Smena – A Fresh Look At Leather

SMENA – Jaklina Ristevski the Creator

Jaklina with her son wearing a gorgeous SMENA leather bodysuit and earrings

I attended a Melbourne Retail festival trade show scouting for inspiration. It was an interesting event with an eclectic array of designers and small fashion businesses under one roof, so very nice to see so many talented entrepreneurs.

I met many creative people and was pleasantly inspired, but I was drawn to SMENA, an intriguing stand decorated with handbags, clothing, wallets, and earrings, all made from beautiful soft leather.  It was all pretty impressive stuff and refreshing to see sustainable leather as the main focus of a business.


The creator behind SMENA, Jaklina Ristevski explained all about her collections.  To start with we talked about her very cool eye-catching earrings, consisting of triple layers of leather creating colour contrast, depth and very clever subtle ‘super’ cool style. I love them.  The range is exciting with different colour combinations, shapes and textures, really well put together. They look so stunning when worn, like a little piece of art, they stand out!

I wanted to know more about Jaki and her passion for running a business, knowing a bit more about her thoughts and choices?   I was very lucky to be invited to the SMENA hub. A lovely house buzzing with energy.  Below are some awesome answers to some of my questions.


20190424_7195What inspired you to start SMENA?

‘SMENA’, the feminine word for change in Macedonian, was brought to life after a visit to my parent’s homeland, where I acquired a deeper understanding of my heritage. From that moment, I was inspired and motivated to work hard to create a platform that would allow me to express who I am and my passion, sharing it with the world through design. SMENA was born.
My sister and I bought a few beads, wire and some second-hand leather jackets and pants and started to make a few things for us to wear. Friends saw our designs and were keen to buy…. Smena was born! By accident, a business started with friends at a store called RICH clothing in Fitzroy placed the first order for earrings. Over the next few months, I started to play with leather, designing and making cuffs and belts. My father, a qualified tailor who had also worked at a leather furniture factory for a while when he first migrated to Australia, helped me learn and we workshopped designs and ideas together. With no formal training, I felt freedom (and often mistakes) turned into one-off pieces of wearable art.




Where do you get your ideas from?

I gather ideas from all around me, architecture, design, landscape… leathers chosen often inspire a design that I believe would suit the leather. Conversations with people on what they look for in the perfect accessory. Travels back to “the homeland” and spending time with my family there I am always inspired by the landscape of Macedonia and the depth of history there. My travels around the world have always inspired me too, through architecture, art and seeing the street fashion in various countries.

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

My favourite place is my cutting table in my studio, surrounded by all of my leather that I have collected over the years. I have always held onto my leather, never throwing anything out as I know one day I will open a box and be surprised by what’s inside… often new designs are created in these moments.  Designing is the favourite part of running my business.  This process does not involve any drawing or any computer programs, it’s all done playing with various leathers (and fabrics) to see if the ideas in my mind can work. Production is definitely my second favourite, immersed in leather and creating each piece with a whole lot of love. Every single product that comes out of the studio has been worked on by me, that is super special to me, knowing that my passion and love lives on in every product.

Tell me more about your business?  Family involvement?



Although some might say I’m a one woman show…. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child….and I truly believe it takes a village to build a business! My family have always been very involved in Smena, my dad doing a lot of my sewing, my aunty is my queebee on my JUKI machine (who has decades of experience with leather accessories for various Australian brands over the years) my mama is my all round assistant and my 4 year old son is often by my side in the studio, a little gem inspiring new colour combinations and keeping me company.



Why leather?

I suppose this happened by accident at the beginning. Making earrings for my friends, my male mates asked me to make them something and at the time leather cuffs were the thing. I started by buying old leather garments from op shops and cutting them up. I love the texture, the various finishes and the feel of leather. Being a natural product and a by-product of the meat industry I believe it is important to use this rather than going to landfill. I am not into man-made materials and although we are looking into ethically and sustainably produced vegan leather, this would be included in our SMENA offering as an additional and alternative collection to the leather products.

What are your aspirations for your business?

SMENA is in what I call its 2nd incarnation, having started the business in 2002 and taking a 4 year break in 2012, I am excited about the re-birth and growth that we are currently experiencing. SMENA, true to its meaning of a name- is always CHANGING, although we continue designing and making in the same way we did all those years ago, the world is quite different now.

Over the years, I have witnessed many changes in the industry, including off-shore production exploding with many designers taking their production outside of Australia and choosing mass ‘fast fashion’ over meaning. Despite this, the development of SMENA has continued and the high-end nature and Melbourne-based manufacturing processes have remained unchanged. I am proud to share that SMENA products continue to be made by hand in our small workshop in Melbourne.


Functionality, endurance, superiority and sustainability are important elements in my work. All is considered, starting from the materials selected for each design and the processes followed, to the waste (or lack of) as a result of production – what would normally be considered as an off cut and waste, is turned into its own piece.

I am excited to continue this journey and create truly unique pieces. Made with experience. Made with love. Made with leather. Made in Melbourne. SMENA.



Who are your favourite designers?

Big designers are among my favourites; Maison Margiela, Rick Owens, Comme de Garcons, but I love finding and following smaller designers from around the world, one especially springs to mind, a real favourite, a homegrown talent, Toni Maticevski, a fellow Macedonian designer. (I agree with Jaki,  he is awesome, check him out  I also have a few favourites designers from Israel and Japan and also a couple from my favourite places to visit, Spain and Italy.


What do you think about the use of leather in fashion?

I do love leather in fashion…it is a timeless material that can be worn for years to come and live beyond any fashion craze. At this stage, sustainable as a by-product of the meat industry.

What do you think about sustainability in the fashion industry?

I think it is great that there is a strong movement to slow fashion and sustainability, although SMENA has always worked in this way, it is great to be part of this movement and we hope to educate and inspire, not only through SMENA but also in the companies we work with and by also supporting other labels who strongly believe and follow sustainable practices.

Functionality, endurance, superiority and sustainability are important elements in my work. All are considered, starting from the materials selected for each design and the processes followed, to the waste (or lack of) as a result of production – what would normally be considered as an off cut and waste, is turned into its own piece.
Our consumer knows the high standards we pride ourselves in, as well as know that by purchasing a SMENA piece they are making a conscious decision to support locally, ethically and sustainably made products… and that perhaps they are the only one (or one of very few) who will get to own that special piece that is as unique as they are.
Our mission is to keep our consumer satisfied with the quality, functionality and design of each and every piece, and those who champion the brand are constantly inspired by what is brought to life through the brand.



It’s always great to meet genuine and hardworking creatives like Jaki.  I felt the passion and determination from her and could see how hard she works and runs her life.  Her business is taking off after attending craft shows and markets here in Melbourne and Sydney, things are looking very exciting.  She’s putting herself out there and getting recognitions driving her to create more innovative products.  Smena is growing and building up momentum. Very exciting indeed.


I really feel it is important to add that while attending many fashion events and trade shows, it always makes me wonder how many new ideas and stylish products are out there undiscovered and unsupported.   I have mentioned in previous posts that there really should be more coverage and scope to these events.  A much-needed support system required to encourage exposure to creatives so we can finally have a well needed ‘new’ wave of quality fashion garments and accessories into a very dull and repetitive mainstream fast fashion market place.  Somewhere along the commercial line someone needs to take stock.



Thanks to Jaklina for showing me your lovely family world of SMENA.

Zoe x




Melbourne Fashion Week 2018


It was definitely a GetYaFashOn Melbourne Fashion week. So much to say! Here are some of the best bits.

I was lucky enough to see the Student Fashion Runway this year, where Melbourne’s Fashion Institutes select top students to enter  the prestigious MFW Student Of the Year. RMIT White House, Boxhill, Holmesglen, The Masters and Kangan Institute bring together the cream of the crop, it is one of the highlights of the week, an opportunity to see fresh and conceptual designs.


On arrival to the lovely Town Hall in Swanston Street, I headed to the meet and greet (Bar), which was decked out in the most wonderful blooms. The area was heaving with chattering creatives and finalists families.


The lights dimmed and the show started, the music pumping and the whole thing came together. Amongst the many collections there were some shining lights from  Intricate details, weaves and threading, shaped angle cuts and rounded colourful vibrancy. I was impressed by the energy and freedom of some of the work, allowing for free expression.  In my opinion, if a designer can’t be extreme at this stage in their career, them there is no point.  I love Kangan’s Neil Harvey – very bright and full of life and his designs reflected this x



The winner this year Helena Dong with her elegant use of angles and smooth fabric blends creating a clear concise collection ready to roll in the mainstream. Beautiful!

In the future, given that some of these talents are recognised and mentored, there is definitely a brighter colourful and exciting fashion future here in Melbourne.


CBD Runway – Dashing to Tattersall Lane in the CBD and just off China Town I came to an urban bar surrounded by tall buildings, great graffiti and city life. It looked great, the perfect place to show new collections. The word had got out and there were people from all over; fashion professionals to students and local office workers.  Everyone crowded in, drink flowing,  the anticipation high.  I loved it, what a fab idea to set runways throughout the city.  It really makes designers more accessible and brings fashion to the consumer.  Thanks Australian Fashion Council – genius!


The music was awesome –  the DJ did us proud bringing the street to life. The models saunter by, oozing street attitude. A great show, some pieces stood out with texture and print but I so want to see more colour and risk.


These runways are prime space to push new ideas, better styling, great make up and hair. The shows are an expression of what is happening in the Fashion world here in Melbourne, a reflection of the home grown talent and commerce.  The people need to see more exciting up beat ideas, with additional pieces challenging mainstream fashion, in my opinion.  There are so many designers coming up here,  take the Student Award Runway , these creatives are there, and we need to mention the lovely super talented Tess Whitfort, who has just won the GLOBAL Redress Award in Hong Kong and will be taking centerstage in the Australian and Global fashion forum. Lots to look forward to.


The Fashion Forum  – A fun day had by all.  An opportunity to hear from 3 stellar fashionistas; Mary Portas, Alex Perry and Edwina McCann.



It was great to get into the heads of these really down to earth experts, each with their own different take on the retail/fashion industry, the ‘Now’ and the future.  Their histories,  failings and successes, all great to hear.  Many subjects were covered, mainly from the audience. They talked candidly about Australian Department Stores, customer service, retail management, fundamental retail common-sense, mainstream brands, future layouts of the high street shops, internet shopping and how to make a difference in the current Australian market.


Mary Portas, a straight down-the-line kinda girl. I really can relate to her honest but charming approach.  She really is a peoples person, encouraging, supportive and so knowledgeable with such a great sense of humour. She sees the things that a lot of people have forgotten.

Alex Perry, a very down to earth business man, a strong family background, that resinates in his attitude and persona, hardworking, intelligent and honest. His business ‘none” business plan, the risk he took to get rolling and the fundamental need for customer service and understanding and sticking to his own brand. Impressive talent, easy to understand and approach.

Edwina McCann – although incredibly late (airline meltdown), she turned up with great enthusiasm dedicating her time to sustainability in fashion, championing Emma Watson for her recent collaboration with Vogue Australia and demonstrating Vogues finger on the pulse here.  A power punch advocator as Edwina,  forwarding the global need to change the way we see and think in retail and fashion is key in the future of fashion full stop. Her interesting speech was needed and hopefully her aims and ambitions will push through sustainable fashion to the High Street and the masses.

MFW is a great time to get shots of the new springs designs and get a bit of the atmosphere. So during my mad dashes around the city I captured a few items that really took my fancy.  Seems to be a lot of love in the air this season!


To close this article I just have to say that over the 3 years I’ve produced  GetYAFashON I have seen a significant change and momentum building in the Melbourne fashion sector. Each year more and more energy, ideas and events are organised, giving industry players , potential fashion influences, designers and business to connect and establish a foot hold.  Enviably this is leading the entire Australian fashion industry to generate economic and business development.  There should be more encouragement in funding down to grass roots level, from major corporations towards TAFEs and school level establishments to grow and nurture new talents. There is so much expertise and capacity here and financing is so needed. For all industry objectives, education is the key, pre and post grad. If it is already happening, let me know, I’d love to hear otherwise, so let’s hope this is something that starts to happen.

Thanks to Australian Fashion Council and Melbourne City Council for the Melbourne Fashion Week 2018.


Merchants Of Change


I came across Merchants of Change in South Melbourne Market.  I was drawn in by a beautiful stylish and as sexy as moss green fur jacket, calling me in ,”Buy me, wear me”.  Well, I just couldn’t help myself ……  So while staring and mentally putting together my next outfit, (with additional make believe purchase of super cool fur coat) I was approached by the lovely Emma, one of the founders. She had such passion and enthusiasm I had to feature them on GetYAfashON.

So Merchants of Change was created two years ago by Sia and Emma, two mums, started the business. Both having had careers in sustainability and community projects, they wanted to make a difference in the world and build a legacy for their children.  So setting out with the core philosophy of ,’People, Plant and Purpose’ they created Merchants of Change a business with a fundamental mission to help, educate and inspire.  

I asked them how they started?  

The merchant ladies loved the ethos of ‘Toms’, a now global eco-business that began when the founder, seeing the issues of growing up without shoes, he created a business model encouraging and implementing change. So every pair of shoes bought would be matched to a pair given to a child in needs. Toms have gone on to produce many products carrying similar policies, including cool eye wear.  Visit the shop to see the range.

From that point Sia and Emma invested time and energy into sourcing producers and partnerships with similar ethical companies.  Now Merchants of Change have up to 50 brands, selling an eclectic selection of clothing, shoes, hats, jackets, books, bags and jewellery…..Accessories galore. 


I asked them how they went about selecting products? 

Explaining that there is meticulous process when coming to buying and selecting new products, everything is considered the people that make the products, the impact on the environment, whether the products give back and helps the communities and that there is a purpose whether building business networks and creating sustainable industries.  To add to that Emma tells me, ‘We are all about, ‘Social change’. ‘It is down to us all to make a difference, great or small’.    

In my opinion it is all about exposure to new products and ideas to broaden our way of thinking.  It all sounds so ‘right on’ and ‘fighting for a course’, but it isn’t.  We really do have to take this to the next level and bring some change into our daily life and Merchants of Change are doing this in an inspirational way by simply inviting people to learn, see and understand new products and their stories.  

I’ve photographed the shop and so many of items, but a few super cool items really stood out to me and I want to share.


‘Bubish’, is the label and Sia explaining that it was really fur, ‘Rabbit Fur,” to be precise. This jolted me “Real Fur?” a shock of delight actually. Although massively controversial, fur is biodegradable natural product which would help with today’s current global issues of wastage and pollution in the fashion industry.  Some of you will find that difficult to take on, and of course I respect your views, but I think it’s time we put this issue on the table for discussion. Why not fur??? 

Obviously – the way an animal is treated is paramount.  I’m totally against animal cruelty, but quite honestly, I am the kind of girl who is not against fur.  It’s not like you’re EVER going to see me in a mink coat, as I don’t believe in animals bred for fur.  Whereas Bubish who use ethically sourced fur, cast out from our food industry,  which might make the idea more palatable.  Why not… as I eat meat, wear leather shoes and have leather handbags, coats, skirts etc, etc…. it feels ok to me.  It’s also really important to know that although fake fur is very good in quality and appearance these days the production is highly pollutive to the environment.  I’m sure that real fur has its issues in production and of course the industry would need strict regulations in place to work, but this could be part of the needed solution to many waste and pollution concerns.  In my opinion it’s a very ecological approach.  I would really be interested to know what your views are on the use of fur and fake fur in the fashion industry?



Ena Pelly – leather tanned jacket – Another beauty, so well made and to know that the jackets and skirts are made from ethically sourced leather and that the tanning process causes minimal effects to the environment.  


Zoe Kratzmann Shoes and Clothing – I’m a shoe girl – I LOVE shoes, it’s an addiction and I know every time I try to close my cupboard I know it’s time to seek help, but not today.  When I saw the Zoe Kratzmann boots I considered selling my sole. (PUN not intended).   An Australian company, ethically sourced leather, producing the coolest boots, as cool as boots go.  Really well designed and put together.  Slightly different to your average mainstream. I would suggest you take a visit to the website or go down to meet in person so you can drool.  


Love Chunks – This is a product that made me think of the popular jewellery makers, who encourage collecting of charms.  Noosa Amsterdam sells chunks, like a charm, there is a difference, clip on like a press stud, they are cool and super bohemian, so on trend for this summer. Each design is created by one of 400 global artists.  Noosa Amsterdam partner up with the Nepalese Fair Trade Group creating an organisation that employs these artists, providing good working conditions and a better life for their families and ensure that the children attend school.  These chunks are designed to be added to leather belts, bags, wallets and bracelets. So if you want to be individual then I recommend a look.

Aritcle 22 really opened my eyes. Stunning simplistic elegant pieces of jewellery designs that transform a negative story to a positive.  Very controversial as these products are handcrafted from Vietnamese war shrapnel. Each piece helps clear unexploded ordnance, making land safe and providing new metal to artisans, a virtuous circle and pioneering idea, bringing industry and opportunity to artists making the most of their environment. I really love this brand, it’s my kind of jewellery.


‘Partnering with artisans in off-the-beaten-track places to create modern heirlooms with particular provenance’ – Article 22

Living in the World we live, there are so many conflicting ideas about how we should think, what we should buy, how we can help and what we have to do to save our Planet and respect the people on it.  Its extreme in some cases, and I must say it’s a challenge.  It all comes down to education and awareness. We all have to open our minds to hear and understand, not just what the big corporations and the governments are feeding us.  

We have to take notice now – sustainability needs to be part of mainstream fashion. If it’s not happening already, money should be invested by the big fashion and industrial corporations, developing sustainable science, creation of new fabrics, and techniques to solve and improve environmental issues, building ecological and free trade between first and third world countries and taking away the middle man.  


It is a feel good experience shopping at Merchants of Change.  So many amazing eco friendly, biodegradable super on-trend products in one shop, easy to get to and great ideas.

Make change – ‘Have your nice things that do good’ – Sia – Merchant of Change 


There are so many trinkets and lovely things to see.  Please find all details of stock and prices on the website – it will give you all relevant information and tell you more about the products and how you would be giving back to the World. or go and meet Emma and Sia !

Please take at look Instagram @GetYAfashON for video interviews – listen to Sia and Emma’s stories of their lives, passions and ideas behind their business.


If you would prefer to visit us, pop in for a coffee and explore our beautiful products at:

So Me Space – Sth Melbourne Market

Merchants of Change

Stall 60, Aisle B Sth Melbourne Market

Corner of Cecil and Coventry Streets,

South Melbourne, Victoria 3205

Ph: 0481 367 076







Tess Whitfort – Redress



Tess Whitfort has been very busy over the last 6 months. A designer with strong ethics that are fundamental in everything she stands for, especially  sustainability and  animal welfare.  She is someone who takes a theme and develops a concept that runs through her entire collection and is absolutely  determined to shake up the ‘eco- fashion’  ideal  by introducing modern  techniques and  fabrics with intentionally  designed  textures, colours,  prints, and styles to attract client’s who have a standout style and an awesome rebellious attitude.

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Tess creating a textured print for one of her garments

This hard working, forward thinking, talented designer graduated from Box Hill Institute, winning the Box hill Institute Degree Student of the Year Award 2017 after winning  the Melbourne Fashion Week  Emerging Student Designer Award, all in the same year. Very impressive credentials to start, but she has now been selected as one of 11 semi-finalists for the global Redress Design Award 2018.


Originally there were  10 finalists, but the talent was so impressive this year that an extra finalist has been selected.  The competition brings together the cream of the crop of emerging designers to create unique  collections. The competition aims to  accumulate designer’s skills, mentor  their  talent,  and bring sustainable fashion and the ‘Up Cycle’  movement  into the spotlight of the global fashion industry.

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The ‘Game-Changers’ have been selected from thousands of entries. Tess, along with 10 other designers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Israel, Philippines, Japan, France, UK, Spain, Denmark,  India and Australia have been invited  to the  HKTDC’s Centre-stage during  Hong  Kong  Fashion Week 2018 (August 27 – 7 September )  to  showcase their unique  collections  specifically designed for this event. It’s all very top secret, SO  NO PHOTOS  (YET).   The benchmark is high from the start and the results are going to be outstanding.

I’ve checked  out some of the  rules taken from the ‘Applications Guidelines’,  in a few words it’s;  strict and  challenging.  The guidelines request that, ‘The  designers need to produce all  evidence of re-inventing’, bringing together innovative ideas, ‘reconstructing and  reclaiming textiles in an unexpected way’.    This  sounds so fascinating.

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The designers need to  reflect all ‘opportunities for reproducibility, scalability and marketability’ bringing in ‘re-imaging’ and ‘Innovations to improve the garments lifecycle’. The requirements go on and on, there is a lot to cover. The Applicants Guideline states ’TO WIN, YOU MUST’….. OK …here we go, in a nutshell… ‘Create three ready-to-wear outfit sketches (complete outfits not necessary at this stage) for your application for construction using textile waste’ … If  successful in becoming one of the ten finalists, they need to make these three ready-to-wear sketches into complete outfits, with an additional complete ready-to-wear outfit and one showpiece for the grand final fashion show’. Easy, right?

Guidelines to  ’Impress the judges’…. Yay …so……,’For the Open Application and Semi-Final judging, your designs will be scored in three categories 1) Creativity and originality, 2) Sustainability and 3) Marketability – based on the creative design brief. For the grand final judging, an additional category of Workmanship will be added when the judges view your collection in person’.    Additionally, tasks the designers are expected to adhere to are; ‘During the grand final trip you will also be observed in order to assess your understanding and application of sustainable design strategies and processes during the various challenges’.  The  competitor’s design  techniques and textile  requirements lists are very  specific, requesting strict accountability on the following: (Quoted from application guidelines) .


  • ‘Definition: A design technique that eliminates textile waste at the design stage’.
  • ‘Technique: Any zero-waste design technique such as, zero-waste pattern cutting, draping, smocking, plaiting and fully fashioned knitting are permitted’.
  • ‘Textile selection: Textile waste must be used for zero-waste designs’ .

Applicants can combine the techniques within any of their garments. Oh yes and of course, applicants must source 100% textile waste for use in their collection……NO pressure then….

The Prizes – Tess is nervous but excited to visit Hong Kong, where she will be  surrounded by contemporaries and peers. She’s well on the way with her 5 piece collection. I’ve seen some pieces, but we  definitely can’t show such confidential work. Secrecy being the operative word!

This prize is awesome, the winner will not only  gain this  acclaimed award,  but  endorsements and mentoring from some of the top people in the fashion World. Winner’s are invited to join ‘The R Collective’ the new up- cycled fashion brand and will go on to create their collection for retail, spending additional time in  Hong Kong to finesse their collections, all expenses paid, with an  incredible opportunity to design and implement a  marketing  strategy to launch their full collection in to  real world retail.

Tess mentions that she will be filmed  throughout the experience for a documentary TV series.  The exposure will be phenomenal and having worked with her a few times, she is confident, professional and camera ready.

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I wanted to know some more about what other things she’s been doing after graduating?

Just after graduation she went for the Redress Competition and began working at Harlow, an online plus size clothing manufacturer, which has given her the opportunity to learn the feel of a commercial set up and taught her some valuable business  acumen for the future, bringing me to the question about the launch of  her own  label, ‘Pendulum’?

“Still ongoing”, she  smiles, “but  definitely busy with Redress at the moment”.

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Back to Redress then, what’s it like to be selected for such a  prestigious global Award?’

A few nerves, but excited overall, “A lot to do, very busy creating ”. She’s  taking it all  in her  stride.  Tess explains more about her concepts  and themes for this competition. “This collection is inspired by counter culture, the punk movement, how people express their personality, their values through the clothing, and how clothing relates to our mood and attitudes”.  I’m very eager to see the outcome.

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A lot of work, but this girl has got a lot going for her and is doing so well.  Her head is constantly in process, working and  examining  techniques and ideas.  She is a very ambitious lady.  I have to say she does things in a calm and methodical way.  She  laughs when I  compliment her.  I loved her direct and honest approach saying, “I’m not really interested in the glamorous side of fashion so much as the creative side. Designing clothing allows me to combine all of my skills and interests.”  She Adds, “I’m not very interested in commercial trends,  it’s the technology and procedures that really inspire me and the knowledge to advance”.

It’s great to meet such an innovator who is so keen to learn about the future technology. She is someone who is ready to get involved in automation, machine  learning and AI.  Tess is a pioneer. I’ve seen her zero-waste pattern cutting system  she’s designed, that is so impressive  and such an  indication of where her career could lead, clearly she’s pushing hard to get exactly what she wants and definitely has what it takes.

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Follow @GetYAfashON Instagram to hear Tess explains more about her Zero- Waste Pattern Cutting System

Tess is refreshing and original, her professional career is just starting and the future is going to be very interesting for Tess Whitfort, already she is making her presence felt.  I’m so looking forward to learning more about her progress at the Redress Design Awards. GetYAfashON  is a BIG supporter of  Tess  Whitfort -So watch this space for news!!

Exciting times!

Thanks Tess for inviting me over and allowing me into your World. It was great to hear your thoughts and aspirations. Good Luck with everything,  I’m looking forward to the next catch up x

To learn more  about Redress check out this link

Follow Tess @tess.whitfort 

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La Mode Finale – Boxhill

A very exciting night, the energy was high. The event was a massive creative collaboration of the following Bachelor courses; Fashion, Fashion Merchandising, Hospitality Management, Music Audio, Cert Live productions and Technical Services, Cookery , Hair and Make up.

Back stage I met the models, designers and organises preparing for the show.  Everyone was fired up and ready to go. The layout and lighting of the catwalk was dramatic, a clear run for the models, ensuring a full display of garments.


The models began to walk, flashing lights, the music was powerful, pumping up our heart rates. The models appeared and worked the catwalk.

Each designer had a section.  In between each slot – the designers flashed up on a screen documenting their work. All collections where impressively displayed. It was great.

I had the opportunity to meet all the designers and see garments up close. I was lucky enough to get an interview wiht Isobel Hyland and Tess Whitford.

Isobel Hyland

Having seen Isobel’s work I was eager to meet the face behind the lively, cool creations.  We met and got straight down to the nitty gritty.  She has spent the last 3 years studying fashion at the Boxhill Fashion Institute coming from Geelong.  This mindful, super focused awesome lady has pushed hard to get everything from the course. Her study of fashion, history and technique has evolved in every assignment presented.  She has grasped the knowledge and readily taken it in, facing challenges to improve her understanding and abilities.  At the outset her views were different, more of her reflection of her own personality and identity, as she grew and developed her view evolved and confidence flourished.  The more she opened to the ideas of art and fashion the more she learnt, saying ‘I love the idea of taking inspiration and putting together an art form and placing on a body’. She really got into the course, at Boxhill, telling me; ‘I found the course well planned , with  a strong emphasis on technical and traditional skills, cutting and pattern making, business development and fashion industry scope. It’s certainly focused to push all the students to achieve incredible work.

We talked about Vivienne Westwood and Raf Simons working at Dior, we drew a comparison of her working in an internship and thrown in to an organisation and having to get to grips, producing a brand and business with strong traditional ethtics and style, where there is little room for individual creativity.  Isobel happily tells me how she loved the challenge and embraced the task at hand cleverly using the little margin she had to developed and add her stamp. I love her energy!!

The course has a structure to develop and educate for a more ethical and sustainible future for fashion.  This theme runs very strongly through Iobel’s work. The fabrics and foundations of her work are designed to respect and use sustainable procedure from the start. She wants to change people’s opinion on ‘fast fashion’ and the damage the fashion industry is doing to our environment. She is keen to have her clients feel a sense of ethics and pride when wearing her garments.

Isobel is a designer with business acumen speaking Japanese she carries herself well and has a confident edge and super charisma; she will go along way.  I’m excited to keep track of her success.   I asked her what she wanted to do now she has finished the course?  She tells me her short term objectives, ‘Maybe working in Japan in a fashion house or business, taking the opportunity to grow and learn new skills to prepare for future endeavours.



I’ve met Tess a few times and have always be taken back by her professionalism and direct approach to what she wants and what she needs. She has worked in a few internships, enjoying working with Lois Hazel (a Melbourne based designer), where she learnt so much about running a label.


Her work is exciting, energetic and fresh. The detail and tailoring is fantastic and overall her vegan made clothes philosophy is strong and passionate, adding to this Tess fundamental belief and aim is sustainability, experimenting with new and old fabrics to get a fresher look and textures to her garment. She explained her volcano theme to last collection and the process of sticking to coated knitted fabrics together and laser cutting lines and shapes to create a dramatic and edgy look. The collection is outstanding – really well created. Tess tells me her geological inspirations for the ‘Caldera’ is based on the knowledge that most of the surface of the world is designed by man.  The volcano represents power of nature again and the destruction of man made work. The colours and tailoring of this work is so cool, different fabrics have been pulled together to give an explosive affect.  It was great to see the whole collection coming down the catwalk.

We talked about marketing demographics, money and expectations of what, as a society expects and how we should be more real to ourselves. We covered Alexander McQueen, Chanel and the accessories created by these fashion houses to pay for the couture and the art.  An intimidating world of money and brand.  I don’t think Tess has much to worry about!


Tess won Melbourne Fashion weeks ‘Emerging Student Designer’ – she will receive a monetary prize to help her start her business with support and mentoring from the Council of Textiles and Fashion and will be a judge for next weeks event. There are a lot of offers coming in, and I think her life is going to be even busier.

She is so eager to get going with her own label. Naturally nervous, as it’s such a big step. I’m certain she’s ready. She tells me about her studio at home and how her family are creative entrepreneurs, who are really excited to see her begin her fashion business. She has chosen a name for her label – ‘Pendulum’, which encapsulates the essence of her energy to a tee. Love it. The plan is to wholesale at first and run an online business and then who knows where her talent will take her.Watch this space!

Both young and innovative, the World needs shaking up and I think these ladies are going to rock the boat.

Very happy and excited  – I think Melbourne fashion is going to boom with such talents coming out of the TAFE’s and Universities. What is needed is more funding and support from the corporate world.  More sponsors and events run by local business, fashion businesses and governmental programs to draw more attention to the future of art and fashion in Melbourne and Australia. Let’s hope that there will be an advancement to the development of the fashion here and all students are driven and pushed by mentoring and financial schemes aiming potential economic opportunity and growth for this country opening peoples minds and moving the fashion industry forward.

Many thanks to Boxhill for inviting me to such prestigious event. It was a real privilege to see such great work and meet some awesome, new young designers.

Thanks to Tess Whitford and Isobel Hyland for your time. Your energy blew me away ! I wish you both all the best in your careers and I will be keeping close eye on your progress, love Zoe xxx.

Todd Anthony – Melbourne Mecca

A few month ago I was invited by Todd Anthony to his self funded fashion Expo. I had heard great things about Todd Anthony, I was so eager to get more insight and a story behind the designs.


The show “Hybrid 524′, the invitation stating ‘Be the first to meet some of Melbourne’s most innovative designers showcase their brand new collections’. ‘Get up close and personal’. ‘Opportunity to mingle and share a glass of bubbly’.  How could I refuse!!

On arrival I was greeted and introduced to Todd.  I think I was instantly magnetized.  A super charismatic man with the very personable approach. He stood out for all the right reasons and I was taken aback by his attention to detail, his attentiveness to others and his incredible ease and warmth of character. There were many people there and I wanted to stand back and capture the atmosphere and the energy around him and get a general feel.

I’d been working with an awesome model Sam Carson, I wanted to have him work with Todd on this project, so all was organised setting up a studio in Todd’s apartment.  It was a very exciting creative mix of talent that really worked well, each of us pushed to get the best.



During our shoot we talked about so many things. I asked him what made him decide to start a career as a fashion designer?

Todd tells me about his career as a professional dancer, ‘Dancing from eight and always feeling  invincible, as I got a little older I felt my body change and realised the impending end to a happy dance career’.  An inevitable life shift faced by all dancers, he knew he needed to do something that had the same combination of creativity and discipline, affirming ‘The only thing I could think of was fashion’. With strong ambition and determination he studies both undergraduate and masters degrees at Whitehouse Institute of Design.  The undergraduate in Sydney and masters in Melbourne.

His career has flourished, lecturing at the Fashion Institute in Melbourne, I wanted to know more about his development, what he teaches and the way he sees fashion eduction today?

‘I teach design’, adding, ‘Illustration and design business looking at brand marketing and such. I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. It is a magical thing to do’, saying with great satisfaction, ‘Inspiring others to create is a wonderful privilege’. He is a very amiable person, with a passion to advance others and with this creative and progressive personality he has tutored and nurtured many students, enriching their learning not only with his knowledge of fashion but his life experiences.

Tell me what you see in the students?

‘In the beginning I see fear and uncertainty but day by day I see each student grow in their individual way.’ He finds, ‘At some point throughout their degree a ball will drop or a sparkle of light will come and that’s the moment I think. Ha! that student is now a designer’.   

It must be a very rewarding experience the conception and spark of creativity and seeing unique designs take shape, I ask how do you approach teaching fashion?

He explains that his priority is to give the students contemporary design knowledge without creating baby Todd’s ‘I nurture all aesthetically’ directions.

Back to the Hybrid Event, I  found it interesting that three designers, including Todd, self funded the event. Why?  Private funding?

‘Yes I collaborated with three other creatives all of us producing local and ethical products but all showcasing something different. Yes we funded the event ourselves. We wanted to test this small boutique static trade showcase idea to see how the industry would respond. It was terribly successful so we will do it again’.


Do you think that major corporations should be backing the fashion industry?

“YES YES YES so should the Government’. Todd’s eyes rolling, he adds,’ I believe there is sooooo much opportunity within this country for manufacturing of both textiles and products’, ‘Our best graduates leave Australia for the North in order to make their way. There is so much talent so much land so much money to be made. I actually am totally perplexed that finding funding is so difficult’.

For all the contacts I’ve made in this while working on this blog, the general feed back is grim when it comes to funding and support of up and coming designers.  The Council of Textile and Fashion are working hard to push development and growth in the industry forward, but what about corporate funding or even lottery funding (as in the UK).  There must be many schemes that could and should be designed by larger corporates.  I am very eager to know if this is happening? I know that Myer works with RMIT and Cotton On have a student training project, but why have the large corporates not been putting their name to schemes, grants and awards and funding of the Universities and TAFE’s? Getting new grads financial opportunities to take their new enthusiastic energy to the next level. I would very much like to be part of this and feel that the gap needs to be filled.  With the right funding and investment the fashion industry could evolve into a something massive and contend with other business sector economical pullers.

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Can you tell what inspired you to do your own expo?

He answers, “For years I have been lecturing my students to support local suppliers. Manufacture locally and consider ethical and eco design. I wasn’t doing that myself. I felt fraudulent and thought screw this I’m going to show them it can be done. It took me 18 months but I did it.’

Its great to see that the show was a success, I know how hard Todd worked to get that off the ground. It crucial that more financial support is directed for designers fashion expo events.  Todd definitely has the right ideas getting people involved face to face, networking and putting the designer and the business together.

I want to see more events like this and am looking forward to the next one. I will keep you all posted on Todd’s plans. If you know about funding and supporting new up and coming designers, I would be interested.

I asked what do you think about the Melbourne fashion industry?

Reinforcing his view on talent here, he thinks the Melbourne fashion industry is astonishing ,’I’ll tell you why, Designers here do not have access to a lot of new fabrications and technologies that the rest of the world can access so readily. This creates great opportunity for innovation and that’s what Melbourne designers do. They create and innovate because they have to. I call them engineers rather than just designers’.

How do you think the fashion industry here can be pushed into the global market? How do you feel about that?

‘The way fashion or Australian fashion is showcased and promoted needs to change. I love a good fashion week but. Fashion showcases move in trends as does fashion itself. The way in which we promote Australian design needs to be considered carefully and this goes back to the financial support as discussed earlier’.

I think that is so significant, Todd and I see the standard here in Melbourne. Its eco development and growth in innovation is thriving, it’s exciting and the future looks bright, but it still comes back to funding and financial. Lets get things moving before the talent ships off to other countries never to be seen again.

What do you think about Australian fashion to European fashion?

Todd thinks its major difference with Australian fashion to European is that the Australian consumer is far more conservative when it comes to dressing.  ‘Mind you’  he jokes ,”This is a generalisation because at some of the events I beam with smiles at men in sparkles and women in heels so high I get vertigo. But generally Australians are not as adventurous with fashion’.


So where do you see the Melbourne made fashion in the future? Do you think there is a market place for ‘Melbourne Made’?

Todd feels there are so many strong innovative Melbourne designers again, he mentions that all need a platform in which to promote showcase and sell. ‘Melbourne has the space and the interest’, which is good to know.  He sees that the fashion climate is changing with the big European guys coming in. He wants Australian Designers to innovate again and ‘play the game differently than ever before’. Todd’s view, ‘It will all be about the entire experience for the consumer. Melbourne designers need a story they can share and an experience they can deliver. How wonderful’.

I agree – mainstream, mainstream, mainstream – its time for a shake up – more big business and department stores, not only need to re think their approach to brands, they need to take some risks and get behind independent Melbourne designers. It does sound right and the talent is outstanding here, a change is needed, bring it on!


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So when Todd isn’t busy lecturing, he manages to squeeze in the time to design and run a successful fashion business.  Having seen and photographed his garments, I was eager to get more information about his ideas behind his concepts and more about Todd Anthony. I asked him about his designs and inspirations?

‘My designs are inspired by the things I love which are. Japanese flowers, Art Deco furniture and Australian birds’, mentioning,’ I use fine virgin wool and bamboo knits’. Every piece is draped and can be worn numerous ways due to the buckles used as closures. ‘I design for myself, meaning if I wouldn’t wear it it doesn’t get made’.


You mentioned that you aren’t keen on your designs being labelled ambiguous? How would you describe your work?

Todd’s clothes are menswear, explaining, ‘By having a soft aesthetic myself, lots of women showed interest in what I was doing’. He makes it clear that, ‘It’s not unisex that makes me think of women dressing masculine nor is it’s androgynous because that makes me think of boys dressing feminine, so I call it non binary. My designs don’t seem to favour masculine or feminine they just are’.

The designs flow around the body.  The fabric choice works, giving a soft and tactile appearance.  Some of the clothes are almost seamless, just hanging.  The clothes can be dressed up and down allowing a versatile and modern style.


You have done a lot in your life? What are your future ambitions?

He answered, ‘It sounds naff but I don’t make long term goals. As a dancer I learned that once you achieve a goal as wonderful as it is you feel instant terror. Where now? It’s done and now I’m lost. The goal is simply to keep going and to enjoy the process as I move forward. To be happy with my work true to my braving and ethos and to inspire change in the consumers mind to embrace and support local design’.

Who inspires you in life ? His response, My mother and father. They see the real me and do nothing but love me’. This is so evident when you meet Todd, a strong image with self confident and positive persona. I’d say beautiful, not just in appearance, but all his soul.

Who are you inspirations in fashion? I love Todd’s answers,’I miss Joan Rivers. Lol. I know I know but she did inspire me. She said “anyone who takes fashion too seriously is an idiot” whenever I overthink or if I am having difficulty in trusting myself or even worse if I start to doubt my work I think of that quote’.


For a very ambitious man a question that need to be asked – Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

His answer, ‘Working from my little farm in the middle of nowhere in my onsie, with my laptop, living off the grid developing new and better design that is transparent ethical sustainable and local’.  Love it ! A perfect way to go!

I had the best time working with Todd, British born, he hasn’t forgotten his British sense of humour. Living here most of his life, He’s a true success!

Thank you for the jokes, sarcasm and fab stories x

Thanks to Sam Carson for his awesome work and the lovely Matthew Saint Clair for your fantastic make up and hair work xx

Find Todd Anthony on














Brian Huynh is a cool and unassuming menswear designer, based in Melbourne. I ran into him in the Curated Pop Up.  His collection is made with lovely wools, cottons and Japanese tempiboshi treated cotton.  The smooth simplistic cuts and quality of his suits and jackets got my attention.


Brian studied at the Whitehouse Institute of Design here in Melbourne.  Was it his ambition to be a designer?  ‘No’ was the answer, he tells me, ‘I was convinced I wanted to be an Optometrist’. After one year of studying  at the University of Melbourne he soon realised that it wasn’t his vocation and decided to use his natural creative ability, also  coming from a line of sewers, it didn’t take long to find his calling, clearly he’s never looked back.


On asking him what inspired him to go it alone in business?

His reply ,’I think as with any creative process, there’s always an extension of self, so I think it was really important for me to have autonomy in my design and delivery’.  Brian  radiates an uncomplicated confidents, very conscientious and calm in his approach to life and work.


He tells me more about MNDATORY’s philosophy, ‘It was born from the idea that classic menswear has always been utilitarian in its approach – designed not for fashion or trend, but for function. Because of this, I found that many historical garments still form much of today’s modern male wardrobe’. Brian adds, ‘ Iconic garments like a Bomber Jacket, whilst often updated and reinterpreted, are by and large reiterations of well-known themes. So, whilst the originals set benchmarks for all subsequent versions of their kind, our focus at MNDATORY is to innovate on the recognisable’.


Brian finishes by saying, ‘MNDATORY is really for the modern man – a self-taught, well-versed, innovator’. His brand remains as a classic aesthetic that empowers customers to wear garments in their own individual way.


How do you come up with the ideas of each collection? Is there a specific process?

He starts each collection, designing and prepping a ‘concept board’, beginning with a compilation of colour palettes and then draws inspiration and mood into the collection.  It is a different method that steers away from the traditional mood board approach.


Tell me where you source your fabrics?

His fabrics are  sourced either locally here in Melbourne, or if offshore adding  ‘there’s a heavy focus on artisanal Japanese cloths’. The selection and flow of fabric is a key fundamental requirement for the constuction and form of each garment.


Brian takes a philosophical view on life, having a strong aptitude, ingenuity and a constructive energy which resinates in the productivity.  He is strongly influenced by ‘Louis Kahn’ a highly regarded architect of our time who strongly believed materials had  a sense of their own destiny in a project’. Brian explains this theory, ‘It’s all about honouring the materials you use and allowing them to express themselves’. Brian works his initially,  constructing and designing his created thoughts led by the fabrics themselves. He tells me,’I work backwards in a way, beginning by sourcing the fabric and allowing the fabric to inform the design of the garment’, adding, ‘It’s fundamentally a process of self-actualisation’.


I wanted to know about his key influences in his life?  He tells me, ‘My own story to tell’, but mainly influence his fiancée, ‘The reason why I went into fashion’.

So what drives the man behind MNDATORY?  His answers, ‘Self-actualisation’, informing me about Abraham Maslow, another noted philosopher, with his work  “A Theory of Human Motivation” (worth looking up). He adds, “The desire to become more and more 20171009_1493what one is”.  It’s a very admirable way to go about life, the constant striving for self perfection in all elements of life.  This constantly challenging and progressive creative formula has push MNDATORY to acquiring a notoriety in the Melbourne fashion scene.


I ask about the inspirations in fashion business ?

He mentions three major fashion players, firstly, Jean Touitou, the founder of  the very successful A.C.P. the creator of the ‘life style concept’ store and cool ‘prêt-á-porter’ fashion. Touitou pulls collaborators, working creativity to develop strong and continuous brands, avoiding the ‘trends’ and fast fashion.  A very successful business that as run for 30 years, with Touitou at the helm making a substantial influences in fashion market place today.


Brian continues talking about another philosophical, entrepreneurial fashion designer and Empire creator, Ramdane Touhami, then Paul Harnden, a super talented designer, using stunning fabrics and cool clean tailoring, (Love his shoes and clothes, worth a look). All very highly focused individuals, talented in many ways, with defined quality to grow, develop and learn in a creative business fashion.


Is this going to be MNDATORY concept here in Melbourne?

He examples ‘We’re currently also in the process of finding a location for a permanent flagship – a joint venture with local labels Scott Benedictine and A.BCH. Watch this space’.

I think this is awesome news, having met this super trio of fashion design talents, I am very exciting and will follow their progress.


To close the interview, I asked about future plans?

‘A runway is definitely on the cards’. MNDATORY will continue running more pop-ups in 2017, working in conjunction with the Council of Textile & Fashion.

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I asked him where he sees himself in 10 years?

“Learning’, was his response.

I very much enjoyed meeting Brian an understanding more about his point of view of the world, fashion, business and creativity. With this knowledge I can safely say how this business and designer will be a great success.

Please check out the website to see all the range and the ‘Made-To-Measure’ tailoring service!


I want to thanks MNDATORY for allowing photograph a beautiful collection. It was great fun working Sam Carson, a cool up and coming model. It was great fun working together on this project.

Thanks again x

Male Model Portfolio – Sam Carson

I spotted Sam on the train. I gave him my card, explained briefly about my photography and blog and; that was that. I was delighted when he got back to me. We arranged a meeting and started to plan his portfolio. Sam has a very unique look that sets him apart from other models. This contemporary appearance and strong attitude he carries is perfect for editorial work. I’m not sure if Australia is ready for him, but I’m hoping that attitudes change and more mainstream designers take on this new look, which is found more in European and Asian markets. I would like to see Sam break the mould and set a new presence for male models here in Melbourne. Onwards and upwards!

The images presented are for our first photoshoot and the beginning of his portfolio. While we worked I asked him if he’d ever considered modelling before?

‘I only started thinking about it more seriously this year because it seemed more realistic to me’.  Sam is at still at school and concentrating on his studies, wanting to study Film and TV Media Courses at University.  His sights are firmly on the future, and he is out there making connections with people in the industry.  He adds, ‘Through studying photography, I kind of naturally became more interested in the modelling side of things too’.


Sam had never modeled before, but as a photographer he understood light and composition. We made a good team. It was clear that from the first shot how good he was, clearly photogenic, he followed direction and overall the shoot was very productive. He is a very intelligent young man and is definitely going to make his mark.

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We chatted about Bill Eggleston and how amazing it is to see and grasp the gravity of talent by such an accomplished photographer.  We talked about the craftsmanship of darkroom and large colour print development, we covered camera techniques and Sam explained about photographer Phillip Lorca diCorcia, and his Hustlers, the series; definitely worth a look.  I could see these influences in Sam and his psyche.  These inspirations are what make models standout, this substance and depth is key to a successful modelling career, models needs to switch into roles and translate this energy on set.


I asked him about his inspirations in fashion?

‘In fashion and any kind of art, I’m most inspired by something that changes my perspective on something. If an outfit makes you rethink how you see things, it’s really exciting’. Sam is not openly rebellious, maybe demur, he his refreshing and needed in the industry today.  He adds,’I love being around new and interesting people because it means I’m always learning, becoming a better person’.


So where is this guy going to be in 10 years?

‘I hope to hell that by the time I’m 27 I am established and successful enough that if I have a creative idea that I can express it without limitations’. He tells me that he finds that, especially with film, it takes so much collaboration, so many expenses that as a young creative it’s not always possible to express your ideas in a way that is most complimentary to the original concept.


He jokes ‘I hopes that the future some idiot with a lot of money can trust me enough to let me go out and make a big budget film my way’. I feel Sam is pursuing his dreams and modelling is a great introduction in to the arts.  If he gets his face around and starts working editorials and is open to travel, he could easily finance and create his own film production business one day.  The future is bright!

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I really enjoyed meeting Sam. Each time we’ve worked together I see him grow and take on a new confidence.  With his cool demeanour and  his progressive liberal approach to life,  he’s got an exciting  future.

Look out for my next fashion Editorial with Sam Carson and ‘Mndatory’  An amazing Melbourne based Menswear Designer: 







BonVoyage – Melbourne to New York City Girl

Jimmy Dean Street Style, Natalie is the girl who can do boy so well.

Natalie Deely is on her way to New York City, probably landing at JFK as I post this article.  I met Natalie a year ago.  I was out photographing when she walked by.  She is so striking in appearance, with a super cool demeanour . Happy and unpretentious and definitely a no drama girl, a very mature person for her age and a very pragmatic approach to life, she really makes her presence felt. I gave her my card and the rest, as they say is history.

Natalie agreed to work with me on the first shoot for GetYAfashON.  It was her first pro-shoot, although nervous, she really switched it on and was great.  She made the shoot easy and worked so hard following direction and together we achieved some great photographs.  I published ‘The Making of A model’ in September 2016 since then Natalie has worked with some great photographers in Melbourne and has fronted various modelling campaigns.

We had the chance to work on a few project together making a massive contribution to GetYAfashON.  Together we have developed our skills, grown creatively and had some good times.



I wanted to get my last photoshoot with her, so we arranged to meet in Richmond, where I had located a good urban space. I instructed Natalie to wear a boys suit, the rest was up to her.  It was typical Melbourne weather and the light was changeable, so between showers we got to it.  It was easy and fun.  I am really going to miss working with Natalie.  She has a tremendous energy and no fear.  I know she will go far.

I wanted Natalie to go to New York.  I feel her look and energy would be more commercial there.  She’s got so much to give, she is so young and gifted in many ways. She needs to be discovered in the northern hemisphere.  The world needs to meet Natalie Deely.


Natalie and I are going to continue working together. Obviously I can’t get the photos, in person, (not yet, I’m working on it) so Natalie will create an image of her journey and I will put together an interview updating her progress. Very excited.

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So Miss Natalie D get ready to take a BITE out of the Big Apple and rock NYCity.

Zoe xxx








Rags To Runway

I was very excited to be invited to the Kangan Institute Fashion Events – Rags to Runway – Kinship. This event is a culmination of the Kangan Fashion students and the Australian Red Cross working together to create and educate people about the issues on the shocking situation of the mass production of clothing and wastage. The aim of this exciting union is to address, inform and give a constructive obtainable solution towards sustainability in the fashion industry.  The students showed their skills and training by producing brilliant collections made with pre-loved Australian Red Cross Op shop clothing.

If you are unaware of the global issues we face here are some facts so we are on the same page.  It is estimated that in Australia alone, we send 85% of textiles to landfill.  It’s the man made synthetics, plastics and non bio-degradable fibres that are scary.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  The mass production of garments happens to be the second worst polluter in the world, the first being oil, so says the Danish Fashion Institute’s 2013 study. The amount of chemicals used to produce fabrics, including dyes and insecticide (use for cotton) is huge and the list goes on. Its all pumped out into the environment. We are all part of the fashion supply chain and we need to re-think our situation. The Kangan Students clearly are leading the way, crafting old to new and producing ingenious creations.  These talented designers are turning things around, led by the educators who’s mission it is to capture the imagination of the future generations of designers and instilling ecological and sustainable ethics.

The night was the most exciting of the week for me. The buzz and energy was great.  I was allowed to photograph behind the scenes. The organisers, models, designers, make up and press where all milling around in a tiny space. It was well coordinated, and from the schedule list, everything ran to plan.


The lights kicked in and the music pumped, the models began the show.  Two female models appeared with Alex Van Os, cool celebrity Eco-stylist. They walked the catwalk with beautiful pieces.  Two by two, more models appeared strutting their stuff to the beat, each outfit constructed from various fabrics types and textures. It was great to see the crowd relish each concept piece. Definitely ‘selfies-central’ as the designers and models  enjoyed some well deserved attention.  The atmosphere was fun, optimist and happy.  A Pop Up Shop with a selection from each designers was present, giving us the chance to get close up and appreciate the workmanship and a good buying opportunity to raise money for this amazing charity.


While I was there, I got an opportunity to get a few quick words with Alex Van Os, Red Cross Ambassador and super ‘Op Shop’ stylist. This is a girl after my own heart. I am the ‘Op Shop’ Queen. I love the pre-loved culture here in Australia. Its guilt free shopping, all for a good cause. Alex is an accomplished business women out there encouraging people to visit Op shops by the coach load. Adding to her credentials,  she’s styled major celebrities and working on various campaigns such with the Red Cross.  She is very passionate about this collaboration with the Kangan Institute. She loves the way the students have thought out of the box and created such cool fashion. Please check put her .


Amongst these up and coming designers I bumped into the lovely Harry Millward, Award winning Kangan ‘Inspirational Student in 2016’.  I met Harry nearly a year ago. He’s a great designer, adept in all aspects of fashion, creative and fun, I’ve watched him take risks and explore new projects over the year.  He’s ambitious, intelligent and being  one of the nicest guys in the business he’s really set to go places. We should all keep an eye on him.

I have met and covered a lot of designers in Melbourne, who are keen to change and innovate the fashion scene.  It’s been a very educational and rewarding experience. I am hearing ‘Reduce, recycle and reuse’ banded about. This theory that must become a reality.  Several major designers, including Vivienne Westwood, are taking a stance and embarking on ethical fashion projects.  Inevitably the major fashion houses need to pick up and carry the torch, and the mainstream stores need to restructure, and re-consider their business strategy, turning their brands in to a more productive, sustainable and ecologically sound business model.  These new trained designers will carry skills that will enhance and advance the fashion industry, taking fashion into a new healthy productive and inspiring realm.

I would like to thank Vicki Nicola – Lead Fashion Educator for inviting me to the show and David Clay and the Marketing and Events Management Team for all your assistance, and of course the models and designers.  I will be following these Guys. I can’t wait to see how they develop their skills and knowledge in the world of eco-fashion.

Watch this space – these designers  are the future. I hope they craft their way to the best roles in Fashion.

Chi Cao, Bridie Riordan, Karunatilaka Nyana, Dai Sanders, Lisa Engelhardt, Tiffany Khaing,Vu Dang,Krittika Sillapasomak, Kristina Salunga, Adele Merlo, Jenny Ann Copeland, Megan Taylor, Hoda Mohamad, Uni Rasmi, Samen Kim, Ping Zhao, Fernanda Andrade Ramos, Annha Vie Namokot, Maelle Moreau, Harry Millward, Ingrid Ariza, Nada Allsop, Rachel Jory, Lydney Kirkham, Jen Huffer, Yeirin Ju, Elizabeth Agok, Ashley Vola, Jessica Lawrence, Nayana Nilmini, Vivianne (Kwacha) Luka.

The future is shining bright.