Combine the symbolist paintings of Gustav Klimt with effusive blooms from Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens and a dash of Freudian pop psychology. You’d be lucky to end up with Kathryn Beker‘s Autumn Winter collection. Herself an artist, Beker drew on Klimt’s works for the latest range with the Grecian title ‘ Eros & Thanatos’. Put simply the range is about the duality of good and evil, particularly sex and death. Sex comes in the form of the most intoxicatingly pink-tinged rose petals and virginal whites, while death is embodied in moody black feathers, lace and silk. Accents of gold – a favourite hue of Klimt’s – pepper the collection in mesh and pailettes.
Kathryn kindly took time out to have a little chat about the collection, her burgeoning label and her style.
Your collection in 5 words?
Cultural, historical, sensual, poetic and floral.
Your most treasured fashion piece?
A vintage diamond ring my dad gave to my mom in the 70’s when he was about the age I am now. They have both been happily remarried since but I like to wear it now to feel close to him. Also, I cherish my collection of books on design, style & photography.
Dream designer collaboration?
François Lesage. For more than a half-century he led the Parisian embroidery atelier founded by his father Albert. Maison Lesage has collaborated with designers from Vionnet and Elsa Schiaparelli through to Galliano, Givenchy and Balenciaga. He passed away in December last year at age 82 and the atelier is now owned by Chanel.
Favourite fashion quote?
“I think the idea of mixing luxury and mass-market fashion is very modern – wearing head-to-toe designer has become a bit passé. It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.”- Alexander McQueen
You’re just been nominated for the Peroni and Harper’s Bazaar Young Designer Award – congratulations!
Thanks. I was really excited when I received the phone call from Harper’s Bazaar informing me that I had been selected as one of the five finalists for the Peroni Young Designer of the Year Award. I will be attending the Windows by Design LMFF launch party on the 29th of February where the winner will be revealed and receive a start-up fund. Obviously that would be amazing, but I honestly am just so glad to be a finalist and am looking forward to meeting everyone. Launching a new label independently involves so much solitary work so it’s really nice to have my efforts recognised by others in the industry and give me the confidence to keep moving forward.
Will you have the chance to attend any LMFF events this year?
Gusto & Élan will be hosting a runway show in store featuring all of the designers stocked there, including the Kathryn Beker label, so that should be pretty exciting. I am also looking forward to attending the Mimco show again, although just as a spectator this year. I’ve had the amazing opportunity of collaborating with them on a number of their campaigns and my gowns have also just recently featured in their stunning new Mimbride campaign launch.
Your personal style?
I really don’t own very many clothes; I’m very much a jeans and t-shirt girl so I suppose I must live a little vicariously through others. I’m always too busy obsessing about the collection I’m creating to have time to worry about me. Katharine Hepburn put it well, “I wear my sort of clothes to save me the trouble of deciding which clothes to wear.”
Best fashion lesson?
‘An overnight success’ in fashion has been in the industry for many anonymous years. There is not going to be one defining moment that makes a career; it’s a series of many little steps.
Any other exciting news that you’d like to share with my readers?
Yes! Apart from working on the next collection for 2012/13, I’m busy creating a capsule collection that will become part of an installation in collaboration with Mettle Fair-trade. We are aiming to launch it hopefully during Mercedes-Benz Australian fashion week early May.
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Photographer – She is Frank
Stylist – Rachel Harris
Make-up – Pauly Blanch
Hair – Trent Anthony Lopuszanski
Models – Paige & Kate from Vivien’s, Courtenay from Giant.