The Label feels like it's been around for years, but I was only introduced to the minimalist label last month at Canberra's premiere fashion event, Fashfest. The simplistic yet complex lines and minimal aesthetic, the collection and runway show blew my mind and everyone else's. That's why I put The Label as my number one Fashfest moment.
Now a month has passed since closing night, find out what makes designer, Emma O'Rourke's design mind tick and her Fashfest experience.
This was your first FASHFEST. What was the experience like for a newbie?
The experience was extremely stressful and exhilarating in equal measure! There are so many different elements that have to come together to put on a show on that scale. I really appreciate all the hard work everyone put in.
Your runway show at FASHFEST was a minimalist masterpiece. Who or what inspired this collection?
The shapes I create stem from my design aesthetic as well as the challenges of developing garments using minimal waste principles. This, combined with form and texture, influences core of my collections.
Saying that, I get inspiration for so many different places and different people. Sometimes the strangest items, like a picture, can bring out a world of unexpected creativity. I am almost always inspired by the clash of opposites. The most recent collection was inspired by AK-47 guns and bullets. They have beautiful design elements to them and are so complex and rigid. I took these ideas and turned them on their head by creating fabrics with images of white AK-47 guns printed on a pale pink fabric. The bullets formed a tan cross print on an ivory ponte. I wanted to strip back, simplify and give a cleanness to something that isn’t associated with minimalist ideas. It was a refined and delicate result, with a hidden edge.
Your zero waste dress (see above) had an interesting story behind it. Can you explain it to my readers?
Zero waste design refers to garments that have been constructed with no textile waste. I aim to have either little or no waste in many of my designs but also aim to make the designs as simplified as possible. Anyone who has seen zero waste design knows this is quite a challenge. With some traditional zero waste designs the construction of the garment can be very labour intensive which can drive up prices. I want my garments to be innovative yet still affordable so with each piece I try to refine the design. With the zero waste dress, which I've named the ‘Flare’ dress, I had a very clear idea of the silhouette I wanted to create but was finding it to a colossal challenge to create a pattern that had less than 5 per cent waste. I probably worked for a good week creating dress after dress but just couldn’t create the shape and drape I was after without a large amount of scrap fabric. So after realising the dress may not be a possibility I threw in the towel, made a tea, and went for a well-deserved sleep, only to be woken at 2 am with the perfect solution to my Flare dress conundrum. So, at 2am, filled with enthusiasm, I finished the dress and needless to say I was overjoyed.
Your models were divine. Can you explain your thought process when choosing models?
First and foremost I want to work with people who have a great presence—people who are aware, mindful of others and can bring their own individuality to a photoshoot or catwalk. And I got just that. The models I had just rocked the catwalk and backstage they had such a positive vibe, which is so important when everyone is tired and stressed. I can’t praise them enough.
When I asked Corr Blimey what makes or breaks a collection, they said models. What's your make or break?
There are so many different elements that go into putting together a collection. Saying that, I think I would have to agree … models are just such a vital element.
How important is it for designers to be creating with zero waste and what difference is it making?
I think the most important thing for any designer is to do all they can to produce ethically made garments, and there are lots of ways designers can approach this challenge.
I incorporate both zero and minimal-waste into my designs. I make the garments locally by myself and try to incorporate as many natural fabrics possible. First and foremost I want the designs to be aesthetically how I envision them. This is why I don’t want to solely use zero waste as I think when you are too focused on one element, you can lose site of the bigger picture. By setting myself parameters for my designs, such as refined, innovative and wearable, I can create something that is beautiful, wearable and doesn’t cost the earth. In the end, I believe it is my job as a designer to help improve, in any small way I can, what is, quite frankly, an extremely destructive industry. No one is perfect, but we all have to do our part.
I love the simplicity of the name. Where did 'The Label' come from?
Finding a name for a label name is so very hard. I'm a fan of all things minimalistic. I was brainstorming with my family and this name came up, and the simplicity of it fitted right in with my ideas for, The Label.
Who would you love to dress?
The thing I get most enjoyment from is seeing people really enjoy and get wear out of my clothes, so 'the who' doesn’t matter to me. It’s all about their experience of the garment that makes the difference.
Is there an interesting fabric you would love to try?
Technology has allowed the fashion industry to create some simply extraordinary fabrics. The list of fabrics I would like to incorporate into my collection is endless but two of my favourites use biomimicry. One is dye-free fabrics that merely reflect out colour rather than actually using a dye (like Morpho butterflies). The other is a fabric inspired by the Lotus leaf which can repel dust, water or anything. It's such an interesting and practical idea. So fantastic!
What's next for The Label?
At this stage I am taking orders for the current collection, planning a very exciting photoshoot, and, as always, planning the next collection. Its full steam ahead at The Label’s house of design.
Photos: Cummins Photo
Make up: Harlotte Cosmetics
Hair: Red Ken Australia
Lashes: Model Rock Lashes
Tanning: Brazilian Butterfly Canberra