Interviews

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INTERVIEW WITH DANICA ERARD – CREATOR OF THE WORLD’S FIRST 3D PRINTED HEADPIECE

Thanks to Danica Erard, high tech has met hats as she is responsible for creating the world’s first 3D printed headpiece. The hot pink architectural design made its debut atop the head of one of Australia’s leading fashion icons, Rebecca Judd, on Melbourne Cup day last year. But that’s not all this innovative artist is becoming famous for, she is creating headpieces out of laser cut perspex and leather for some of the world’s fashion elite and even has her own app, ‘If The Hat Fits’.

Like all great designers Danica is creatively blessed, a brilliant artist and someone with a vision for the future of fashion but her original use of  technology is truly distinctive. All it took was a chance conversation with a friend who worked at the local printers in 2013 to set in motion the steps towards the world’s very first 3D printed headpiece. The man, who was aware of her work with laser cut perspex, simply asked Danica if she had ever considered using a 3D printer.

“I just thought, oh my God, you’ve just done it. I literally walked out, hoped in my car and dialled 123456 to source the nearest 3D printer I could find,” she says.  Danica’s steely determination and pioneering spirit had always kept her looking for that one thing that would set her apart from the rest and this was it, her ‘eureka’ moment. Danica’s pure joy and excitement at this idea even now can’t be contained; her whole being seems to light up when she talks about it. After a little bit of trial and error with different engineers, Danica finally met Jesse Leeworthy from Rapid Pro and the world’s first 3D printed headpiece was born. Just in time for Rebecca Judd to hand select it to compliment her Toni Maticevski gown for Melbourne Cup Day.  Danica is certain that this is where her future in millinery is headed and that over the coming seasons we will see more and more 3D printed headpieces alongside the laser cut perspex and leather in her collections.

Bec Judd in the worlds first 3D printed headpiece and her Toni Maticevski gown on Melbourne Cup Day 2013

While not a world first, like the 3D printed headpiece, her work with perspex is almost equally revolutionary and impressive. She first got the idea to incorporate perspex into her collections after chatting to friend Kirrily Parry about her work with her parents company, Ballarat Pressings. “I said to her, if I got plastic, could your company laser cut that for me and she said ‘I can cut you anything you want’ so then my passion for perspex was born and I have not looked back.”

From then on a large portion of the 100 to 150 headpieces in Danica’s collections would be made from laser cut perspex or leather. This ground-breaking use of laser cut perspex and leather is unique to Danica’s brand and has given her an edge that has won admiration from the world’s fashion elite. Danica has made hats for international stars like Lady Gaga and Samantha Wills as well as Australian icons such as Gai Waterhouse, Pia and Melina Bagnato, Miss World Australia Erin Holland and Natasha Leigh just to name a few.


Jewellery designer Samantha Wills wearing Danica Erard Millinery at Turnbull Stakes Day.

Melbourne fashion blogger Jess Dempsey is another who admires and wears her hats. “Danica has her finger on the fashion pulse, she knows exactly what is happening in the fashion world and adapts her collections to this, however she does put her own twist on things, giving her her own unique identity in the millinery industry such as the perspex collections she has pioneered,” she says. It’s incredible to think that this woman, who has such revolutionary ideas and such a deep understanding of fashion and millinery, never intended to be in the business at all.

Jess Dempsey in Danica Erard Millinery

Born and raised in the small NSW town of Deniliquin, her father worked as a tailor while her mother was a window dresser for Myer Grace Brothers.  She admits “I was always chopping things up and creating things even from a very young age and making outfits for friends; it was just something I did”.

However, it wasn’t until 2002 while pregnant with her son, Oscar, now 11, that she made her very first headpiece. A neighbour who was aware of her creative talent and history in jewellery design asked Danica to create a headpiece for her for Oaks day. Her neighbour loved the piece so much she offered Danica $300 for it and said “if you don’t continue with this I think you’re silly because you’ve got a talent for it”. But even after her neighbour’s vehement recommendation, Danica didn’t pursue it any further until 2005 when she moved close to the incredibly remote town of Cobar.

Isolated and beginning to feel quite lonely, Danica would make the gruelling 150km drive to town to use the library computer and bid for hat making books on eBay. It was from these books, on her farm in rural NSW, that she taught herself the art of millinery. The determined and self-confessed “achiever” even got her husband to cut down a 40ft tree in order to make her first hat block. It didn’t take long before she became a huge hit with local women and country race goers, selling out of her one-of-a-kind designs at all the craft market she travelled to.

Danica has never let the fact she has at times lived 150km away from the closest town or any of the adversity she has faced get in the way of her dreams of pioneering new trends in millinery. Actress, blogger and girlfriend of AFL star Tom Hawkins, Emma Clapham, who is also a personal friend from Deniliquin, and a client of Danica’s, speaks proudly of her achievements. “I’m so proud of her, to come out of Deniliquin, it’s a tough industry but she’s got there through her work ethic. She’s just creatively talented and modern.” After speaking of Danica’s warmth, bubbly personality and infectious smile, Emma ended with “I’m very lucky to have her in my life”.

The same sentiments are echoed by Kirrily who not only helps create the hats but has worn over 50 of them. “She’s just such an innovative person, a pioneer; she stays motivated and has endless ideas”. Kirrily’s won many fashions on the field titles in Danica’s designs over the years and assuredly declares that she “wouldn’t wear anything else”.

Kirrily Parry in a gorgeous piece from Danica Erard.

All pictures taken from Danica Erard Millinery Facebook Page. Thank you so much to the gorgeous and caring Danica Erard for taking the time to talk to me as well as Jess Dempsy of What Would Karl Do, Emma Clapham of Who Loves That and Kirrily Parry of Country Racing Victoria Fashion Blog.

KEZINI SWIMWEAR – SHOOT AND INTERVIEW

I have found a new great love and it is Kezini Swimwear. The unique, luxurious and slightly cheeky designs are right up my alley and I’m sure you will love them too. A welcome change from the ‘surfer chick’ style bikinis we are offered by Billabong and the other major swimwear labels, Kezini is a breath of fresh air for the stylish lady who likes to look a million dollars on the beach and by the pool. Take a look at my favourite pieces from Kezini’s current collection and my interview with owner and designer, Kerri Macgregor-Meggitt below.

The incredibly stunning, luxurious (and comfortable!) Black Monokini, perfect for lounging pool side in the most elegant way. 
DSC_2932DSC_2942DSC_2979DSC_2987The Coral Bloom Collection. All these pieces can be mixed and matched together. Here I have the Coral Bloom Tri Top paired with the Coral Bloom Brazilian Bottoms.

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The Coral Bloom Bandeau Top matched with the Coral Bloom High Waist Pant.

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The Coral Bloom Frill Top with the Coral Bloom Frill Pant.DSC_3089DSC_3091

TARYN: How did you make your start in design? Were you always set on designing swimwear?

KERRI: I’ve always believed fashion is individual and a way of expressing yourself and that it’s more about choosing or creating something that makes you look and feel great which will then in turn give you that boost of confidence – it’s not all about being a follower.

I wasn’t always set on designing swimwear, however I had an epiphany in a change room of a swimwear shop – I found it really difficult to find a cheeky cut with just the right amount of coverage so I decided to design it.

TARYN: How long have you been designing for? 

KERRI: I’ve always had an interest in fashion design and have always dabbled in designing for myself, family and friends, however it became a change in career direction about 5 years ago.  I’m a true believer that things happen in life at the time they are meant to and that it is important to believe in what you are doing and be prepared to work very hard to achieve your goals.

TARYN: Where are the garments made?

KERRI: All of our garments are currently made here in Australia from the most beautiful quality Italian lycra and soft luxurious linings.  Because we currently manufacture here in Australia we also only do limited quantities at any given time which means the pieces are unique and exclusive.

TARYN: What inspires you? Tell me about your creative process from start to finish?

KERRI: I love the beach and the lifestyle it brings – there is something very relaxing and yet invigorating about being near the water!

Kezini is ‘just a little bit cheeky’ – it’s all about the cut and attention to detail – Brazilian inspired, it’s in between the traditional fuller cut and the teeny Brazilian cut.  Having that little bit less fabric is more flattering on most and it shows off our curves instead of hiding them.

When designing the print for the fabric used in our Coral Bloom collection I was inspired by the beauty that can be found in that whole other world under the sea – it truly is bursting with incredible and amazing treasures!

I love sketching the basis for a design but the best part is when I then get to play around with the fabrics and colour blocks on my (sometimes real) mannequins to tweak it to perfection.

It is such a sense of excitement to see a design transform from a sketch into a beautiful garment and then seeing that garment being worn by a real person is incredibly satisfying.

I wanted our signature Monochrome collection to be classic yet with a twist of being flirtatious, cute and cheeky – I think every girl loves her little black bikini!

In contrast our Coral Bloom range is bright and colourful with the feel of a summer holiday that never ends!

 TARYN: Where can Kezini be purchased?

KERRI: Kezini has an online boutique http://www.kezini.com where the full range of swimwear and resortwear pieces can be purchased.

We are at the Village Markets regularly on the Gold Coast over the summer months (Burleigh Heads & Paradise Point) and also do Pop Up shop events in Brisbane & Coastal areas.

Our current stockists are The Mercure Resort Palm Meadows on the Gold Coast, The Bowerbird Boudoir in Ashgrove (Brisbane) and SMFA Fashion Gallery in Double Bay (Sydney) during the high summer months.

We also offer private fittings by appointment and can be contacted via our website (www.kezini.com), email (info@kezini.com) or phone (0422995190).

TARYN: What’s coming in Kezini’s next release?

KERRI: There will be a beautiful rich red monokini as well as a bikini top and bottom which are designed to mix and match with our Coral Bloom print range.

To be the first to hear of new releases, upcoming events and pop up shop locations you can sign up to Kezini’s newsletter via their website http://www.kezini.com, follow on Instagram @ keziniswimwear, follow on Facebook Kezini Swimwear, follow on Twitter @ keziniswimwear and on Pintrest @ keziniswimwear.

All photographs by the incredible Greg Hudson. Check out more of his work, here.

INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL MOORE OF ALTER EGO FASHION DESIGN & ALTERATIONS AND DMOORE

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Fresh from his debut at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival and a highly successful buying trip to India, I sat down with Daniel Moore of Alter Ego Fashion Design & Alterations to talk about business and his own new label, DMoore. As we chatted, beautiful music filled his workroom on Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley and exquisite bridal and formal gowns on mannequins lined the walls. On the coffee table sat a black folder bursting with the most exceptional bead work samples from the same company that supplies some of the top fashion houses in America and Europe including Dior and Victoria Beckham. It is this that sparks my first question…

Taryn: These samples are absolutely stunning what is the story behind these?

Daniel: They’re from India. I just got back from India about two weeks ago and we’ve got samples being made over there and we’ve got some really nice fabrics coming back as well. These are all hand stitched and the company that makes these actually works with Victoria Beckham and Dior Couture. Obviously the designs don’t cross over though so now that we’ve got these, they’re ours, no one else will be able to use them. These ones are exclusive to us and I am going to use them in my next DMoore collection.

Taryn: They are all so beautiful it must have been hard to choose?

Daniel: They are amazing, I was in this factory the whole day and he just had boxes and boxes of them and it was just so hard to decide which ones to take.

Taryn: You also made some dresses out of a stunning green Valentino lace, how did you get onto that?

Daniel: Our supplier just had it, she said this is the last five meters of it and I just had to take it! We were really lucky and have used it all now. As soon as we told our customers about it, it was gone. We could have sold 50 meters of it.

One of the dresses made from the green Valentino lace.

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Taryn: There are two sides to your business, there is Alter Ego Fashion Design and Alterations and then there is DMoore, how do they differ?

Daniel: Alter Ego is predominantly made to measure and alterations as that is pretty much what everyone wants. Sometimes people will bring in ideas and we will design it with them but it’s mainly made to measure. DMoore is all my designs, it is mostly formal and cocktail as well as some bridal. We’ve done a little bit of other things, shorts and things but that’s not really my market.

Taryn: Which side of it do you prefer? Making one off designs for a customer or designing for a collection?

Daniel: I like working with the customers, its fun. That’s what I’ve been trained in, small businesses, working with the customers, made to measure.

Taryn: How did you start out in sewing?

Daniel: I started in a traineeship actually, there was a job going at a bridal shop for a fully experienced wedding dress maker and I just went in and begged her to give me the job! She ended up putting me on as a trainee and I did lots of different courses, but that’s how I started.

I was lucky enough to know Daniel early on in his designing career and he made me this stunning green gown for a formal event in 2008.

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Taryn: You debuted DMoore at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival this year, how was it? Were you excited or nervous?

Daniel: I was so nervous, Paul Hunt was there to help me which was good though. There were a few things I would have liked to have changed about it but overall it was really good.

Taryn: Have you had a good reception since MBFF?

Daniel: Yeah we’ve had a lot of positive comments and we’ve sold a few pieces that we showed so that has been good. It’s also more of a branding thing I think.

Thank you so much to Daniel Moore for taking the time out to talk to me today. If you are ever in need of clothing alterations or a made to measure dress or suit please contact Daniel, the quality of his fabrics and workmanship is absolutely of the highest standard.

Keep up to date with Daniel on Facebook by clicking here and check out his website here.

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INTERVIEW WITH BRAD WEBB, DESIGNER OF DARB BRIDAL COUTURE

I may not yet know who I will one day marry but one thing I am sure of is who I want to design my wedding gown, and that is Brad Webb. The multi award winning designer of Darb Bridal Couture showcased an exquisite collection of gowns at the recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival and I was fortunate enough to sit down with him for an interview today about his influences, fabrics and the future.

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Taryn: What were your earliest influences to get into the business?

Brad: I suppose I’ve loved fabrics and sewing things since I was small and when you do something like that you evolve into it more and more. Sometimes you decide to make a career out of something but for me it just seemed more like a natural progression and of course there is the support of the family to do it and their encouragement. I guess it just happened.

Taryn: Where do you source your fabrics from? Do you source them from Australia?

Brad: They are all European. Unfortunately there are aren’t many fabric manufacturers in Australia so our silks are all from overseas and the laces are either French or Italian.  We deal directly with the mills instead of dealing with a wholesaler and the lace is made to order for you all the time.  They have a collection and when you place an order they then produce that piece for you so you’ve got more scope  for variety unlike with a wholesaler who buys huge quantities and hold them in stock.  It’s nice for us because I like all my fabrics to be exclusive to me which you need for something like this which is high end and you want that point of difference.

Taryn: Do you take a lot of inspiration from overseas?

Brad: I do and I don’t. I don’t like to look at what other people are doing. I like to do my own thing because I don’t like to feel like I’ve copied something someone else has done and when you are trying to create if you are even looking at other things it influences you and sometimes it’s then hard once the seed has been planted to ignore it.  I am influenced by Dior and things like that from the 50′s because the type of lines they had are a very elegant look and sometimes even looking at artwork can be inspiring.

Taryn: Quality and attention to detail is something I’ve noticed throughout your collections , that must be something that is very important to you?

Brad: Yes it is important, I think it shows people who have an eye for detail, taste and fine things that we pay attention to things like that. When people who can appreciate that come in they can see it straight away and they notice it and that’s part of what draws them to our product. It’s important to us and we strive for that all the time.

Taryn: How long does the creative process take in making a dress, from the very first concept to the day it is worn?

Brad: For a client we recommend we start around 6-8 months before their wedding. If it is a style that is already part of the collection we start making it around 18 weeks before the wedding with fittings every fortnight or so along the way until it is made. If you are creating a new design and the gowns that form part of my collection each year, then you need a little bit more than that because you’ve got to get your ideas together and source the fabrics and that process takes about 6-8 months.

Taryn: So much detail goes into these creations then..

Brad: Yeah, if you’re doing a beaded lace, you’ve got to find the lace design that you like for the gown but it may not necessarily be embellished yet so first you have to find the lace you like, then decide on a particular style of bead work or embellishment and once you’ve got that right, you can actually do the piece that you want.

Taryn: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival was a huge success, did you have a favourite piece from the show?

Brad: Oh I don’t know, that’s hard! I really liked every element in the collection this year. Sometimes you might put together a collection with two or three items that are a little bit weaker but this year each one was a strong gown in it’s own right and I think that lifted the whole parade so it’s very hard to pick a favourite out of all of them, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

Taryn: Did you have more gowns you wanted to put in the show but had to cut out?

Brad: Yeah I did start with more at the sketch stage, I think I had about 24 and then I had to get it down to 17, it was supposed to be down to 14 but I couldn’t do it so I left it at 17 and even that was hard.  I should go back and have a look at what I culled and let them grow into a new story of their own.

Taryn: One of your gowns was featured on the promotional signage for MBFF, that must have been amazing to see?

Brad: Yes, that was really nice and a bit of an honour to get picked to do that. It was hard too because I was trying to stick within the brief they gave me but also find something that would depict my label and look and something that as a one image shot was going to tell people that this event is something to do with fashion and design and so in the end I just did what I wanted!

Taryn: Does MBFF have a big impact on business? 

Brad: It’s more lifting your label and awareness, promoting your label and keeping your name out there and current. You need to be a part of that and it’s a nice way to launch and showcase your new collection. The reaction has been very strong here already from the collection with people coming in and trying on, it’s been really good and I’ve been very happy with it this year.

Thanks so much to Brad for taking the time to chat to me and if you would like to find out more about Darb please visithttp://www.darbbridalcouture.com.au and my post on the Darb collection from MBFF here.

Darb at MBFF

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