Friday, 29 July 2011

Interview - Neo Dia Part 1

Neo Dia is an up-and-coming label doing amazing things not only with material, but on the Australian and international fashion scene.

Started by RMIT graduates Becky Chua and Gavin Lowes, Neo Dia take their inspiration from art, architecture and academics. 

Neo Dia derived its name from the word "Neo" meaning "new" and "Dia" taken from the word "diametric" referring to lines and shapes. When you see Becky and Gavin's amazing designs which push the boundaries of geometry and construction, the name Neo Dia fits perfectly.

I was lucky enough to interview Becky and Gavin who have been working on their much anticipated new collection to learn more about their experiences in the fashion industry.

1.You both met when you were studying at RMIT and went on to start Neo Dia together. How has it helped having a partner in such a competitive industry?
It really makes a world of difference to have a co designer! We both push each other strive in the development of the range, as well as offer a different slant on an idea the other may not have thought of by themselves. It is also extremely comforting to have someone you trust to discuss and nut out problems as they arise. Finally, two heads and four hands are definitely a plus when there is a collection to be finished!!

2. Your designs are very unique, featuring dramatic pleats that create interesting silhouettes. How do you ensure your designs are creative enough to stand out, but are still wearable for consumers?
We spend a lot of time in the development stages of techniques that we use in the collection, such as pleating and folding. Through experimenting all the facets of shape and movement then we understand how to apply it to garments.

3. Your label has gained international recognition. You recently showed your designs at Amsterdam Fashion Week and were one of 6 Avant-Garde designers selected worldwide to show on the ‘Cutting Edge Platform’. Have you found the response to your label from the overseas’ markets different to that of the Australian market?
The response from the overseas market is quite different from the Australian market. However, when you think about it, each individuals reaction to our collection is different from the next person!

Generally, when we were in Europe, many buyers, editors and bloggers commented on how light and refined the garments and collection was.

I think that the overseas market, particularly Europe, has responded in a much bigger way to our label. For example, sponsoring us to show at Modefabriek, Amsterdam fashion week, and we have also been on the Vogue Italia website before we've even graced the pages of an Australian magazine!! I think this is partially because we're from the other side of the world and have a very unique aesthetic which they are intrigued by, and they are more inclined to take a punt on an emerging label.
Neo Dia's bright yellow cape and dress from their
Rhythmic Algorithm collection featured at the MSFW Media Launch
4. You launched your first collection Lucid Construct at the Melbourne Spring Fashion Festival in 2010. What were some of the challenges you faced presenting your first collection at the Festival?
We spent most of our effort on how we would present our label. Since we only had one shot to launch Neo Dia, we wanted to do it right. That meant we wanted our product and look book to be of the highest quality. We want to that our amazing stylist Jam Baylon, for helping us achieve amazing photoshoots which ultimately help us to stand out and to be taken seriously by many industry giants.

5. Fashion is a competitive industry. What are some of the business challenges you have faced starting a label?
When starting a label, there are so many things to think about regarding business. Do I invest my time and money in a website, manufacturing, advertising, or do I delegate to an agent and consultants, etc. I think that most challenging part about business is knowing what to do first and what you can think about later. We have been very blessed to have an industry mentor whom we can ask questions in the moments when we are overwhelmed, but also when we're not doing something that we should be!

Click here for Part 2 of this interview!

Check out the beautiful garments from the Neo Dia Rhythmic Algorithm collection, which was inspired by music.

Images courtesy of, Neo Dia and

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Made You Look! - The Art of Window Dressing

Daphne Guinness in the windows for Barney's

As a consumer, I've never thought much about how much effort goes into dressing a window however, with online retailing becoming more and more popular, there is increasing pressure on bricks and mortar retailers to attract customers into their stores. Have you stopped to think about what catches your eye when you're walking down the street? Is it a certain colour, shape, object? There are many techniques shops can use to catch the attention of passersby.

Unsurprisingly, there is a science behind the art of window dressing. Different colours are used to elicit different emotions from consumers. Hot pink suggests youthfulness, red is eye catching and usually associated with something passionate or a safe, blue promotes calmness, yellows and light pinks are feminine, the list goes on. Even the placement of products are important, with objects placed at eye level perceived as more important by viewers.

General Pants' controversial Ksubi campaign
Even shapes can influence consumers. Curvy lines suggest something natural and organic whilst square and rectangular shapes suggest stability. Strong diagonal lines are dynamic and are linked to movement.

Surprisingly mannequins can even influence a consumers perception of clothing. I always wondered why headless mannequins were used by stores. It turns out, they allow viewers to more easily imagine the clothes on themselves! 

Australian stores are taking the initiative to create more interesting and engaging window displays. General Pants' recent provocative window for Ksubi's Sex! and Fashion campaign had to be censored so as to not offend young viewers. As the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity so I don't think General Pants were complaining about the media coverage the display got. 

Australian pyjama king Peter Alexander knows the importance of window displays. Each display is planned six months in advance, with campaigns such a hit with customers that they buy the props after the campaign's over.

Overseas, retailers have mastered the art of window dressing, many employing local artists to assist with the design process. Barney's and Topshop have taken window dressing to a whole new level. Earlier this year socialite Daphne Guinness prepared for the Met Gala in the windows of Barney's. The adjacent windows were filled with stunning pieces from her collection from the late Isabella Blow. To promote her new Topshop collection, Kate Moss posed in the window for Topshop bringing passing traffic to a halt.

So next time you're out shopping, take the time to look at the window displays and think about what grabs your eye!

Check out some of the most interesting displays from around the world:

The amazing Bergdorf Goodman holiday window
Interesting use of an ostrich in the Louis Vuitton window
Calvin Klein's suspended mannequin display
Hermès' creepily interesting display
Barney's window display designed by artist Dennis McNett
Chanel-Kubricks window display in Nippon
Lanvin's Paris windows using fans to bring the clothes to life
The Hermès window display in Tokyo design by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka.
The installation used cleverly timed videos of women and hidden fans to create the perception that the women were blowing iconic Hermès scarves. 
These many surveillance cameras would make anyone
think twice before trying to steal these Louis Vuitton bags.
The Calvin Klein Collection store in New York
featured a display of some of the world's most famous couples.
Post-It Pop Art in the window of Berdorf Goodman 
Apple for iPod Hi-Fi
Takashi Murakami wrapped the Louis Vuitton store in its signature 33 colours for the holiday season
The beautiful floral display in Le Printemps
Images courtesy of,,,,,,
Information sourced from Shop Til' You Drop,

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fashion Muse - Miroslava Duma

Catching the eye of street style photographers The Sartorialist and Garance Dore, Miroslava Duma, the daughter of a Russian senator has an effortlessly cool style. Favouring high end designers such as Chanel, Miu Miu, YSL, Lanvin and Prada, Duma is commonly seen in bright colours and textured pieces. Previously an editor for Harper’s Bazaar (Russia), Miroslava Duma is now a freelance writer for Tatler, Glamour Russia and OK Magazine (Russia).

Even Duma's pregnancy last year didn't stop her from always looking amazing, proudly showing her baby bump in long flowing maxi dresses. Favouring minimal make-up and long, relaxed brunette locks, Duma is regularly seen at fashion shows around the world.

Check out some of Miroslava's best looks:

Information sourced from
Images sourced from,,,,,

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

An Afternoon With Pamela Usanto

After catching my eye with her beautiful feminine designs, I was keen to learn more about Melbourne designer Pamela Usanto. With the release of her latest collection Très Jolie, I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Pamela and have a sneak peak of her new designs.

Located in the beautiful Salon XVI, Pamela's beautifully decorated showroom is the perfect place to have a chat and cup of tea whilst admiring Pamela's beautiful pieces.

The Très Jolie collection features lace, coral, grey, black and lots of delicate beading. The collection is tran-seasonal with the beautiful pieces perfect with sandals for warmer weather and a blazer and tights for the colder seasons.

With chain stores gradually taking over the Australian retail landscape, it can be difficult to find garments which are not mass produced. Pamela only makes a small number of each piece to maintain the exclusivity of each garment.

Ashleigh Cummings (center) at the
AFI Awards in one of Pamela's
beautiful gowns
Pamela also produces beautiful couture dresses, bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses. Pamela's designs have been spotted on the red carpet on Ashleigh Cummings at the AFI Awards and on Ashleigh Brewster at the Logies. During my visit, I was lucky enough to try on the stunning Lady Grace dress Ashleigh wore to the Logies and it was so beautiful! These pieces have an amazing attention to detail with Pamela hand sewing on all the beading herself. The pictures don't do justice to the beautiful pieces and you really have to see them in person to appreciate their beauty.

If you are interested in checking out Pamela's new collection and couture and bridal gowns contact Pamela on 0430 842 448 or to arrange an appointment.

Salon XVI and Pamela's workspace is located at Level 1 267 Bridge Road, Richmond, Melbourne.

To learn more about Pamela check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my interview with her.

Pamela was lovely enough to sketch this beautiful picture for me for my blog:

Thanks Pam for letting spend the afternoon with you! I had a great time looking at your beautiful collections and I'm sure I'll be back soon!

Check out some of the new pieces from Très Jolie, pieces from Pamela's couture and bridal collection and her beautiful workspace:

The stunning Lady Grace dress:

Pieces from the Très Jolie collection: 

Pieces from Pamela's made to measure collection:

One of Pamela's beautiful bridal gowns:

Pamela's beautiful workspace:

The beautiful Salon XVI where Pamela's workspace is located:

Images by Stylus Muse and
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