to be presented in a more traditional format, whereas the blog is updated almost daily and gives readers regular, more varied content.” With an impressive list of brands, artists and creative individuals in her repertoire, Melanie’s collaborative network casts a vast and vibrant web. “I am incredibly lucky to know so many talented hair and makeup artists, photographers and fashion designers who want to share their work with

Whim. I’m blown away by the calibre of the submissions I receive.” Across both the blog and digital magazine, there’s a common theme of fantasy and femininity, a dreamlike aesthetic and a romanticised touch. With an entrancing and enchanting appeal, Whim offers a brief escape into a beautiful, fairylike realm. “I love seeing gorgeous garments presented in beautiful ways. I think an entire outfit or even a single piece can communicate so many things, and when you combine this with a visual medium such as photography, it takes it all to a whole new level.” Melanie has a growing list of favourite fashion photographers, a list that she finds tough to narrow down. Names like Ashley Holloway, Brenda Waworga, Alana Taylor, Stefanie Vallen and Vivienne Mok all take precedence among her top picks, although she professes there’s many more. Her favourite shoots are also those which she


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46 / MELANIE DONCAS


attends herself, witnessing the talent and production first-hand as each project evolves. “One photo shoot, in particular, was a beautiful collaboration with the fashion label I Found Lucy, photographed in my favourite botanic gardens by Alana Taylor. It was mesmerising to see it all in action.” On the topic of staying relevant in an industry that is ever evolving, Melanie makes sure she constantly refers to visually consuming content that demonstrates unique talent. “If Whim continues to showcase the inspirational work of creatives from all around the world, it remains up to date. My goal has always been to inspire readers, but this year I’ll be trying to motivate readers with more helpful and fun ‘how to’ type pieces for their creative journeys.” For those looking to follow the same path, Melanie admits that the most common piece of advice is usually the most accurate. “Just start whatever it is you dream of doing. There’s no point putting anything off because we often learn the most through experience. I didn’t know anything about blogging or running an online publication, but over time I started to learn more through trial and error.”

WEBSITE whimmagazine.com INSTAGRAM whimmagazine FACEBOOK whim-online-magazine


INTERVIEW / Yolanda Finch EDITOR / Claire Goldsworthy

YOLANDA FINCH Asking Yolanda Finch to describe to her job is like watching the first five minutes of In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye. Much like the way Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington laugh at the same question and struggle to define their duties in fashion, Yolanda giggles her way through describing her average week as Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) General Manager, Program & Operations. “The whole programming team is designed to facilitate interesting conversations in the contemporary fashion space, and I oversee it and steer it in its general direction. Honestly, there’s a brief version of what I do and a very long version.”

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Although she’d never say the words herself, Yolanda is crucial to the Festival’s operation and success, overseeing planning, program content, creative production and direction, marketing, branding and commercial partners, and that’s just the start. While the full fashion program itself runs over three weeks in March, Yolanda’s calendar is filled year-round, and she spends the other 49 weeks in preparation mode. It’s the most commonly asked question of the programming team, and it’s become the office joke, but it’s a constantly evolving

planning process 365 days of the year. “People ask all the time what we do for the rest of the year outside of the Festival, but there is no down time. Think about how long it takes to organise a wedding, now organise 30 weddings in one week, mix 100 sponsors in, manage 120 designers to design your dress, add 100,000 guests and make it about what your guests want to do instead of what you want to do. That’s the easiest way to explain it! We produce 30 or so events ourselves, but we also have an umbrella program of over 100 more, and we have strict obligations around OHS and a plethora of legal, contractual and safety standards to be on top of. There’s a lot of human resources required year-round.” Even if you’re not a fashion buff, anyone could appreciate the staffing, organisation, extensive planning and impact the Festival has on a local and international scale for the Australian industry. One of the Festival’s primary goals is to contribute to the economy, and it has had a long successful history of doing so. “We don’t just facilitate jobs in the fashion space. It takes a lot of different people to push the whole event forward, and a lot of individuals with different skills and backgrounds and that’s what I enjoy.


I love the detail. When you see that shiny moment in the end, it’s the result of the work behind the scenes that make it all worthwhile. The shows are just the tip of a pyramid that’s much more intricate as you delve deeper, and I love being a part of that. It’s really special.” Yolanda speaks of the Festival like a family, and it’s because she’s been involved with it for nearly 15 years. 2017 marks the celebration of the Festival’s 21st year in March and Yolanda’s role has seen its fair share of growth and change. When she looks back at how the Festival has evolved over two decades, she laughs as though she’s telling funny stories about her own child at their 21st. “I remember the early days when Miranda Kerr walked; she was just a baby then. The noughties were an interesting time for us! Everything was so different, but we have to remember that our past isn’t daggy, it’s just what it was at the time. Models were stopping and doing three pose shifts at the end of the runway, whereas now they wouldn’t even be hired if they did that. It’s just trends.” Approaching the Festival’s milestone 21st year has impacted the direction of content too, because while she appreciates what has come and gone in fashion, Yolanda doesn’t dwell on the past.

“We’ve realised that looking backwards is not that useful when you’re in the business of presenting the best of a moment in time, so we focus on what’s ahead for 2017. You’ve always got to respect your predecessors and what they’ve done and their building blocks, but in fashion, you must look forward. We have to acknowledge what has come before, but what we present here and now, needs to be the future.” It’s this attitude of constant progression and Yolanda’s thirst for innovation that propels the Festival forward as the country’s premier fashion event, but having a commercial mind helps too. Yolanda balances her outlook to ensure she involves grass roots local labels through to globally recognised brands. “The industry is commercially driven now, so we need to find innovative ways to marry the creative and commercial world and deliver it in a way that thousands of people can simultaneously connect with. We have a CEO who is incredibly strong, and as 2IC, it’s my job to turn his vision into reality. The Festival is massive, there’s always new stakeholders, designers and partners and you have to be flexible. We’re very firm in our vision, and every single person plays an important part in keeping it together. The Festival is one big creative ship that


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THERE’S SOMETHING MAGICAL ABOUT A FASHION RUNWAy.


everyone is on, but a lot of different people do the paddling that keeps that ship sailing.” And thousands of people do become connected each year through the Festival because there’s something in the program that appeals to everyone. The 2017 program highlights the various elements of ‘fashion life’ from shopping and styling, to beauty and grooming, and not all events are traditional runways either. “Everything that is fashion and everything that you usually incorporate into your daily life, you can engage with throughout VAMFF. It’s fashion, and it’s fun. A lot our new events have an engaging community feel, and it’s fresh. Hopefully, people come annually, but if they haven’t come before, they’ll enjoy it because it’s inviting this year. We want different people to enjoy it too because not everyone is a fashion nut like us, but we’re conscious of delivering events that offer something for all kinds of people to be involved in.”

name of Australian fashion. “There’s something magical about a fashion runway that you can’t replicate in other ways. You’re not telling the same story at a cocktail party or a showroom or a gallery, as you are with a runway show. A runway show articulates what a brand is all about, what it stands for. Fashion is all about telling a story, and the 21st annual VAMFF tells the best one yet. It’s a true fashion lover’s feast of activities packed in over 19 days with 30 runways, 40 arts activities, loads of free events and the best pop-up entertainment precinct in town at the Melbourne Museum Plaza from 14-19 March.”

This ‘all sorts of people’ inclusive nature is an important detail to remember too. Underneath the glitz and glam of it all, the models and the makeup, the excitement and the bright lights, fashion is an intrinsic part of our culture, and it’s a reflection of the time. Whether you think you’re into fashion or not, clothing is something that we all engage with every single day of our lives, and VAMFF offers an annual platform on which to document it. “VAMFF happens every year, it is part of our identity, part of our culture, and the Festival offers a moment in time where fashion designers have a place to be seen and heard. If you want to put an identity on something, an Australian fashion identity, you must have a dedicated location and time where it is carved out as part of what your community does. If VAMFF didn’t exist, everyone would be fighting for their own space individually, but this way, all Australian fashion designers hop on board the platform and have a stronger voice together. The Festival is a place for all to say, ‘This is the sum of what we are, a sum of all of our diverse parts’, and it’s much easier to make that statement together than trying to fight for it individually.” At 21 years old, VAMFF is only young, especially when compared to the likes of Paris or Milan Fashion Week, but it’s beyond its years in value and positive impact in the fashion world. Every movement needs to have a beacon, and that’s what VAMFF is. Despite the general stigma surrounding fashion and those who work in it, there’s not a shred of arrogance about VAMFF. It’s just a lot of people working with a lot of integrity all in the

WEBSITE vamff.com.au INSTAGRAM vamff FACEBOOK melbournefashionfestival


INTERVIEW / Estelle Michaelides EDITOR / Claire Goldsworthy

ESTELLE MICHAELIDES

Estelle Michaelides is a style maven. She can throw on a pair of high-waisted vintage striped pants, a clashing designer top, chunky heels and a statement pair of earrings all in five minutes and look like she’s been in wardrobe prep for two hours. When Estelle is involved, pyjamas transform from shabby to chic, common faux-pas pieces become trendy again, and the ordinary becomes unique. Her organic relationship with fashion stems from an early age, but after studying Fashion Design at RMIT in Melbourne and Majoring in Fashion Illustration, her stylish career path was paved. “I adore every aspect that creates the symphony of a garment from the design, textiles and pattern making to the production, but merging my love for fashion with art is my true love. I believe fashion illustration is a craft that can be educated but not qualified. Art is instinctive, pure and comes from an authentic part of an individual’s being. I recall drawing fashion on my bedroom wall as a kid, super young!” It’s a passion that has been prevalent throughout her life, so the launch of her own business, The

Bespoke Illustrator, in 2015 was a long-awaited move. Working from her home studio, she divides her time between motherhood and her artistic work, but the seemingly overnight success since launching less than two years ago has in fact been years in the making. “People assume I’ve just popped out of nowhere and have found instant success, but I’ve devoted my entire working life to the fashion industry, spanning 20 years thus far. My return to fashion illustration in 2015 occurred because I found myself struggling with pregnancy. My personal form of meditation is drawing, so I picked up a pad and pencil and began drawing again. When I illustrate, I am removed from this world and travel to my ‘happy place’ where everything is quiet and still and for that moment I am one, whole and pure.” The way she describes her creative process is equally as compelling as her art, and her ornate vision and self-submission to the moment perfectly orchestrate the depth of Estelle’s work. “When I’m illustrating, I’m in a world where time is silenced, senses are heightened, and the only


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Follow your own intuition. relationship I have is the one I am sharing with my art. I believe this is part of the success of my business because my clients know that when they buy an illustration from me, they are buying a little piece of my soul.” Estelle also finds the time alongside The Bespoke Illustrator to run another business, The Estelle Report, a fashion blog and digital diary of her daily outfits. An average week for Estelle working on the two includes a myriad of tasks; meeting up with designers, planning photo shoots, working on commissioned pieces, sourcing accessories, meetings with her photographer Kayla Piccolo, updating her blog and squeezing in clients. She even manages to book in live illustration sessions at local Melbourne fashion events every few weeks. It may sound like a heavy workload and a stressful role running her two businesses in conjunction with the daily monumental commitments of motherhood, but Estelle wouldn’t have it any other way. “The honest truth is, I thrive on being creative. I’d be like a wounded bird unable to fly without all these creative portals. I started my blog as I wanted to celebrate local designers. We have so many of them, and sadly they’re drowned out by all the large conglomerate companies landing on our shores and saturating the market with their fast fashion. I’m not certain what’s happened to the fashion industry, but it’s making me uneasy. It saddens me to see the industry prostituted by large companies who have no respect for the ethics and history of the industry. Since when do new collections come out every week? It’s ridiculous! This, in turn, makes consumers thirsty for more with little understanding and respect for what they’re purchasing, wearing and discarding a few weeks later.”

Estelle’s appreciation of traditional garment making methods and her love of organic processes flow through from The Estelle Report into her workspace at The Bespoke Illustrator. The way in which she approaches each illustration is much the same way her favourite designers approach local manufacturing: unhurried and with intent. “Everything I do is so old school. My illustrations are all done with classic brushes and paper, and I do absolutely no digital reworking – although that may have something to do with the fact that I’m technically challenged – but it’s mostly because I want to honour arts and traditions that are slowly dying. My blog celebrates the freethinkers and mavericks of the fashion industry, the artisans that still make their patterns by hand and manufacture their pieces locally, and those who have an indepth understanding for textiles. That is so key!” It may be a dying practice, but the plight isn’t enough to deter Estelle (or us for that matter), and she uses her illustrations and blog to communicate the issue in a positive manner. It’s a slow movement, but there are signs of a gradual shift and a growing appreciation for the designers and industry game changers who act with positive change in mind. “The best piece of advice I can give is to follow your own intuition; it will never fail you. Celebrate yourself as an authentic, beautiful individual. Tell your own story through the clothes you wear and when you buy that entire ensemble at H&M, think about the message it says about you.” SHOP thebespokeillustrator.com INSTAGRAM the.bespoke.illustrator FACEBOOK the.bespoke.illustrator


58 / TRENDING


DALLA TELA LUXURY SILK SCARVES Dalla Tela, meaning ‘from the canvas’, is a collection of three digitally printed silk scarves created to showcase the beauty and vibrancy of the Italian landscape. Each design has evolved from an original canvas painting to serve as a celebration of three destinations: Toscana, Amalfi and Cinque Terre. Designer Nina De Pietro was inspired by her travels through Italy and transformed her collection of photographs into works of art. The result is a set of three Australian made scarves featuring manipulated prints of her bold and vibrant brush strokes. The debut Dalla Tela collection shares a glimpse into Italy’s picturesque countryside. WEBSITE dallatela.com INSTAGRAM dalla.tela FACEBOOK dallatela


INTERVIEW / Josephine Romeo Bastone CONTRIBUTOR / Carmela Morales

romeo bastone Josephine Romeo Bastone’s name is widely known within the bridal couture industry and for a good reason.

Her designer bridal brand, Romeo Bastone Couture, is distinguished by its timeless, elegant and luxurious gowns and it is renowned for its long list of national awards and accolades. Josephine’s attraction to bespoke bridal couture began at an early age when her mother taught couture techniques in Italy. Fashion had always been a part of her family, so much so, that Josephine’s mother operated straight from her bedroom. She often woke up and fell asleep to the sound of sewing machines, and at the early age of 11, Josephine was already helping her mother in the bespoke process. “My mother was brilliant, so it’s always been in the family. In fact, I’m still sewing with her Consew machine which she gave me when I was about 12 years old. You can’t find them anywhere anymore; it’s vintage. She’s always been very encouraging over the years.” After being taught the foundations of pattern making the way they were taught to her mother in the 1950s, Josephine completed a Bachelor of Arts (Fashion) at RMIT in Melbourne. She had briefly considered pursuing criminal law, but after encouragement and support from her parents who knew Josephine was a born designer, she pursued the

path of fashion. When she established Romeo Bastone Couture in March 1991, Josephine admits that the first few years were a little difficult. Of course, this is something that all entrepreneurs experience in new business regardless of the industry, but for the painstaking art of couture, she was faced with difficulties that were of a more detailed nature. At the time, 90 per cent of the industry was bespoke couture, and 10 per cent was imported fashion, so the competition was fierce. Josephine quickly learnt that survival was about establishing a name and creating a unique aesthetic, so each Romeo Bastone Couture gown was, and will always be, designed and created in genuine, old-fashioned and bespoke ways. This signature look of elegance, perfection and delicate harmony is what raises the bar within the Romeo Bastone Couture house. Gowns aren’t only gorgeous, but they consider practicality and comfortability so that brides can focus on their special day instead of the sometimes-difficult details of their dress. “It’s like building a home. If you haven’t built your foundation right to start with and then you build


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62 / ROMEO BASTONE COUTURE


further on top of that foundation, it’s going to collapse. And the same applies to couture dress making; you start to get flaws. So, to me, it’s about the perfect fit.” Josephine’s detailed and precise process ensures the highest quality, and it also means a myriad of duties. A typical week can include consultations, fittings (which are scheduled weeks, months, and years in advance), emails, phone calls and hours in her workroom, which she more affectionately refers to as her ‘heaven haven’. It’s where she spends 85% of her time, toiling on designs, surrounded by visual inspiration of style icons Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, who remind her of the beauty of simplicity. Although she’s used a mix of synthetic materials in the past, Josephine now only uses silk and imported French lace, and despite the shift in fabrics or the slight change in trends over the years, Romeo Bastone Couture has always operated with the utmost professionalism. She’s no stranger to the occasional ‘bridezilla’, or the difficult-than-most couture client, but Josephine is gentle in her approach and caters to each bride. She lovingly refers to her clients as her ‘girls’ and makes sure that they’re all given the full

and memorable experience of seeing their dream gown come to life. “We discuss things and sometimes achieve the right design quickly, but sometimes we need to change things, a few times. We go through each element of the dress with a fine-tooth comb, making sure we consider what suits each woman and what doesn’t. But most women, within half an hour, know what their perfect dress will look like.” Josephine’s three-step ‘dream gown design’ process starts from the minute a bride-to-be walks into her couture showroom. The atmosphere is homely, filled with a sense of high-end elegance yet a natural comfort, and it is this harmonious balance that calms what is usually a stressful process. Each gown begins with the consideration of body shape, because no matter the fabric, the colour or the finish, each gown must first suit the body. Details such as French lace and pearl beading come into play, as do Baroque decorations and princess lines, but as a trained couture designer, Josephine considers each wish of each client while always staying true to her refined brand image. “It’s about finding a harmonious balance between the body and the dress because at the end of the


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A bride needs to be a confident woman wearing a unique gown, not the other way around. day, a bride needs to be a confident woman wearing a unique gown – not the other way around.”

collections, but in the end, the dress must cater to the individual bride.

When it comes to the Australian couture industry, Josephine understands widespread exposure is every bit as important as brand integrity, but often the two aren’t achieved equally, and it’s a lingering fear that the industry will slowly decline because of this.

It’s no surprise that Romeo Bastone Couture has won numerous awards from the Australian Bridal Industry Academy (ABIA), or that the label has been inducted into the ABIA Hall of Fame. Josephine’s designs have even been called ‘couture works of art’, yet, as proud as she is of her accolades, Josephine remains incredibly humble.

“There’s so much talent here in Australia, and the fashion industry is phenomenal, but it takes people like myself to lift it up and maintain the standards of bespoke couture. I’m not huge with publicity or advertising, or the dollar value of it, but I’ve always looked at sustainability. The business must sustain itself, and at the same time, I have to enjoy it. And I do, it’s an experience. My girls love dealing with me one on one. That’s my thing, that’s how it’s always been and how it always will be.” With over a quarter of a century of experience in the industry as a bespoke designer, Josephine has learnt many lessons, one of which is that fashion inevitably changes and that the key to anything, is progression. No two dresses that Josephine designs are ever the same. They may take inspiration from one another or other dresses in her

“I would never define my gowns as ‘couture works of art’, but, they have been coined that, yes. I always think a person’s merit comes from how other people describe you, rather than how you describe yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, don’t think of it as work. Think, ‘You’re going to go there, and you’re going to have fun’, and with this attitude, I can’t complain. This is not work. I love it.” What you see is what you get with Josephine Bastone: a dedicated designer and the promise of the perfect wedding gown. SHOP romeobastone.com.au INSTAGRAM romeobastonecouture FACEBOOK romeobastonecouture


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PHOTOGRAPHER Belinda Matheson Photography

MUA Lyndsey Ann Moody


DESIGNERS Melinda Audesho Couture + Feathers By Faith

MODEL Shanelle Chase


LET IGBY PRODUCTIONS ‘CREATE THE WOW’ AT YOUR NEXT EVENT


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The Fashion Advocate Issue 03 COUTURE  

To buy your own hardcopy, head to www.thefashionadvocate.com. Issue 03 of The Fashion Advocate magazine pays homage to our local creators a...

The Fashion Advocate Issue 03 COUTURE  

To buy your own hardcopy, head to www.thefashionadvocate.com. Issue 03 of The Fashion Advocate magazine pays homage to our local creators a...

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