Featured Designer: The Professor’s Daughter

FK chats to Mariska of colourful Melbourne based clothing label, The Professor’s Daughter!

Tell us about your label The Professor’s Daughter and what the concept is behind it?
The concept for the label was pieced together in late 2010. I was just moving to a new job and was re-assessing my work wardrobe when I suddenly realised that over the years that I had lived in Melbourne I had slowly fallen into the trap of wearing too much black. I was a bit taken aback as this wasn’t me at all; I was always the type of person that had always worn bold, bright coloured dresses, an assortment of colourful shoes and big statement jewellery. I decided to set myself a challenge to bring back a sense of polished fun and playfulness back into my daily wardrobe and the label just grew from there.

When I finally decided on the name The Professor’s Daughter it was like the true concept and design direction started falling into place. The Professor’s Daughter would be a colourful boutique label with pieces created from core materials such as wool, cotton, linen and silk in a tailor-made style. I was hoping to appeal to self-stylers who enjoy the ability to create a delightfully intriguing ensemble, and are not afraid to stand out from the crowd with a bold splash of colour.

The Professor’s Daughter recently attended the Melbourne Finders Keepers! What did you love most about it?
Well, what a day and a half the Finders Keepers market was. I loved the atmosphere of cheerful people, coffee, cupcakes and chatter amongst all of the fantastic designs. The Melbourne Finder Keepers market was just such a positive experience and was unlike anything that I’ve done so far with The Professor’s Daughter. It was such a great opportunity to meet so many people and gain that extra level of exposure to a new customer base.
My positioning in the market was just wonderful too. I was located just near the change rooms so had the joy of getting to see customers in the pieces from the collection and chat to them about the fit of the clothes and all of the potential styling options.

Which other clothing labels do you love? And what inspires you?
In designing the spring collection last year, I knew that I would be having a small catwalk show so a lot my inspiration came from the three songs that I had selected. They were Frank Sinatra ‘On the sunny side of the street’, Anita O’Day’s ‘I could write a book’ and my all time favourite Nina Simone’s ‘My baby just cares for me’. I kept thinking about what I would want to wear walking to these pieces of music and the type of mood and imagery these songs conjure for me. But in saying this, I think that most of my general inspiration comes from the colour and patterns that I surround myself with.
Though it sounds very unoriginal and cliché, I do love statement fashion labels such as Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Oscar de la Renta and Issey Miyake. I love the theatrical influence in these designers’ shows and radical nature of design and how each piece of couture is a complex and dramatic art piece in itself.

What do you love about living in Melbourne?
Though I spend a lot of time complaining about Melbourne’s weather, it might be one of the things that I actually love about living in this city. I love when it’s cold and everyone wears gorgeous coat, gloves and hats as they pile into their local cafes to wish the day away with coffee and chatter. You can even be sitting alone but still feel like you are part of Melbourne’s community.
When I first moved to Melbourne I started getting into Melbourne based bloggers and loved reading about living in Melbourne and about its unique style. I started feeling part of the city by reading the posts from the likes of Lady Melbourne and more recently Super Kawii Mama and Business Chic and enjoyed that while I was sitting at work I could still feel like I was out and about enjoying the city.

What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
The Professor’s Daughter was launched on the 1st July 2011, so it is still currently in its first year of business and operation. During this time I have not really faced challenges per se, but rather the whole process has been a continual stage of learning and developing along the way. For every activity I have been learning new things as I go, for example in building the online boutique website, doing the different photo shoots, and managing the range of pieces including stock levels and size ranges for the markets I have been attending.
The wonderful thing about these learning stages are that they are balanced with the sense of wonderful achievements, such as when I had my first sale from the website, my first international sale and just the other day being sent my first photograph of a customer wearing one of the dresses on her honeymoon in Paris.

What other ranges are you working on and where would you like to see The Professor’s Daughter in the future?
I would love to continue to develop and expand the label and the variety of pieces and styles for each new collection. I have wanted to try and explore more techniques for creating unique patterned materials for the next collections, and am considering laser cutting of the materials and further exploring embroidery designs and techniques to add other signature styles to the label. Also, I would love to expand the availability of the label and collections by getting The Professor’s Daughter stocked in boutique stores around the country, and possibly internationally in the future.
But mostly I am hoping to continue to love the whole process of running a fashion label, maintaining the daily excitements and memento as I soon head into the second year of The Professor’s Daughter.



  • Liz Foggo says:

    This is a fantastic article showing how one talented designer can take up the challenge and really add to the clothes scene in Melbourne and beyond. I wish her well and am going to buy a coat from her next pay day.

  • Suzie Glover says:

    What a fabulous story. I know just what she means, too much black! How great to see some colour, and such a great take on classic styling. Well done!

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