Wednesday, 6 May 2015

FASHFEST Special: Q&A with Rockstars & Royalty

I have to the recall I moment I discovered Canberra designer Rockstars & Royalty a few years ago when my friend was reading a wedding magazine.
Flicking through pages, I stopped at a dress by R&R and I was speechless. Her fantastical designs gave me chills. This self taught design maven and woman behind the label, UK born, Vicky Kidd-Gallichan will be featured for a third time at FASHFEST. Find out how this local event has impacted her brand and who she would love to dress before her collection hits the runway next Thursday. 

1. Fashfest has been such a important event for Canberra designers, how has it impacted your label?

Fashfest has been amazing for me. In the past I've mainly shown my gowns at wedding fairs and other small events so it's been fantastic to show them at a fashion event of this scale. It's made a whole new audience aware of my label and what I do. I've also had some great press and media coverage through Fashfest. It's also the first time that I've had the opportunity to put together whole collections,  rather than just making one or two sample gowns here and there, and that is something I'm really enjoying doing.

2. Growing up around sewing and designing, aside from your mum, who else has been an inspiration to who you are now as a designer?

One of the people who helped me a lot when I was just starting out was David Western. He had a shop in Portsmouth designing and making wedding dresses. I'd been working out of my spare bedroom and had decided that I wanted to do more wedding dresses, so I popped in to his shop to have a chat to him and he became my mentor. He let me share stands with him at wedding fairs and we often had clients where I'd do the corset and he'd do the skirt. He taught me a lot about the bridal industry too. When I opened my shop, we'd often end up popping in to see each other and bouncing ideas off each other. When I was preparing to move to Australia David was looking for a new shop and decided to take over mine and we ended up sharing it for the 6 months before I moved which was fantastic. We had so much fun. I can't wait to catch up with him and see what he's up to when I go back to the UK in July. 

3. Your couture gowns are divine, is Paris Fashion Week something you can see in your future?

I would LOVE to show a collection at Paris Fashion Week. That would be a dream come true. I adore France and get a lot of inspiration when I visit there. My collection last year was inspired by a ruined French chateau. Plus my Mum lives in France so she'd be able to come and see my show!

4. When you studied corsetry in England, were there moments you thought it was too hard and what advice do you have for designers to pull through a "moment"?

My sewing and corsetry is completely self taught. Corsetry is definitely not an easy skill to learn, and when I decided that was what I wanted to do back in the 90s, there were no YouTube tutorials or websites to help, so it was a complete guessing game and lots of trial and error. I bought a bodice pattern that had similar seams to a corset that I had seen, and modified that to make my first ever corset. I used plastic boning and hooks and eyes instead of a busk. I would have been easy to give up then, but I could see the potential so I persevered. I found a haberdashery shop in London that sold corsetry components and I started experimenting and making corsets for my friends for the cost of the materials while I learnt how to fit them and modified my patterns. Some of the early ones were terrible! My advice to designers having a 'moment’ would be to keep trying. We've all had plenty of failures, but it's what you learn from the failures and do differently next time that helps you improve and perfect your art. I still have failures now, but they're all a stepping stone to making it bigger and better the next time.

5. Your dream person to dress?

I'd have to say Dita. She's so timeless and elegant and dresses and styles herself to perfection. I was watching the Logies the other night and so many of the the girls looked so similar - the same tans, the same hair, possibly the same plastic surgeon! Dita always stands out for being herself when you see her on the red carpet. I've always been 'different' and I'm always excited to design for any woman who is true to herself and doesn't conform to what everyone else is doing. Thankfully my amazing clients fit this. I get to make gowns for some awesome women who aren't afraid to be themselves which makes me very happy.

6. What's next for Rockstars and Royalty?

My next exciting adventure is in July this year when I fly back to the UK for my best friend's wedding. I'll have 2 weeks to make her dress once I get there. We've been planning for months, talking on Skype and I've been sending fabric samples over. Pinterest has been a big help too! It's lucky she's calm and trusts me to get it done. I can't imagine many brides that would be relaxed enough to have their dress made entirely that close to the wedding! After that I'll be visiting my family in France, then it'll be back to Australia and straight into wedding season and Christmas markets. I can't wait. I've got some very exciting gowns booked in over the next 6 months.

See Rockstars and Royaly on the runway on Day 2 at FASHFEST.

Photo Credits: Real bride, Elissa Michel wearing a custom Rockstars and Royalty gown with black belt taken by Fusion Photography; Model, Paris Yves in lavender dress taken by Lori Cicchini of Loriana fotografia with Hair and make up by Lauren Cataldo; Dita von Teese taken by Albert Sanchez; Fashfest event photos taken by Andrew Campbell and Martin Ollman.