“It was the hottest day of the week – plus 40 degrees. The girls had to wear layers of coats and pullovers but we still had an amazing time running around the house and the backyard. It was so relaxed we almost forgot that we all just met each other that day. Girl power at its best.” After moving to Australia on a visa from her native Berlin, photographer Clara Nebeling gets a taste of what it’s like to live and work amongst creatives that march to a different beat than what she’s worked with back home. Upon finding Stephanie Frig‘s quirky graduate collection, she set up an exclusive collaboration with the designer, and us here at Zeum. Below we talk with Stephanie about her Autumn / Winter 2016, as well as chat with Clara about what it’s like to delve into the Australian fashion industry. Modelled by Sophie Wheale & Jess Thomas @ IMG.
Stephanie, how did you get started with fashion design?
SF | My grandfather was a tailor and my mother was always sewing as a child so it has always influenced my interest. I used to sew random bits and pieces together before going to parties. Originally I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue fashion design or if set designing would be the thing to do, but I knew I loved dressing up so I thought I may as well see where fashion design may take me.
Clara, What draws you to Stephanie’s collection?
CN | I just love how everything comes together so playfully; the colours, texture, different fabrics. I am a huge coat addict so my favourite piece is of course the oversize green and orange coat. Wearing coats might be one of the only things I miss with being here in Australia. (laughs)
Tell us about your process and drawings. What materials do you find yourself working with?
SF | My drawings have a tactile quality to them like my textiles. I never considered myself to be a great drawer, so my drawings tend to be large blobs of dried up acrylic paint with a smudge of oil pastel. When designing I try to figure out colour proportions and textile imagery, then that will allow for the rest to happen. Materialities excite me when designing, they need to involve a sense of instability and malleability. Within my recent collection and past work I have tried to dismiss the usage of flat print making and emphasise a new form of print – broadening my scope of textile opportunities. Hand made materials intrigue me as it can be spontaneous. You may set out to create a something of perfection but eventually will be saturated in imperfections making the designs even more desirable.
Who or what inspires you?
SF | The overall style of the 1960’s to the 1980s, in particular the films, interior decor and of course fashion of these decades. Decadence, colour saturation, textures, taste, imperfection, hoarding and dressing up is ideal. Soap operas that obsess over drama and suspense. My own family home and history inspires me and can be seen emotionally through the work that I produce.
You recently debuted your graduate collection. What was your inspiration behind AW16?
SF | With this collection I wanted to design something that I could relate towards personally and emotionally. This collection was inspired by the over adorned and excessive nature of the 1980s films created by Spanish film maker Pedro Almodóvar and elderly women in their Sunday Best. This collection is a tactile print led womenswear collection embracing an over embellished aesthetic where the lavish style of dressing to impress is obsessed upon. The use of structural box silhouettes saturated in immoderate textures and contrasting colour choices can be found. The collection takes elements of every day clothing and imbues them with a theatrical, exuberant aesthetic, reflecting a feverish desire unleashed.
If you could have anyone wear your label, who would it be and why?
SF | I would want to see my clothes on someone that I originally would not consider. I’d love to see Debbie Harry in my work, mainly because her strong personality could translate a whole new element in the attitude of the garments.
Advice to those wanting to study fashion design? What was a key lesson your University taught you?
SF | Fashion design can seem to be a fancy course, however it requires a lot of your time, daggy clothes and sleepless nights. It is the most personally fulfilling courses to do if you are passionate about developing your own style via fashion. Fashion can be confronting and uncomfortable, throughout my studies I learnt to constantly re-evaluate the expected and be open towards anything. Why waste your time creating something that is typical?
And Clara, what’s it like for you now that you’re working in Australia?
CN | Working here is bliss. Everytime I hear of cold fronts in Europe I am so grateful to enjoy another summer over here on the other side of the world. Australia makes it easy for you to feel right at home immediately.
How does the industry differ from the past countries you’ve shot in like Germany and France?
CN | The creative industry is not as competitive as it is in Europe, which results in people being more relaxed, I think. And even if there aren’t as many people there is still a lot of very talented creative people.
What’s next for you?
SF | My plans are to complete a fashion masters in either London or Antwerp. Afterwards, I would love to work within a fashion houses design or textile studio.
CL | I just wan’t to experiment a lot, try new things and see where life takes me. I don’t even have an idea of where I will go next but I am sure it will be fun, wherever it is!