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5 Minutes With…Kalila Stewart-Davis of NAMOI

Lucky me got to interview a bunch of the Adelaide Fashion Festival’s Best Emerging Designer Award finalists! The whole series can be seen on The Urban Silhouette.

Best Emerging Designer finalist Kalila Stewart-Davis brings divine drapery, natural fibres and effortless designs to Australia with NAMOI. Deputy editor Lucy Ahern spoke to the talented designer about mixing high street with luxe labels, her favourite Funkis clogs – and how it’s definitely not ‘Naomi’.

TUS: What do you love most about designing?
 The process of developing an idea and making a tangible product. That process of being like ‘I made this’ – it is really satisfying. I also love being in business and always having to learn, as there are endless opportunities for self-development.

How did you get started in fashion?
Sketching matching hats and dresses to wear to the ‘races’ as a child… I still have the drawing books.

Describe your personal style?
Boho luxe.

Op shop, high street or luxe labels?
A mix of everything; you don’t have to spend a million dollars to look good. The Kate Moss culture of wearing a Moschino t-shit with a pair of second hand cut-off jeans – that’s kinda how I like to dress. Buy things you love even if they are expensive, but don’t dismiss the opportunity for something cheap and chic.

Favourite place to shop in Adelaide?
The NAMOI pop-up shop! I love Queen Street Croydon, Rundle Street, Burnside – anywhere with a great coffee!

Who is the designer you look up to most and why?
George Gross & Harry Who. I love their story; I find it very inspiring, as their parents migrated from Hungary, then George, Kathy and Harry got a loan and built a label that is stocked around the world.

Hussein Chalayan, for his take on contemporary nomad and producing clothing that turns into a table. He really pushes the boundaries of what we perceive to be clothing and how we use it.

Madeleine Vionnet, as she was very much a part of the roaring ’20s, helping to create the flapper look. It was a really liberating time for women being freed from the corset and for the first time being able to work and earn an income. I also love the ideals of equality she upheld within her business, such as child care.

What are your absolute wardrobe staples?
Big loose jersey or silk anything, cowl neck tops and dresses, my loose kimono batwing jacket, scarves, my Funkis clogs and ankle boots.

Best way to relax?
Relax…what is that? But listening to Joni Mitchell, watching Grand Designs, walking or a glass of chardonnay.

Favourite event on the AFF calendar?
The Norwood Fashion Parades and Market, and the SA Designer Showcase.

Where did your inspiration for this collection stem from?
Feathers, prehistoric exoskeleton shells, the desire for clothing that is glamorous and comfortable, and Japanese calligraphy. I also design clothing by seeing the gaps in my wardrobe, saying ‘what do I need to finish this outfit’.

What are the greatest challenges facing the Australian fashion industry?
Competing with multi-national brands that are able to undercut local business and overpower them with huge marketing budgets.

What will you do if you take out the Best Emerging Designer award?
Continue to grow my label and business.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Probably working for Woolworths…No, I hope to be running my own profitable fashion label.

Published on The Urban Silhouette.


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