Style Melbourne

Breakfast with Bianca Spender

Bianca Spender A/W 2015

Over breakfast at the very Melbourne venue, The European, Sydney designer Bianca Spender explained her affinity for her appreciative southern neighbours. One that existed even before the opening of her first local boutique at Emporium earlier this year.

“I love Melbourne in winter. The first collection I ever sold in my first stand alone concession in David Jones Melbourne was a winter collection, and I was just like ‘oh my god, Melbourne gets my tailoring, what is it? They just love coats.”

Bianca continues, “we literally had all these coats in Sydney not moving and we had all these coats in Melbourne just growing legs and running out the door and Olga [her national retail manager locally] was like ‘Send more! Send more!'” Realisation soon dawned. “I used to live in Paris and everyone was like ‘You know, you’re more a European designer’ and I was like ‘No, I think I’m just more of a Melbourne designer’. I had to have training on how to use colour when I was in Sydney ’cause it was like you can’t just do a collection without colour in Sydney – it really doesn’t work”.

“It was like I had this person who understood me without even having met them. My Parisian friends come along and they said to me ‘Bianca, why do you live in Sydney? Melbourne’s so much more you.’ I was like ‘Yes, yes I know that but I’m a Sydney girl…to have people support you that you have no real connection to in terms of having physically met them, it’s why you do what you do…you feel like you’re existing in this parallel world with them even though you haven’t made that physical connection.”

As the designer feels drawn towards two different worlds, her upcoming Autumn/Winter 2015 collection is also born from a clash of ideas. For “Counterpoint”, Bianca explores common dress codes – work, play, events, evenings – and tries to bend them, “I feel if you can subvert the codes you can then have the freedom to wear anything you want to wear, at any time of day. You just have to wake up and if you feel like wearing something you can find away to weave it in and make it relevant to your wardrobe”.

For her this means making familiar pieces more “Bianca”. Boxy or utilitarian jackets are crafted in shiny lurex so that daytime silhouettes become appropriate for after dark. The idea of the denim jacket gets a nipped-in waist, exaggerated sleeves and a more dynamic silhouette so it doesn’t just look the same as everyone else’s offering. A leather biker jacket (“the whole idea of it scares me because there are so many iconic ideas of what it’s mean to be”) becomes tweed and swing-y yet zip references remain. Weighty fabrics are slashed with nude mesh so they lose their rigidity and Bianca’s idea of lace is geometric and double-coated so it is not at all old-fashioned anymore. A t-shirt dress becomes a floor length, leather-bodiced gown (“this is my idea of a t-shirt dress…I had to laugh at myself”). Snake motifs and prints also rear their heads at points throughout the range. Perhaps the shedding of skin ties in aptly with our shedding of inhibitions on how clothes should be made and how – and when, and why – we should wear them?

Find Bianca Spender at Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

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