Ink & Leathers

Fashfest 2016 Designer Profile – Melanie Child



One of the fantastic things about Fashfest is that it opens your eyes to a host of possibilities. For example, I have stated many times on this blog that I find a lot of ‘eco’ or sustainable designers to make really ugly clothing, and that I am someone who can’t see themselves wearing eco designs.

Enter Melanie Child, a boutique womenswear label from Dunedin, New Zealand, which focuses on upcycling and sustainable fabric choices.

In the lead up to Fashfest 2015 I can remember the head of Fashfest PR asking me if I would be interested in profiling Melanie’s label for my blog and thinking “Pshaw! Sustainable design! That’s all hemp fibers and tie-dye! No thanks!” and being, if I am honest, a bit of a tool about it all. It wasn’t until I was actually sitting there last year watching Melanie’s designs pass me on the runway that I realised just how wrong about sustainable design I was.

The aesthetic of Child’s label is thought provoking and sculptural with dark undertones, with a predominantly monotone colour palette. It is also insanely beautiful and in some ways fragile. The creative redesign of preloved denim is a Melanie Child signature.

The label’s underpinning philosophies are to reduce post-consumer textile waste into landfill and maintain a small environmental footprint by using sustainable virgin materials from ethical sources. Child creates beauty from the unwanted and wasted—timeless garments that transcend seasonal restraints. Limited edition and bespoke upcycled clothing which is thoughtfully and skilfully remade in New Zealand.

Returning to the Fashfest runways for 2016, I was eager to get in touch with Melanie to find out what she had been up to since we saw her in May last year and of course, what we can expect from her 2016 collection. (more…)

Military Coat – 90s Grunge or Japanese Cool?


Spring always means rain here in Canberra, and I’m counting my lucky stars I’ve found the perfect jacket to see me through the wet weeks ahead. Today I’m wearing: khaki hooded canvas jacket – German army surplus | white cotton v-neck t-shirt – H&M | obsidian magnatama necklace – Narita, Japan | brown leather belt – Sportscraft | moto embroidered skinny jeans – Loyalty & Faith | tobacco brown suede boots – The Ball & Chain, Catch of the Day


While it might technically be Spring here in Canberra, we’re currently living through a last hurrah for the Winter season that was. The air is still freezing, and rains have set in for the time being, which is doing wonders for my whole “let’s get fit and healthy in time for summer (for the 900th time)” thing. Spring in Canberra always means rain, and two weekends ago while the skies opened up, my parents and I set about rearranging my garage and conducting a bit of Spring-cleaning around my place. The main goal was to neatly pack-up and store the remnant’s of my ex’s belongings wile he’s living abroad. In the process of this, I found a coat.

I had never seen the coat before, but I knew that it belonged to my ex. It’s a khaki or olive-drab military coat with a huge hood and a detachable faux-fur lining. The tags inside the jacket are in German, so I can only assume that this is a surplus German military piece that he collected from somewhere, and which has been sitting in the garage unloved for the past five years. Obviously, waiting for me to discover it and to fall in love with it. (more…)

Fashfest 2016 Designer Profile – Karen Lee


Karen Lee Fashfest 2015 collection Photography: Red Photography Models: FASHFEST and HAUS Models Hair & Makeup: FASHFEST 2015


Karen Lee’s reputation within Canberra is testament to the quality and individuality of her work as both a designer and as a style shepherd through her boutique Assemblage Project.

As a designer Karen Lee creates beautiful clothing pieces with refined, effortless lines and classic shapes. The use of unusual twists of fabric and pattern produce a contemporary sophistication which draws you in with a need to take a closer look. Lee creates clothing for women wanting to be comfortable and confident in expressing their individual style while making garments inherently their own. Her focus is on designing quality clothing that enhances changing body shapes, which she makes to an exact and rigorous standard of the highest quality.

Karen Lee garments do not follow current trends. These are designs which transcend age, body shape and culture, designed to last for many years and growing and aging with the wearer as time moves forward.

I’ve said multiple times that Karen’s designs remind me of Japanese labels like Comme des Garçons and Junya Wantanabe. There’s a stark elegance and reality to the designs that evokes a dedication to form and structure that surpasses trend, and which is almost timeless. 

And with her boutique Assemblage Project, housed in the glorious Ori building in Braddon, Lee provides Canberra with an upmarket haven of carefully curated labels from a select number of Australian and New Zealand designers. With an eye for beautiful fashion with wide appeal, lee has carefully handpicked designers for the store with different visions which work together as a collective.

An example of this is that many of the labels share the same ethos, designing and producing in ways that celebrate slow fashion and sustainability. Their garments are not only thoughtfully and skilfully designed, they are masterfully crafted with fabrics that are a pleasure to wear over many years.

Returning to the Fashfest runways in 2016, I was eager to get in touch with Karen to find out what she has been up to since her last collection, what her customers are looking for in a label, and of course, what we can expect from both of her 2016 Fashfest shows. (more…)

Fashfest 2016 Designer Profile – Cadia Belante



With the increase in size and scope of Fashfest as a celebration of fashion, design and creativity – it makes sense that it’s audience grows as well. Audience doesn’t refer to just those who attend Fashfest, but also to those who take part. With each year that passes we see the number of interstate (and international) designers, models and musicians increase.

One such interstate designer who is showing at Fashfest for the very first time in 2016 is Cadia Belante, a Melbourne based designer and eponymous fashion label with a focus on sustainable clothing production.

Belante created her label in response to her concerns with the increasing volume of materials that we create and the rate at which these materials become landfill.

As a label Cadia Belante proposes to develop ways to re-circulate these consumable items, and as a result reduce waste. The original catalyst of this undertaking was the discovery of large quantities of surplus sleeping bags in second hand stores, leading Belante to explore the possibilities of re-purposing within fashion design. Cadia began to collect interesting but obsolete items to experiment with, and she now uses items that would remain unused or otherwise be tossed away to create her signature garments.

Belante’s website and social media showcase an array of boldly colured and patterned fashions in mens, womens and unisex designs, which blur the lines between art and fashion. The label is inspired by Belante’s  vision of the future possibilities of challenging boundaries within fashion design.

This is the first year that Cadia Belante will show at Fashfest, and I wanted to get an inside scoop on the label and the future-cool styling before the big night. Of course I have also sought a little bit of a sneak peek as to what we can expect from her 2016 collection. (more…)

Fashfest launch event:


Fashfest 2016 launched today at the beautiful new Eden space in the Canberra Centre.


Today I made a mad dash from the office to the Canberra Centre for the launch of Fashfest 2016. Hosted by the gorgeous Sarah Kelly in the Canberra Centre’s beautiful new Eden space, the event gave founders Clint and Andrea Hutchinson the opportunity to share thougts on where Fashfest came from, how it has grown, and exciting news about what we can expect from the future.

With regard to the origins of the event, Clint recounted a story of travelling to Milan and he and Andrea asking the question of one another “Why hasn’t Canberra had its own event fashion event?” This lead to other questions about how you would run a fashion event in Canberra, and soon after much discussion and some scribbling on napkins, they had designed the very first Fahsfest event.

When they returned to Canberra  the first person that the spoke to Steven Wright, who has been (and remains) a huge part of the Fashfest experience. Clint first pitched the idea of a five-night fashion experience, to which Steven’s response was “You’re crazy, you might be able to make one-night happen.” Clint’s rebuttal was to compromise on a four-night event, and the rest is history. (more…)

Fashfest 2016 Designer Profile – SZN

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SZN Fashfest 2014 collection – photo credit: Martin Ollman


Suzan Dlouhy is a name known to many in the Canberra fashion scene. Founding her label SZN in 2012, Suzan quickly created a name for herself with her avant garde styling and her dedication to creating a label founded on principals of sustainable design. With a focus on simplicity and craftsmanship, SZN produces beautiful, intelligent pieces for a contemporary audience.

As a label SZN is Fashfest alumni and has showed collections twice previously, before Suzan moved the label to Melbourne. Since leaving Canberra Suzan has not only expanded into the Melbourne market, now stocked at Milly Sleeping and The Social Studio in Melbourne (as well as Canberra’s own Assemblage project); but has also been active in  designing for many art projects, including music videos and short films. Most recently SZN showed as a part of the FreekA runway at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.

The last SZN collection for Fashfest 2014 was a revelation for me. I’d previously thought of recycled and environmentally conscious design as clunky, poorly made and ugly. If you’d ever seen the garments showcased on Regretsy you would know exactly what I am talking about. However what Suzan presented was a beautiful collection of striking silhouettes and stunningly crafted denim pieces that leapt off the runway and into my imagination.

I’m still dreaming about the striped denim t-shirt from this collection, and cursing myself for not ordering one right away.

As you can imagine I am very excited to see SZN return to the Fashfest runways for 2016, and I wanted to catch up with Suzan to see what she has been up to since we saw her last, and to see what insight I can get to her 2016 collection. (more…)

Winter Favourites Video – Menswear, Home wares and Media

I have been away for from my Youtube channel for quite a while, and I thought that I would get myself back into the habit of making content for Youtube with a Monthly Favourites video!

However, seeing as I haven’t made a video in the three-months of Australian winter, I figured I would make this one a Winter Favourites Video!

I have been a big fan of Monthly Favourites videos for a while now, and I follow a lot of great Youtubers who produce this video every month. I think that they are a really great way to learn more about your favourite Youtubers; but also to discover new products/gadgets/brands to try, or to confirm your thoughts about something you have been thinking of trying for a while.

So for Winter 2016 I have seven products that I wanted to share with you that I have purchased and been loving. There’s a couple of housewears, fashion, footwear and tech/media items