"When I left school I thought fashion was where I wanted to be," admits Alex Smyth-Kirk, designer of upcoming accessories label Vera Xane. Though career pathways can often be make-or-break decisions, Alex is testament that you don't necessarily have to get it right the first time. "Three years into my degree I realised I didn't want to be a fashion designer." So she left and crossed over to an Arts degree whilst dreaming up her new project that has now been two years in making. About to debut her first collection Dichotomies which takes its inspiration from her long time infatuation with 60's/ 70's rock & roll era, her love of travel and her appreciation of architecture and construction, her designs have already been granted a tick of approval from InStyle, Vogue China and Shop Til You Drop. Late last year I had the chance to chat with the inspiring Alex. Read on to find out more!
On growing up in a rock & roll background:
I was brought up around that [rock & roll] music my whole life. There’s memorabilia all over my parents house. When I go to trivia it’s my job to answer all the questions about music. There’s ridiculous things from the 60’s that I just happen to know. My dad had this magazine called Drift that he started when he was 23 while studying at UNSW - which is where I just finished my degree. It started as a university based newspaper but it eventually became national. He's met members of the Rolling Stones and all kinds of interesting people in the industry. When we were first designing elements of the brand, I pulled out all these archive copies for inspiration.
On drawing from architecture:
On drawing from architecture:
In the last five years, I’ve travelled a lot since finishing school and I constantly find myself drawn to cage shapes. Sometimes it’s really literal. Like I have an obsession with those electrical towers. I was in Dubai in July and there was thousands of them one after another - I think it’ll come out more in future seasons. Even [Antoni] Gaudi and that non-literal approach to design really influence my aesthetic.
On some of her favourite places to travel:
I absolutely adore Morocco. Everyone goes to Marrakech - though I love Marrakech because it has quite a rock & roll background (the Beatles and the Rolling Stones used to go there all the time) - Fez is still one of my favourite places. We stayed inside the Casbah and it’s this crazy ancient town where you start walking down little alley ways and they get smaller and smaller until you get to a tiny door. It’s like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
These days I’m in Bali all the time [Alex then proceeds to give me suggestions on her Bali hotspots]. If you do Bali the right way it’s so much fun. You can have twice as much fun as you have in Sydney, for way less money.
On the Vera Xane woman:
When I’m designing I definitely have a girl in mind. She is the kind of girl who would dress in Ellery but loves vintage, someone who doesn’t just follow fashion for the sake of it. She’s not a literal fashion girl but is more aware of it. She has a love and appreciation for design. But at the same time she’s edgy, young and smart. Women like Leigh Lezark and Georgia May Jagger are some of my modern muses. I have always had an obsession with the Jagger girls and Ronnie Wood’s daughters. I love the daughters of rock & roll. They're like this cool modern version of everything their parents stood for.
I love arm parties but not in the Man Repeller sense. I love mixing high and low. I have no dramas with getting Topshop rings and pairing them with Bvlgari. Vintage and unique travel finds are also a must - there’s nothing more beautiful than having something that no one else can get. I tried to make my collection look like something that not everyone else would have. It’s a mixed metal collection - that’s how I tried to introduced ‘colour’ into my wardrobe.
Dichotomies will be available online next month.