The perspective on Australian Fashion from those who have left it with consultant designer for Bottega Veneta, Talisa Trantino.
Please describe your experiences in the Fashion Industry.
My career really started after winning the Australian Fashion Foundation award in 2013 in my graduate year at RMIT University. As part of the prize I was granted a 6 month graduate trainee position at Alexander McQueen in London under Sarah Burton. What I thought would only be 6 months turned into one year and half at the house. For the first 12 months I worked very closely as part of the RTW womenswear team on all stages of the collection, from research to show. I worked between the design floor and the atelier to explore new ideas with a real attention to cut, technique and construction. It was demanding but in hindsight such a creative role. The atelier had a lot of the original pattern makers and machinists that Lee Mcqueen worked with himself and it was special to experience that - not to mention exposure to the archive of Lee’s work which the house has put into conservation. I later transitioned into a smaller specialised time in leather where my role was focused on, but not limited to visual research and 3D design. Alexander McQueen was not really my aesthetic but it was such an incredibly rich experience that gave me a very technical and creative foundation to my career.
With my two-year UK visa coming to an end, I decided to take a 2-month opportunity to intern at Celine in Phoebe Philo’s London design studio. It was a short stint but I witnessed such a beautiful process of research and design in an aesthetic that felt more real to me.
I spent the rest of my two year visa trying to squeeze in as much as I could, even dabbling in some writing at Dazed Digital magazine. I had an Italian passport on the way through heritage, but it didn’t quite come in time so I started to look at where I could work in Australia. I was attracted to Ellery, particularly since the brand had a foot in Europe by showing on the PFW calendar. I met Kym Ellery in her Paris showroom and a couple of weeks later she brought me on board. I thought I’d be working in Sydney but she had just moved to Paris and wanted me based in Paris with her where she would open a design studio. I lived in Paris for three years and was responsible for designing the RTW, leather and denim collections.
I left Ellery in early 2019 deciding to take a creative break from the industry. I spent a year travelling, spending time with family and researching before landing my most recent and current role at Bottega Veneta in Milan. I work in the design team consulting on jewellery and eyewear and am loving working into a new category with such a talented team.
What was your opinion on entering the Australian fashion industry when you did?
Why did you want to and how did you perceive it?
The decision was fuelled by visa issues but I was also keen to spend more time on Aussie turf - Australia will always be home. I’d travel to Sydney 3-4 times a year at crucial times of the collection - it was such a nice offset to Paris life and it’s important to spend time out too. It felt like a much smaller industry but I was really excited to bring my experience and process to an Australian brand.
What made you decide to leave the Australian Fashion Industry?
I spent 80 percent of my time in Paris during my role at Ellery. I never really decided to ‘leave’ the Australian Fashion Industry as such, I’ve moved around three major cities in my career for opportunities. I did however want to continue working in luxury fashion and Europe is home to that, so I’m an aussie designer working in Europe for now. There’s so many Australians working abroad in the industry that I think the idea of ‘The Australian Fashion Industry’ should not be restricted by geography.
How has your experience working in fashion internationally shaped your perspective on the Australian fashion industry today?
I’ve always said I wanted to learn and work abroad while I could, and I’ve become a better designer because of it. There’s plenty of creative talent in Australia but my experience working in London, Paris and Milan has shown that Australia in some ways lacks the scope for designers to flourish without leaving. I think there’s an opportunity to change that. In the same breath, we don’t have the same history or culture as say, Paris or a historic couture house, so the Australian Fashion Industry can have more of a fresh perspective that can be pushed and championed.
What does Australian fashion look like from your side of the world?
I never look too closely at what other brands are doing in general, and this is how I try to keep my eye fresh and a bit more instinctive to where I am working. But what I am noticing is a really nice, smaller scene and community of creatives collaborating across a spectrum of backgrounds. It’s much more local and I am particularly noticing this in Melbourne at the moment.
What continues to motivate you working in the fashion industry?
My work is very close to me and I spend a great deal of time researching or just keeping my eye open to absolutely anything, and instinctively you kind of dream up a product or idea. It doesn’t stop and I love what I do. Fashion is rare in that it affords me the ability to work and collaborate with craftsmen and all kinds of talent across the arts and culture - this freedom motivates me.
What is your forecast to the future of fashion media?
I’m obsessed with print and hope the future continues to have a place for it. I spend hours in libraries and have amassed quite the collection of books and magazines. It’s kind of crazy how much imagery we absorb daily on social media and this has influenced fashion media incredibly. We are starting to see brands shift from using social media to commissioning their own work and platforms which is so exciting. My forecast would be that film and moving image will be explored much more in the future than it has already.
What is the biggest thing you think needs to change? Globally and also Australian specific
Fashion undeniably needs a lot of change. I’ve been fortunate to work with factories and mills in Europe that have generations of craftsmanship and expertise that I have so much admiration for. To see what they do is magic and I’m really scared to lose this craft, or that it won’t be passed on. I hope that Australian manufacturing continues to grow, be championed and invested in.