Meet the Stylist Behind our Daniel Ricciardo Cover Shoot

Having styled everyone from Madonna to Michael Jackson, David Bradshaw is one of the UK’s most experienced and respected creatives.

Article by Lucy E Cousins

Ricciardo wearing Prada jumpsuit and sweater, prada.com; and Alighieri necklace and rings, alighieri.co.uk. Inflatable chair, Villa Twenty Six, villa26.com. Photography by Yvan Fabing. Styling by David Bradshaw.

One of the first things UK stylist David Bradshaw tells me is that he’s never had a problem talking about himself (and with a CV like his, that’s understandable) but that he can “easily become a bore” when he does, which is something that’s extraordinarily hard to believe.

Not only is Bradshaw one of the UK’s most experienced and renowned stylists, but throughout his career he’s also acted as a designer, a fashion editor, and a creative consultant. He’s worked with iconic brands such as Prada, Jil Sander, Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen, he was GQ Style UK launch Creative Director, and has styled everyone from Madonna to Nick Cave.

It’s a breadth of career that few could boast, so Bradshaw could be forgiven for namedropping a slew of celebrities and talented muses he’s worked with, but he’s famously tight lipped on much of his experiences. What he will tell you however is the influence Miuccia Prada had on him (“It was Miuccia who really encouraged me to see something in everything.”), and how much he enjoyed styling the now-famous 1995 short film “Scream” with Michael and Janet Jackson. In fact, he still has the original fax requesting him for the job framed in his London home.

However, one celebrity he has no problems talking about is Formula One racing driver, Daniel Ricciardo, who he styled for T Australia’s current issue. Working within the tight constraints of Ricciardo’s micro-managed schedule, the creative team behind our cover (including photographer Yvan Fabing) had a small window of time at the famous McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey, England, to capture the perfect set of images. “The shoot was pretty intense but a pleasure all the same,” he says. “It’s hard not to be impressed by the level of professionalism that goes into everything about Formula One, so going about this shoot in a similar way was the very least Yvan and I could do.”

With such tight timings, a star who can handle G-force as skilfully as an astronaut, and a new model McLaren worth millions as a prop, Bradshaw admits he had to pull from his years of experience to get the look he wanted in time. “My skill as a stylist has developed over many years and has always been driven by the seductive power of imagery. But it was my experience I think that proved most useful in this instance, in how to make the very most out of the short time we had with Daniel,” he explains.

David Bradshaw spoke to T Australia from his London home about his career highlights, how celebrity culture has changed over the past few decades and what he really thought of Daniel Ricciardo.

UK Stylist David Bradshaw has worked with everyone from Madonna to Michael Jackson. Photography courtesy of David Bradshaw.
Ricciardo wears Gucci blazer; Alighieri necklace; and stylist’s own T-shirt and scarf. Photography by Yvan Fabing. Styling by David Bradshaw.

Looking back at your career, what would you say are some of the highlight shoots you’ve been a part of or experiences you had?

“I lecture these days and when, as is often the case, I’m asked this question for some reason I always think of Rutger Hauer’s tears in rain monologue from “Blade Runner” [where he says] “I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate…”. For the experiences I’ve had, the things I’ve seen, [they are] are almost too incredible to describe. I watched Michael Jackson moonwalk across the set of the Scream video and would like to think that’s similarly out of this world.”

Over the past decade or so, how do you feel that celebrity photoshoots have changed?

“Celebrity culture has changed profoundly during this timeframe and subsequently everything associated with it has too. Also, I feel that celebrity and fashion cultures have become merged almost completely into one image driven entity. Celebrities are models and models are celebrities, but the image is King ultimately.”

You’ve styled many talented people, who is the one person (living or dead) that you would love to style?

“Well, that’s a tough one because I’ve worked with a lot of truly great people, many of them heroes of mine for one reason or other. You can never really anticipate such experiences, only but try to relish them all. I wasn’t an INXS fan until I worked with Michael Hutchence, and I only got to work with Michael because I was asked to. But after doing styling for so long, l’m more interested nowadays in the meaning, rather than process of it all. If any meaning does exist, of course.”

You’ve helped shape some of the most iconic brands, which was the most satisfying or creatively fulfilling to work on?

“Fashion brands are like the flip side of the same coin, the coin in the slot of the great fashion machine. Timing makes all the difference here. I first worked at Calvin Klein when Calvin was still there, I worked with Miuccia during the early days of Prada, with Lee at the height of Alexander McQueen’s pomp and with Donatella throughout the recent resurgence of Versace. Each and every one a kind of deep infiltration into very precious domains, and a privilege I’ll be forever grateful to these great houses for.”

What was your vision for the T Australia Daniel Ricciardo cover shoot?

“To me, Daniel, like all other Formula One drivers, is a nobleman, or a knight, someone sent by us to do things almost impossible, for our honour and glory. And I believe Formula One in its relentless pursuit of perfection has a nobility. This and some abstract sense of speed was my vision for the piece with Daniel.”

How did you find Daniel on the day? What surprised you about him?

“Daniel was the perfect gentleman and very knightly indeed. Was I surprised by this? No, not really, I’ve been watching him on Netflix and was already a fan of the way he goes about his business, but now I’m an avid one. He’s very cool and handsome, and he’s a statesman that represents his team, his sport and his great nation superbly.”

Lastly, how has covid affect you personally and your career?

“Covid has sucked big time, but I got a few things done that I’m proud of. Things can only get better in 2022, for all of us, I very much hope.”

 

See Bradshaw’s work in our current issue, featuring Formula One racing driver Daniel Ricciardo, on sale nationally and via our T Australia Shop.

Gabrielle Chanel, All in the Detail

An unprecedented retrospective opening next month at the National Gallery of Victoria explores how Gabrielle Chanel’s famed perfectionism shaped her most enduring creation: her influence.

Article by Lucy E Cousins

Chanel garment being packed at the Palais Galliera, Paris, to travel to Melbourne for the Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne. Photography by Pierre Antoine.

“I still dress as I always did, like a schoolgirl,” Gabrielle Chanel is reported to have once said — though, like many quotes attributed to the 20th-century French designer, it’s hard to fact-check. The embodiment of style and independence in her lifetime, she has, since her death in 1971, fallen victim to misquotation, with incorrect sayings repeated in books, websites and social media. Something she, no doubt, would have hated.

For Chanel, beauty was in the detail and her image was something she crafted meticulously. From the photographs she staged in her apartment to her mythologised childhood, she styled her personal brand in the same way she designed her couture: trimming off bits here and there until perfection was reached.

A new exhibition, “Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto”, opening on December 4 at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, investigates Chanel’s attention to detail, which was at the heart of everything she designed, from her early millinery work in the 1910s through to her couture dresses in the 1950s and ’60s. Presented by the gallery in partnership with the Palais Galliera in Paris, the retrospective includes more than 100 garments, many of which are on loan from the Patrimoine de Chanel, the house’s heritage division. Surprisingly, this is the first retrospective of this kind to solely focus on Gabrielle Chanel herself.

‘Coco’ Chanel in Paris, 1963, photograph by Michael Hardy. © Michael Hardy / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

“In this exhibition we’ve gathered a huge selection of amazing pieces from collections all over the world,” says Miren Arzalluz, the director of the Palais Galliera and the co-curator of the exhibition. “So while some of them, of course, are from our collection, a large part of this exhibition comes from the House of Chanel collection,” she says, referring to the maison’s comprehensive archive, which spans the 1910s to today. “They are the best of the best that we have come across,” she says. “We’ve never seen so many Chanel designs so representative of her whole body of work.”

Smart and confident, Chanel also had an innate understanding of women’s needs, as evidenced by the exhibition. Her ability to “read the room” in a world on the brink of enormous change led to some of her most iconic pieces. “Even before she started her career as a designer and as a couturier at the turn of the century, she created clothes for herself in order to understand what women wanted and what women needed during what was a very convulsive period in recent history,” says Arzalluz.

The experience of being a modern woman in a rapidly changing world informed the way Chanel approached fashion — and the way clients wore her clothes. In many ways, it was a revolution on a seemingly micro level that had a long-lasting impact. “Chanel helped change the relationship between clothing and the body,” says Danielle Whitfield, the gallery’s curator of fashion and textiles. “I wouldn’t say she’s the only designer to ever conceive of this concept but when we think of Chanel, we think of the principles of timelessness, simplicity and practicality.”

Suit 1970 spring–summer 1970 (detail) silk, wool, brass, metal. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Mavis Powell, 1986.
Suits spring–summer 1961 (detail) tweed, grosgrain with braid, gilded metal Patrimoine de CHANEL, Paris. Photography by Julien T. Hamon.

When Chanel introduced these modern concepts to haute couture in the early part of last century, it was novel; initially, she wanted to create a wardrobe for women that they could work and travel in. And while she did occasionally draw on existing designs (she took inspiration from menswear of the time, for example), her approach heralded a new era for women’s clothing, one free of the corsetry and restricted movement of the recent past. Along with this change in women’s silhouettes and their expectations of fashion, Chanel subtly challenged gender expectations. “She designed for a woman who, like her, had an active lifestyle, who was emancipated,” says Whitfield. “Chanel was self-made to an extent, she was independent, she had an incredibly successful business and she was the model for her own designs.”

Her work pushed couture to give women what they needed, says Whitfield: “Chanel brings a different set of principles about how clothing should look and how it should feel. She wanted to simplify the lines, making things comfortable and practical and serviceable.” Her modernist imperative for form and function reflected society’s general move away from the highly decorative landscape of Art Nouveau in favour of the clean lines and singularity of the Art Deco era. “She had quite an advanced, modern point of view, which continued to be very important and is still at the heart of the values of Chanel,” confirms Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of fashion at Chanel.

An eye for what was, at the time, an oxymoron — stylish, utilitarian clothes — led Chanel to experiment and pioneer design elements that still resonate today. Most famously and early on in her career, she began to work with fabrics such as jersey, traditionally used to make men’s underwear. It was hard-wearing and affordable, but Chanel also loved that it draped well and kept its form.

Chanel garment being packed at the Palais Galliera, Paris to travel to Melbourne for the Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne Photography by Pierre Antoine.

In the same vein, she discovered the wearability and versatility of tweed (she held a fascination for the English countryside). In the early 1900s, tweed was used mainly for hunting jackets and men’s sportswear, and was considered too heavy and masculine for women’s clothing. By working with individual material manufacturers, Chanel created a softer tweed that was extremely comfortable yet still felt luxurious. Over the years she would experiment with colour and design, but tweed and jersey would retain hallowed status in her collections. “Mademoiselle Chanel was audacious in the way she mixed and matched her fabrics,” says Pavlovsky. “Not only was her style much more free but, on top of that, she was able to take all these new fabrics at that time and create something very special. She was not stuck. She was open and she was always trying something new in her designs.”

This outlook extended to dreaming up inventive ways to ensure garments hung well on the feminine form, but also felt comfortable. She managed to walk the line between ready-to- wear and couture with exquisite construction and hand-sewn elements. So, while there may be a “simplification of the line”, as Arzalluz calls it, and ease of use, the construction of her clothing is very sophisticated.

Having addressed some of the barriers to wearability, Chanel also began to revolutionise the way couture clothes related to the body. Of the classic Chanel suit, Arzalluz says, “One very specific technique she created was to build the shoulder in a way that you can raise your hand and your jacket stays in place, so you have absolute freedom to move as you wish.”

Other deceptively small tweaks that add up to a revolution in construction include cutting the sleeves just before the wrist in order to show off jewellery while retaining ease of movement. Chanel also designed the waistline of her dresses to sit lower on the hips, imparting a sense of liberation, while the length of the skirt, falling just below the knees, assured modesty and flattering lines. An added detail was chain-weighted hems that ensured the material hung perfectly with every wear. “There’s so many technical details that she masters precisely in order to offer women this ease, naturalness and freedom,” says Arzalluz. “That was really her priority when designing.”

This experimentalist tendency also led to Chanel pioneering a maximalist approach to embellishments including embroidery, sequins and feathers, using them in a way that didn’t compromise the simplicity of the silhouette. “In this exhibition you can see that even when she uses decorative elements, she does so in a very unique way. For example, with sequins, she covers a dress completely,” says Arzalluz. It’s never purely decorative. “She always adds another dimension to the way she uses traditional decorative elements.”

‘Coco’ Chanel at the Ritz Hotel (drawings by Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau), 1937. Photography by François Kollar. Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine. © Jean Cocteau / ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2021. Photo © Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / François Kollar. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Working with local artisans, or métiers d’art, Chanel produced her own knitwear and designed exclusive fabrics, overseeing the entire process from print to production. While Chanel wasn’t the only designer who had this kind of relationship with the métiers, she was the first to make sure their skills were preserved by supporting them and featuring their work prominently.

It is a symbiotic relationship that still exists today. The house has just opened the Rudy Ricciotti-designed le19M, a dedicated, purpose-built space in Paris’ 19th Arrondissement for the 11 maisons d’art the brand has acquired since the 1980s. Chanel will present its 2021/22 Métiers d’art collection at the new site on December 7. “Mademoiselle Chanel was one of the very first to partner with all the métiers to nourish this creative process,” says Pavlovsky. “And while this started with Mademoiselle Chanel, it continued to exist with Mr [Karl] Lagerfeld and still continues today with Virginie [Viard]. So, they are part of our ecosystem. We need their contribution. We need their know-how, we need their participation to be able to develop eight collections a year.”

Familiarity with the métiers allowed Chanel to innovate and create work that exemplified her point of view as a designer — something that evolved but never wavered, according to Arzalluz. She says of Chanel’s design journey: “All these principles were there from the very beginning, in the 1910s, and they were present throughout her career. She faithfully kept her work to the principles of elegance and style, as well as comfort, freedom of movement and the ability for a woman to be herself.”

That’s why, she says, this exhibition will excite fashion lovers; not only does it feature Chanel’s well-known designs, it also includes a range of early work, jewellery and accessories. “I think people will be shocked to discover the first period of Chanel’s life, because we all identify her work with the 1950s and ’60s, with the suit and the iconic designs of that time,” says Arzalluz, “but what I find fascinating are those early designs from the 1910s through to the 1930s. They are so beautiful and sophisticated.” Adds Pavlovsky, “We believe that this exhibition is quite important in Chanel history because, 50 years later, Mademoiselle Chanel and her vision of fashion is still at the heart of what we do today.”

A version of this article appears in print in our fourth edition, Page 36 of T Australia with the headline:
“All in the Detail”
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Troye Sivan Stars in Cartier’s “Love Is All” Film

The choral work, which features twelve influential celebrities, celebrates love in all its forms.

Article by Hannah Warren

Perth native, singer-songwriter Troye Sivan, stars in Cartier's short film, "Love Is All". Photography courtesy of Cartier.

Luxury fashion house Cartier has released a short film to celebrating the power of love, togetherness and family on a grand, showstopping scale. Directed and shot in Paris, Los Angeles and Shanghai by British director and fashion photographer Charlotte Wales, the film brings together a unique blend of celebrity ambassadors and friends of the brand for a joyful, star-studded experience, including South African–born Australian performer Troye Sivan.

The homegrown singer-songwriter from Perth joins Willow Smith, Jackson Wang, Lily Collins, Ella Balinska, Mariacarla Boscono, Monica Bellucci, Khatia Buniatishvili, Golshifteh Farahani, Mélanie Laurent, Annabelle Wallis, and Maisie Williams in a series of stages – decked out in Cartier’s distinctive red hue – to sing, lip sync and dance along to Roger Glover’s upbeat 1974 hit Love is All.

Cartier: A Celebration of Love

This high-energy short film is a celebration of love and family in all its beautiful and varied forms, and the song, as well as the diverse cast of friends of the house, represents family in our modern world: chosen, global and at the core of everything we do.

The stages the artists inhabit for the film reference Cartier’s red box, which in itself represents magic, joy, promise, excitement… all the things you want from your festive season. The stages spin, rotate and shift, seeming to turn themselves inside out and breaking the fourth wall for a behind-the-scenes experience even as the show continues.

The result is a festive celebration that remind us not only of the importance of love and togetherness but also of having fun and being playful – a message that is no doubt much needed after the last two years.

Italian actress Monica Anna Maria Bellucci on set of Cartier's Love is All short film. Photography courtesy of Cartier.
A behind the scenes view of Italian model and actress Mariacarla Boscono. Photography courtesy of Cartier.

“It’s a part of the Cartier philosophy to believe that we are stronger and more authentic together, and that’s why we have gathered this inspiring community of artists who embrace life with a sense of celebration,” explains Cartier’s chief marketing officer Arnaud Carrez of the film. “Together, they seem to defy gravity through Cartier’s red box, which they have filled with a sense of joy.”

After a few difficult years, this festive season was always tipped to be a go-big-or-go-home type, but Cartier’s grand gesture has confirmed it, with style and luxury.  

The Must-Have ’90s-Inspired Collab from Heron Preston and Calvin Klein

The cult designer has teamed up with Calvin Klein for a collection that’s both innovative and retrospective.

Article by Hannah Warren

Multi-hyphenate Heron Preston, who bills himself as an artist, creative director, content creator, clothing designer and DJ, entered the collective consciousness as part of Been Trill, the creative collective-meets-streetwear brand run by Virgil Abloh (of Off-White fame) and Matthew Williams (Givenchy’s creative director).

During this time, Preston also started collaborating with Kanye West as an art director, designing everything from tour merchandise to Yeezy show invitations. Preston’s eponymous label, which debuted at Paris Fashion Week 2017, first garnered attention when he designed workwear-slash-streetwear in collaboration with the Department of Sanitation New York and his fashion continues to have a utilitarian flavour to it (note the orange detailing on this Calvin Klein collaboration), albeit with a more designer approach.

In this new Calvin Klein collaboration (the second Preston has worked on) there is a seamless blend of Calvin Klein foundation pieces, think: boxers, athletic crop tops, crewnecks and track pants, and the high fashion that Preston has made a name for himself with. Classic styles are tailored for a future fit, and the clever use of texture and colour make these pieces wardrobe staples for all seasons.

As a counterbalance to the ultra-modern, youth-inspired brand, for this collection Preston delved into the Calvin Klein archives to find inspiration; in particular he loved a ’90s style of elastic band that now features heavily in this range. With utility pants, elasticated waists, subdued tones, baggy silhouettes and a genderless theme, there’s a hint of nostalgia to the whole campaign that is intensely comforting.

Preston also brings the sustainable approach that has been a touchstone of his work since the early days. Sustainably sourced materials are used across much of this collection: organic cotton, recycled polyester and recycled nylon all feature heavily and are elevated to the luxurious.

This collaboration feels as much like an evolution in design as it is throwback; pieces to wear forever while enjoying the classic 90s Calvin Klein designs that are now iconic.

Bianca Spender on the Australian Creative Landscape

The Australian fashion leader believes the past two years have been a time for designers to be true to their vision with less noise from the outside world.

Article by Sally Paton

As the daughter of an Australian fashion matriarch, Bianca Spender says fashion was always a part of her universe. Photography courtesy Bianca Spencer/ Instagram.com

Thoughtful, precise and imaginative, Bianca J Spender designs clothes that have a rhythm. The essence of her label, Bianca Spencer, is poetic energy balanced by precise structure, and each season brings a directional collection of modern, sensual silhouettes. The child of working parents, Bianca grew up in Woollahra, Sydney, along with her siblings, Alex and Allegra. As the daughter of an Australian fashion matriarch, Carla Zampatti, fashion was always a part of her universe. She has a historical perspective on design, and builds upon this to create a modern beauty that engages with the senses and spirit of the wearer.

How would you best describe what you do professionally?

“I’m very fortunate that my work and craft allows me to explore and challenge all that inspires me creatively. My day-to-day is about pushing that craftsmanship, learning more, and leaning into where that takes me.”

What drew you to fashion design and what do you love about it?

“I love the way that fashion and what you wear can change the way you feel. That choice can improve your mood or make you feel strong and help see you through your day. I love the journey I get to go on each season, the storytelling of each garment in their drape. I am a true math geek at heart, so I love nothing more than draping and pattern-making to solve a problem.”

What inspires you professionally?

“I’ve always had an affinity for the arts, dance and movement and, of course, nature. Working with other creatives who have a strong vision and are collaborative inspires me. It’s always been rewarding to meld creativity between different dialects.”

What does a typical day look like for you?

“Most mornings, I am on the bus or train with my kids to go to school, or I bike in to work. My week always starts with meetings, and I leave Wednesday to Friday free for creativity. If you’re by the studio, you’ll likely see me, an extrovert, talking with a tea in my hand.”

A self-confessed math geek at heart, Spender love nothing more than draping and pattern-making. Photography courtesy of Bianca Spender/ Instagram.com
A behind the scenes look at Spender's studio in Darling Point, Sydney. Photography courtesy of Bianca Spender

What is exciting for you about the current Australian creative landscape?

“We are dynamic in the way we have ideas and let them grow. We’re always open to new concepts or views. Since Covid, we are honing into our own creative process and aren’t as outward-looking. It’s an interesting time for designers and creatives to be true to their vision with less noise from the outside world and really getting a chance to focus on the Australian customer.”

Do you think there’s a common thread in Australian design and creativity?

“I believe we have a more relaxed approach driven by our proximity to the ocean and nature. But we have different light. It’s a harsh and strong light that creates our vivid colour palette.”

How would you describe your approach to dressing? And how does it make you feel?

“I dress for movement, how it feels on my body and how it dances with me. I’m often most comfortable in a full-length dress and no shoes. It’s about a freedom and self-expression.”

Tell us a little about your approach to beauty and wellness.

“I enjoy the simple things like walking or riding to work, swimming in the ocean and mediation. I drink lots of water and am never without a cup of herbal tea.”

What does luxury mean to you?

“Time.”

What motivated you to start your label?

“I truly love the craft, and I wanted to create a freedom for women. Someone once said that I design for women with curly hair, and I think that’s a great metaphor – that I design for women who don’t need everything in control, a more organic sensuality.”

What are some changes you’ve noted in the fashion industry in recent times?

“It’s exciting to see the focus on sustainability. We have always been Australian made, and I had some people think I was a dinosaur for not moving to offshore production however many years ago, but it’s so great now to see this is something we can again have pride in. As a brand, we still have a long journey to go. I also love the direct voice of designing coming through more with social media rather than the traditional wholesale channels. It’s so much closer to the customer. It also creates unique groups like Showroom X and the combined interests and discussions about creativity and design, and that fashion is more than what you wear. It’s the storytelling of people dressing for themselves.”

What is your approach towards maintaining responsible business?

“To me, it’s about making choices that are right for me as a designer and a business, and not bending to industry pressures on sale timings or what fashion week should look like.”

How do you envisage the future of fashion?

“I feel there will be a continued shift toward the need for transparency and improvement on the constant evolution to design creatively and understand the use of limited precious resources—moves like working with deadstock and designing within those limitations to reduce new fabric production.”

Describe your workspace – what do you need around you to feel creatively motivated?

“I like to have a space that feels mine and energy in the office. We have the bay and harbour across the road, and having that nature and sense of openness nearby is wonderful for creating calm.”

Navigating Fashion in the Age of Individualism

How to forge a fashion legacy in a digital culture measured in seconds not years? Five Australian brands lead the way.

Article by Victoria Pearson

The Tierney gown from Alex Perry’s autumn 2021 collection.

Personal style is having a moment. Where once we were offered garments embodying various design archetypes or moulds, cries for more diverse narrative representation in fashion have prompted brands to cater more directly to their increasingly self-styled audiences. The result is a sparkly new era of individualism, buoyed in recent years by the pervasiveness of Instagram, TikTok and other “me”-centric social media platforms. Look no further than Hedi Slimane, who eschewed previous muses such as Joan Didion and Margaret Qualley in favour of TikTok stars for Celine’s spring 2021 collection, both in its genesis and on the runway. Prior to this, Viktor & Rolf’s spring 2019 showcase featured oversized tulle gowns printed with slogans practically screaming to be memed, the most shareable including “I’m not shy I just don’t like you” and “Sorry I’m late I didn’t want to come”.

“Many of the trends you see on the streets and the catwalks either have begun or will break out on Instagram,” says Larissa Gargaro, Instagram’s manager of fashion and beauty partnerships in Latin America. She says the platform has “played a huge role in changing the way that fashion is consumed online”, adding that 90 per cent of Instagram users follow a business and 18 per cent follow one of the top 100 fashion and beauty accounts. And it’s not just influencers and small brands that use tags on feeds, Stories and Reels to sell products, she says. “Huge fashion houses can use Instagram as a window for commerce that’s fully driven by content,” she says.

Scroll, swipe, share, repeat: a cyclical, rapid- fire sequence we have down pat. That’s until the rare occasion when something cuts through loudly enough to focus our attention. Earlier this year that event was the sudden death of the pioneering designer Carla Zampatti at the age of 78. Zampatti had not yet retired and was still in the business of crafting wardrobes for women of multiple generations. As tributes to Zampatti flooded in, each describing decidedly offline encounters with the designer or her creations, mourners reflected on her energy, character and grit, and the indelible mark she left on the fashion industry. There wasn’t a single reference to “engagement” or “likes”. Kelly Atkinson, the cofounder and creative director of the luxury e-commerce platform Showroom-X describes Zampatti as “a woman of strength and substance”, adding that “she stayed true to her style and design philosophy while still remaining relevant to the market and seasons”.

Zampatti’s passing also stirred ruminations on the notion of legacy. It is clear she connected with audiences beyond the digital realm, and Atkinson says that’s exactly what Showroom-X shoppers want from a brand. “Legacy is what the 2021 customer is looking for now,” she says, “a brand to invest in, not just sit on the sideline of the narrative. They want to deeply believe in what and who they are purchasing from.”

The Bryn dress and Declan jumpsuit from Alex Perry’s autumn 2021 collection.

So, among the growing number of collections calibrated for the TikTok generation — which flicks from one show to the next as quickly as if they were devouring Reels, feeds and Stories — what does it take to hold someone’s attention and, more importantly, truly connect? In this age of individualism, what constitutes a meaningful fashion legacy?

Atkinson points to R.M.Williams. Founded in 1932 by Reginald Murray Williams, the brand has an aesthetic that could be described as Australiana writ large: functional, high-quality workwear and leather accessories that are inspired by the landscape. “R.M.Williams connects deeply to the authentic Australian lifestyle,” says Atkinson, who formerly worked for the brand. “While paying homage to the adventurer, workman and countryman himself [Williams], it’s also relatable enough to touch the hearts of the everyday Australian in multiple iterations. I don’t think I’ve caught a plane without seeing at least half the men in R.M.Williams boots.” Women, too. The company, which has been around for nine decades, now resonates globally, thanks to its savvy appointment of brand ambassadors, including Phoebe Tonkin and Hugh Jackman. “Our production milestones over the past year have been significant,” says Michelle Hepworth, the acting CEO. “The brand has never produced more boots than it has in this year.”

Storytelling pervades the products, giving new generations the opportunity to become part of something bigger than themselves. An emphasis on spirit and craftsmanship has also cemented the brand’s legacy, and Hepworth is committed to preserving those shoemaking skills at its Adelaide workshop, while returning the manufacture of other categories to Australia. “Moving forward, we will be continuing to focus on Australian-made and building out our women’s footwear offering,” she says. “Leather is part of the brand’s DNA and we are focused on also building out our leather goods and craft offering.”

Clothing, accessories and boots by R.M.Williams are imbued with an Australian aesthetic that resonates globally.

Meanwhile, far from the red dust landscapes and shearing sheds that are synonymous with R.M.Williams, racks of red carpet gowns sit beside razor-sharp suiting at the Sydney showroom of Alex Perry. The designer has cultivated a larger-than-life identity over nearly 30 years in the industry, but in spite of his success (including a lengthy roster of international luxury stockists) he still has a hint of imposter syndrome. He says he long felt like he was “swimming upstream” against the laidback aesthetic Australia is known for. “We are such a relaxed country in terms of fashion and style that my industry didn’t really consider what I designed ‘real fashion’,” he says. “It struggled to find its place for the longest time.”

The designer’s take on sexy maximalism has nevertheless reverberated since 1992, thanks in part to some strategic maturation. “The brand was louder, initially,” says Perry. “It’s become stronger and quieter, but it has always been glamorous.” Covetable, as well: where once his gowns appeared on the occasional Aussie starlet, you’re now just as likely to spot them on the international red-carpet circuit, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez both fans.

The secret to the label’s longevity? Myriad muses, for a start. “From the very beginning, the brand has always resonated with a diverse range of women — age, ethnicity, culture have always been so varied,” says Perry. As for building a meaningful legacy, Perry says it’s essential to kick ego to the curb. “Relevance, newness, excitement and desirability are critical,” he says. “But you have to be able to step away from yourself, step away from your ego. Look at your designs as an observer, an outsider, and without emotion, ask yourself, ‘Is it relevant, exciting, new? Is it amazing? Is it good enough?’ ”

Above all else, he says, labels need to be future-focused. “A brand’s heritage is its DNA. Ignore the heritage and you take away its identity,” says Perry. “But staying relevant is a conscious re-evaluation of design, the fashion environment, the needs of women, society and the world around us. I have respect for my business past, and past achievements, but I never look back. I’m firmly focused on what’s next — the next celebrity, the next luxury retailer.” He adds: “Fashion is always about the future.”

A new look from Oroton, a brand that refuses to revisit the archives.

For a brand with as much cultural resonance as Oroton, the temptation to look back is strong. The iconic accessories house was founded in 1938, meaning there’s nearly a century’s worth of archives to mine. However, much like Perry, the creative director, Sophie Holt, had no interest in rehashing the past when she joined the company in 2018. “At Oroton, we are very focused on respecting and protecting our brand heritage, however we are equally focused on a new legacy,” Holt says, “to forge a path that reflects the changing face of fashion and demands of our customer in terms of a more sustainable approach through product innovation, operational progress and reducing the impact our industry has on the environment.”

Holt was tasked with resuscitating the once bankrupt giant, a feat that has required creative clarification and brand modernisation. “Pressure to deliver is often a curse every designer carries with them,” she says. “I prefer to channel a more positive headspace — learn from our past but remain progressively resilient and focused on what’s next. We have a strong handwriting and a total dedication to detail. As long as these ingredients are present, we keep our eyes firmly focused on the future.”

She has worked hard to build an infrastructure that will support Oroton through changing fads and circumstantial changes, including a Covid-era launch of the brand’s international wholesale business and the staging of its first runway collection, at this year’s Australian Fashion Week. “For Australia to be the first global location to host a physical fashion week since the pandemic began, it was absolutely the right time for our runway debut,” says Holt of the presentation of summer- perfect ready-to-wear and accessories. She adds: “Oroton’s heritage, growth strategy and social relevance are all inextricably linked, so the balance is dependent on progressive brand positioning moments.” Participating in an event such as Australian Fashion Week not only reinforces a company’s domestic presence, it can also boost its international growth. “We are very lucky to have a brand with such rich heritage and equity in Australia,” says Holt. “The challenge is now to share it with the rest of the world and make it globally relevant.”

A bold blend of activewear and streetwear, designs by P.E Nation nod to ’90s style and runway trends.

For emerging creatives who hope to generate a loyal following like Oroton’s, Holt says they must concentrate on the things they truly excel at, rather than those they’re simply good at. “Avoid going too wide. Be clear on your vision, establish your handwriting, understand who you want wearing your collection,” she says. From there, “diversify, innovate and have fun”.

The importance of innovation is echoed by the cofounders of the activewear/streetwear brand P.E Nation. Launched five years ago by long-time friends and collaborators Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning, it now boasts 55 staff and is sold in 50 countries via 600 touchpoints around the world. “We never thought we would be this big, this global and this fast,” says Edwards. Athleisure has rapidly morphed into Australia’s unofficial out-of-office uniform — a national market worth $3 billion, according to the research group IbisWorld. With its signature splashes of neon orange, pink and blue, P.E Nation offers customers bold, nostalgia-laden alternatives to the softer colourways of, say, the multinational incumbent Lululemon. In addition to channelling their own lifestyles to shape each collection, P.E Nation’s founders say they “design performance-wear through a fashion lens, drawing inspiration from runways and ’90s streetwear”.

In the survival-of-the-fittest ecosystem that is designer sportswear, commercial longevity requires a sturdy foundation. Edwards says it begins with a connection to the community. “We ensure that we put people, planet and purpose as our No. 1 driver in the business, and that everything we do relates to everyday life,” she says. “We adapt with the needs of today. We try to be in the now and are conscious of this and the reality of it — if you connect to that, you’ll always be relevant.” Tregoning seconds this: “We talk real talk, in real time, to our audience. We are in tune.”

Instagram’s Gargaro characterises this as “digital resilience”. She says: “Standing still is not an option. It’s important for brands to learn how to be constantly reading the room and adapt their heritages to the ongoing changes.” As for P.E Nation’s legacy? It’s simple: the two designers just want to do better. The aim, Tregoning explains, is “to create a fashion-forward activewear range that services many sporting activities and disciplines, while also having fashion credibility and social responsibility”. The ultimate goal, she says, is a “better, more sustainable way of life”.

A look from the debut collection of Gareth Moody and Maurice Terzini’s Nonplus brand.

While strategy certainly helps, there’s also something to be said for going with one’s gut — for some designers, success comes from seizing on a feeling and seeing how far it takes them. It’s an approach taken by the Sydney-based multihyphenates Gareth Moody and Maurice Terzini, the cofounders of Nonplus, a brand they describe as a “human union”. Moody (of Tsubi/ Ksubi, Chrønicles øf Never, Non-Type) and Terzini (Ten Pieces, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar) launched their debut collection of fluid, surf and punk-inspired menswear at a 2021 Australian Fashion Week show overlooking Bondi Beach.

To understand the brand’s identity, you need only look at its cofounders: Moody and Terzini say they design wholly for themselves. “We really don’t want to produce anything we probably both wouldn’t wear,” says Terzini. The result is a collection of soft suiting, leather separates and muscle tees. “The beauty of this project is it’s an evolutionary process and we’re feeling it out as we go,” says Moody. “Of course, we discuss and plan for the future, but we like the idea of taking it as it comes and letting it unfold naturally.”

Don’t let the wait-and-see attitude fool you — the founders have grand ambitions for Nonplus. Rather than designing collections that reflect the culture, they intend to create it. The vision, according to Terzini, includes “everything from great, epic parties to the development of other mediums such as crockery, glassware”. He adds: “We are currently working on a range of pre-batched drinks and minimal intervention wine that will reinforce our cultural values.” From retail and apparel to food, art, design and music, Nonplus represents nothing less than a vision for life.

A version of this article appears in print in our third edition, Page 92 of T Australia with the headline:
‘Architects of Desire’
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