Melbourne-based fashion designer Toni Maticevski chose to present his Ready-To-Wear Resort 2014 Collection in Paris, but he is “not to be put into a box as solely a fashion designer” according to Prasana Lee, his PR and Sales Director.
In the following interview the editor talks with the Australian designer and his ‘right hand’ Prasana Lee (PL) about his collection, his decision to come back to Paris and his future projects.
What does your eponymous brand stand for?
TM:(Laughing) Oh Jeez, this is quite an in-depth question. It is really interesting because I feel like I have had a few reincarnations through my career which has been really nice. I started off doing a lot of customs with private clients instead of one-off Couture pieces and that kind of kept coming throughout the whole career. Then I have gone to ready-to-wear, to menswear and then I have fallen out of it and now it is kind of coming back in a different way. And then I had licensing deals working with other brands – so there has been a whole kind of wave of different ways that my label has evolved. Today it is probably more focused than it has been in terms of the direction and in terms of what I kind of wanted to stand for. Up until probably a few years ago I was just trying something new being experimental and being adventurous and really just going with what felt right whereas now, it is a little bit more kind of strategic I guess. But at the same time it’s still something I am very excited about. So, a majority of it now is ready-to-wear which is kind of behind you (pointing to the racks) but even then it sits at a level for evening, cocktail, party and a little bit of dressy daywear. I don’t think that I am super casual (laughing). It is rather a mix-up – I mean I like the idea that a women kind of dresses up. It’s like a fantasy I always had as a kid seeing my mum and women on TV and in movies. Be it beautiful accessories, a beautiful bag or just having a beautiful dress, there was always something exciting about these things or just dressing for yourself.
Who is the Maticevski woman?
TM: I think she is really broad and bit adventurous. I have clients who are 18-25 and then there is like 25-35 and then there is like 35-55. They are all very different personalities but they kind of find things in each category which I really get excited about because it doesn’t mean it’s one women - you don’t have to do this or that, to be successful. I like the idea that she is either a professional, a mother, a wife or a business woman.
When creating clothing items, do you think about your customer first or do you start with a blank canvas?
TM: Sometimes it’s balancing these two ideas. Sometimes I do go with what I would like to see my customer try on and sometimes it is like, “well I know she would have only worn this”. Or there is someone that I can kind of tap into who is different and new that could kind of fall into that piece or area.
What was your inspiration for your current RTW resort collection you are presenting here in Paris?
TM: It started from last season which was our Spring/Summer 14 Collection which is quite the opposite to Europe. A lot of the collection was about the 1950s, sort of feminine shapes, keeping in mind Grace Kelly. I was looking at ways to make it less old-fashioned. So when we were doing a lot of model castings, it was interesting to see models who were quite grungy and it was nice to see them putting these dresses on and kind of feel different about themselves. And then it sort of became this thing of like “she is a tumbler but she likes to dress up”. It sort of then filtered out in that way in terms of like; this piece is for the ladies and this piece is for the kind of cooler girls who want to look a bit more feminine or a bit more trendy if they are dressing up in a different way or piecing just things together.
Why did you decide to come back to Paris after seven years?
TM: We were thinking “do we do London, do we do Paris or then again Milan”? We were really juggling with these ideas but Paris in the end just felt right and also a lot of the people we wanted to see or that wanted to see us were all going to be in Paris. This was the easiest kind of solution and I love Paris. I was lived here from 1999 until 2004.
Do you speak any French?
TM: Very basic or broken. I mean it is okay, it is very basic but even then it is very broken because I have forgotten a lot.
How has the reaction of international buyers been?
TM: It has been really positive. Seeing these people come in was great because they contacted us after the last show. I mean this is bad, but we didn’t really work hard – I mean we worked hard in terms of getting the collection ready. But in terms of getting people to us, we didn’t make any extra effort. Usually when you send out Lookbooks nothing happens. But I think having worked so hard for the last two years, it is nice to see these kinds of results. It’s been an interesting learning curve as well for what some people were looking for. We have written about five new accounts. All of these new buyers have been observing us over the years and they knew the history of the brand which was kind of flattering.
Where are your new buyers from?
TM: They are from Singapore, UK, Asia and Middle East.
How can Parisians buy from your collection?
TM: We are launching our online store this September and I think that is probably the best way.
You are showcasing regularly during Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week Australia or Mercedez-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney. How do these promotional activities affect your brand?
TM: It’s great. I mean I love doing Fashion Week and fashion shows. The hardest part is when it hits your budget and you are like “I really wish I could afford that $20.000 extra for lighting”. I don’t know how these editors do 20 shows in one day for like five months. I mean I enjoy doing it, my team and people get really excited and it gives us visibility.
PL: The benefits of Fashion Week are that you are kind of reenergizing the industry: we work so closely with all these editors, stylists and photographers throughout the year. For example they see the collection, they shoot it so we work strategically on placements. When it comes to a Fashion Week, you kind of get to give a performance and you need to give the buzz because if the audience gets excited, we get excited.
TM: And it triggers other ideas and it just becomes this melting pot of ideas and creative thoughts.
What do you think about the new strategic direction that MBFW Australia took by changing its location to Carriageworks and putting forward the new date?
TM: I think it’s the best thing they have done in terms of selling, media, including international visitors, and the venue was amazing. From everyone that we heard from, it was the “best move” because it was a little bit hard (previously). Melbourne has a Fashion Festival around the same time which caused a little bit of a friction but I think with this move the problem has been resolved quite easily.
PL: It was beneficial for sales because what was happening the way it was last time is that a lot of people would sell their collections early because they had to cut their orders off in order to commence production to get it delivered.
TM: The media had already seen the collection, so it was kind of no point to do a show because everything had been already seen or shot.
According to you, does MBFW Australia have the potential to join the other “big 4”?
TM: It’s a nice idea but I think the distance would really kill a lot of people – having to jump onto the plane for 24 hours during a Fashion Week period is just too difficult.
PL: I think it is important to bring that awareness to the fashion industry by having it on the circuit – it would be good but then again it is so far away. I did find it weird though that a lot of internationals would come up like “oh do you have a Fashion Week over there?!”.
TM: That’s the thing it’s not covered on international websites or magazines which is strange because all the other cities like São Paulo, Berlin and Japan have coverage.
PL: If we had the potential to have more international players at our Fashion Weeks, it would be great – I think there is always benefit in that. But then at the same time how many are really going to travel all that way to work… But then again, I remember a few years ago, like way back, there were a lot of international buyers coming to the shows. There used to be a lot.
TM: Yes from the US, Europe, Asia – I mean a long time ago there used to be a whole Asian component to the Fashion Week. People from like Hong Kong, Singapore would be present in Australia.
PL: It was massive – literally they had delegates that were taking care of all these buyers.
Do you intend to present your collection on a regular basis in Paris?
TM: After this week’s results most definitely. So yeah we will be back in September.
Görkem Hayta: After having seen this collection, we are eagerly awaiting his next collection with sculptural designs inspired and supported by the outline of the body.