Featured Designer: Beattie

FK talks to Sydney fashion designer, Beattie.

Tell us a little more about your self titled clothing label, Beattie.

My name is Beatrice Lanser, but most people call me Beattie. So when deciding on a name for my own Fashion label I decided on “Beattie” as I knew I would never tire of it and it feels comfortable to me. I once wrote to the Royal Family in England when Princess Beatrice was born to tell them that they may like to call her Beattie as a nickname, as it seemed to work well for me. I have clearly always felt like I had something to say! Not following fashion trends, I seek to make clothes that are fun, special and naive. These are clothes you can wear with your favourite vintage cardigan or the tailored Jacket you stole from your Grandpa or that t shirt you picked up last year. All the fabrics I use are made for royalty – think linen, silk, cotton and wool. The unique textiles are limited editions, designed in house and hand screen printed in Sydney by a wonderful family business. All the clothes are handmade by me in a studio on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, though I am hoping to use some local businesses to help me next year.

Can you share your experiences so far and how it lead you to fashion design?

I grew up learning arts and crafts from my mother and grandmothers and learning how to draw from my architect father. When I was old enough I studied a Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles graduating with Honours in 2003.  After studying, my first job was with Sandra Thom a Sydney Fashion designer who learnt how to drape in India. Everything was made by a team of four people including myself in a small room above a shop in Paddington. Each piece was absolutely unique and contained a variety of vintage fabrics in natural fibres and all handstitched together with quilters running stitch. I then moved to London where I worked in design and quality control for a gentlemans shirtmaker and learnt to love menswear and classic styling. Both these jobs influenced me immensely and when I was brave enough, I started my own fashion label in 2008 that brought together my love of handstitching and classic styling.

We love your unique prints! Where do you find the inspiration?

I like looking at what is around me and then reflecting simple elements into drawings. Things that inspire me are: my friends, vintage fabrics, handpainted crockery, architecture details, the sea, gardens, indoor plants, travels to other cultures and movies that make my heart sing. For instance at the moment I have “Gulgong Bessa” which was inspired by the humble Besser Bricks from this sixties public swimming pool in Gulgong [near Mudgee]. I just love their pattern and repeat and the positive negative space and also the feeling I had swimming there last summer. One of the other prints “Rio boardwalk” was inpsired by a trip I took to Brazil last year. There is this landscapre architect who designed a lot of the public walkways, spaces and gardens in Brazil, Roberto Burle Marx – I was so blown away by his work. Rio Boardwalk is my interpretation of the paving on Copacabana beach promenade. I love designing my own prints , that has definately helped me to stand out in the fashion crowd though it is one of the scariest parts too! As the moments when I decide on my prints and the colourways for the season requires great courage and confidence.

What piece of advice would you give to others starting out?

Be you. Have a go. There are a lot of people who talk about what they want to do, but not many who actually do it. It does take great courage to put yourself out in the world on show and be truly you, but the truth is that only you can do what you can do. So why not do what you love! I also remembering getting overwhelmed as my brain catapulted too far into the future. I found that by starting small and having achievable goals was most helpful to me. So instead of saying I am going to design a whole collection and sell it and manufacture it, I just focused on making this one dress, in 2 colours and my own textile print and see how it goes. I knew I could do that. And I did and it has grown from there.

What creative activities do you enjoy in Sydney?

I actually really love Sydney. I love swimming in the ocean looking at the underwater creatures, it is like a special art gallery that requires goggles to see the colours and shapes. I love going to the Sydney Biennale on the old ferries to Cockatoo Island. I love going to see live music, especially at the Enmore Theatre. The acoustics are amazing and it is such a beautiful building. I really enjoy small cafes in Manly, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst. Sitting in cafes is seriously delightful people whatching. I often get inspired by what people are wearing and what they are talking about. I have also been selling at various markets around Sydney and this is seriously fun. But the people you get to meet, the stories you get to tell, the stories you get to hear, it truly encourages my carnival nature! Rozelle markets is a favourite of mine for seaching for that peice of old fabric or hand printed postcard or an enamel bowl, a perfect Sunday activity.

What can we expect from Beattie in 2011?

Well Beattie is going to get bigger in 2011! I have just gone full time on “Beattie” so that I can open my very own shop in Fairlight (just up the hill from Manly), New South Wales! This is something I have not even dared to dream about too much! So I am pretty excited. The shop will be full of clothing for men and women, accessories, handknits and some other things not to be let out of the bag quite yet. So, new textile designs, new styles, new website and some of the classic old Beattie styles to keep me and my customers relaxed.


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