Thursday, 5 May 2011

Interview - Pamela Usanto Part 1

Ashleigh Brewer looking stunning
in Pamela's Lady Grace dress
Seeing one of your dresses on the red carpet would be a dream for any designer. For up-and-coming designer Pamela Usanto, not only is that dream a reality with her glamorous Lady Grace dress worn by Neighbours actress Ashleigh Brewer at this year's Logies, but her stunning gown made the Best Dressed List of almost every media poll.

Originally starting in nutrition, lucky for us shoppers, Pamela decided to pursue a career in fashion. Read more about Pamela here.

I was lucky enough to interview the lovely Pamela and learn more about the issues facing up-and-coming designers.
1. You originally studied nutrition. What made you decide to pursue a career in fashion and start your own label? 
I have always been interested in fashion but as a kid I wanted to succeed in science, so I enrolled myself to a bachelor degree at RMIT University majoring in nutrition. I was 17 when I started University and I graduated 3 years after, completely clueless, not knowing what I really wanted to do in life.

What’s hilarious is that I actually was inspired to pursue fashion after watching The Devil Wears Prada. As soon as the movie finishes it was like an epiphany, I knew I had to pursue fashion. I enrolled to an RMIT TAFE course majoring in fashion, and after 2 years I eventually continued to complete a bachelor degree. I graduated in 2009.

2. What have been some of the business challenges of starting your own label?
I think every young designer would say the same thing. Money. When I started the label, it was just a side project. I thought to myself  “I know I will have a label eventually, why not start one now and see what happens?”

I honestly did not think it through, but I am lucky that my parents are always supporting me through my career.

3.You have released two ready-to-wear collections, Lumière (2010) and Madam Rose (2011). The collections are different whilst maintaining your design aesthetic. How do you ensure your collections change each season whilst staying true to your brand?
I basically design clothes that I would wear, and I find that what I would love to wear is not always available in shops.

My design concepts evolve around the idea of old school glamour (1950s fashion), simple cuts and intricate beading. So whenever I design a collection, I will always remind myself of that idea. Thus no matter how different it is it will still have the same aesthetic.
Pamela's studio
4. Your label has a ready-to-wear line and a couture collection. What was the business decision behind having two distinct lines?
I have always loved labels that do both prêt-a-porter and couture lines. As for my label, I wanted to create something that is affordable and wearable whilst at the same time, for those who wanted custom made dresses, I also provide the service of creating a one of a kind piece. I found that after almost one year of establishing the label, I’d like to concentrate more on designing particularly dresses in the future.

5. Do you find that the Australian fashion market has an appreciation for couture designs?
To be honest, I think young Australian values modern designs more than couture designs. In my opinion one of the reason is because of the decreasing number of local manufacturers. Australian designers tend to produce overseas and therefore they have to constantly be aware of production cost (the more difficult the outfit, the more costly), so what we are used to wearing is simple cut modern design.

This is why I want to re-introduce the beauty of hand beading/embroidery so more women will understand that it’s not all about edgy and modern design.

Click here for Part 2 of my interview with Pamela.

Here are some of the beautiful pieces from Pamela's couture collection:
Camille & Kelly


Kate & Mademoiselle

La Chinoise

Lady Grace

Madame Sofia

Noir de femme
Images courtesy of Pamela Usanto

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