In the July issue of Elle, Genevra Leek’s article, Back to Reality, called for an end to the ‘carnival scene” as fashion hit the richter scale and beyond with it’s eccentric take on “cool” (think oversized Elmo mittens, Lego inspired clutches and footwear that could be mistaken for Grandpas prized stuffed animal borrowed from the “mantle piece”).
In its place, a return to beautifully made, striking, luxurious pieces featuring simplicity and elegance; in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, (Simplicity is) the ultimate sophistication.
A small percentage of women around the world have “size “0” fashion bodies while the rest of us carry “non-fashion” bodies, and as we navigate the world of style our ultimate goal becomes to find pieces that fit and flatter.
The call to the side of fashion that is striking, feminine and classic is the passion and signature of Brisbane’s very own Sacha Drake, a favourite among some of our celebrity ‘favourites’ including Georgie Gardener, Lisa Wilkinson and Sonia Kruger.
Recently at Stylehunter we were lucky enough to chat with Sacha about amongst other things, her inspiration, why she chose Brisbane and whether or not jeans are a date night staple.
Who is the Quintessential Sacha Drake customer?
My customer loves quality clothing, is her own individual person and has her own sense of identity.
She appreciates the quality in well-designed garments and in many cases considers them an investment. She cares about her appearance. She is any age. It’s about the type of woman she is rather than a demographic.
From a design aspect my signature handwriting is striking but feminine. I’m not a prissy girl, I’m not a cool girl but I like things to feel feminine and strong – Classics with modern polish.
My customer is buying for longevity in her wardrobe.
It still feels right now, but it will also feel right in 3-5 years. I guess I am my customer.
What goes in to designing a collection?
When designing a collection your customer must be front of mind because it’s the essence of who you are designing for. It’s the thing that sets you apart.
I am passionate about garments that are flattering (nothing leaves my premises until I have the flattering aspect right). When I first started the label 12 years ago that basically meant flattering on me. I was always a size 14 with a fairly statuesque hourglass figure and a slight tendency toward a pear shape.
I started the label because I couldn’t find clothes in the marketplace that were flattering to my body –I wasn’t a fashion body, but I had a good body.
The next phase is when your designs get traction in the market place; when people want more of it you have to allow your garments to fit as many shapes and sizes as possible and I guess what drives me is to do the best for my customers, so that whoever walks in whether they be a pear or an apple shape they will be surprised and delighted that the garment looks good on them. My job is to be technically clever and proficient at what I do in order to build a piece that will flatter a lot of different bodies. That is the fundamental principal behind it.
What do we have to look forward to SS14/15?
Both the spring and summer collection feature a lot of my own print design.
I have played a lot with all sorts of random things and take inspiration from the objects around me including that chair you are sitting on!
When you have a boutique label, the point is to not look like anyone else’s label. That’s easy to say but when you have to create things that don’t look like anybody else’s it takes some nerve to know if you are heading in the right direction.
The whole point is to create something new and different. Its’ fun to get inspiration from objects around you, photographs you have taken; it keeps you focused on your own inspiration and creativity.
That sense of being unique and valuing expression and ideas has always been a part of who I am and I can’t copy people’s work. I have to go into my own zone and come up with the goods – it’s great, except when it’s not fourth coming. My staff are like “we need we need” and I’m like “it’s coming it’s coming it’s coming”
What do you believe sets Australian design apart from the US and European markets? Do you believe it is distinctively different?
There is an easy going innate “Australian-“ness” to Australian designs, often influenced by the warmer climate.
I have long held the opinion that people who exist in warm weather wear fewer layers and have a greater sense of physical freedom.
We are not too formal. Even when we get really dressed up, the average person is not wearing designer gowns; we are very familiar with being comfortable and I think the European market has a greater willingness to wear tailored pieces and women are more prepared to be uncomfortable.
Generally speaking, New York aside, I find the US market to be quite conservative and with a stronger tendency toward trends.
In Australia women possess their own individual style influenced by how they feel in their environment and how they want to look with a great deal of individuality expressed through clothing. I find this to be particularly true in Brisbane; and similarly in Perth, the more unique the design, the more desirable it is.
Costume design in London; Film making in Rome…now Brisbane. Why?
In my 20’s I never thought that I would end up in Brisbane. I travelled the globe and had many interesting experiences from a young age (I was 19 when I left for Italy). I came back a couple of times and worked between Brisbane and Sydney in the film industry and at around 28 decided I belonged in Melbourne.
Realising I was a sunshine girl, I returned to Brisbane. It was the classic scenario. I had no money, no money; lived with mum and dad and worked part time from a dusty old room in the back of a warehouse. I focused on developing my skills and that’s how it all began.
Being in Brisbane has never mattered from a business point of view. I have never looked back. I have lived in and love Melbourne and Sydney, but Brisbane is home.
Some of the most creative and independent thinking people I’ve ever met have come from Brisbane. They have had to create their own influences and that makes them, I believe, more creative and resourceful.
What’s next in the Sacha Drake story?
We have a number of interesting and exciting opportunities that we are participating in including the chance to be involved and engaged in media platforms that I have historically not been engaged with.
There are some exciting developments and improvements happening within the media landscape and we are very fortunate to be placed as a premium brand amongst these developments.
We also have people knocking on our doors to sell our brand both in the US and Brazil.
These decisions are a matter of deciphering whether the move is congruent with your core business. Growth is important, as is the awareness of appreciating where you are standing when others may be falling. You have to embrace what you are doing and keep excelling in the market you are operating in.
I’m not interested in fame; I just like creating clothes that woman feel confident in.
Designers, Fashion media and stylists are more courageous in trialing things but generally people out there don’t have the same confidence in self-expression through clothes, so if I can continue to help women achieve confidence through my designs then that’s great!
The final 4….
What has been your most extravagant purchase?
My Emma Hack painting . My 40th Birthday present…to myself. It’s exquisite in lilac, silvers and white – It’s feminine, calming and very pretty. It hangs in my office where nobody really goes but me, so thank you Sacha Drake for buying yourself that!
So far what has been your biggest pinch myself moment?
Every once in a while I’ll stop and realize I’m living the life I wanted.
I’m a fashion designer who earns a living, whose clothes are appreciated, and I get to create things and play with fabric…That’s my work!
I have the opportunity to reach my business potential. I have a great team, a great husband, and a great family.
The more and more I grow the more I appreciate my great fortune and privilege to have such a lucky life.
When you have a spare hour what’s your favourite thing to do?
Find some fabulous shoes!
I don’t get time for shopping very often so funnily enough that’s really a nice thing to do for myself. To buy something really cool.
Finish the sentence – Date night, jeans heels and a..
“I don’t wear jeans, so…. “date night… a great dress, heels and my husband! “
Read more articles by Jenni Sellan or follow Jenni