Let’s start from the beginning! What are some of your earliest fashion memories?
I’ve always been surrounded by crafty ladies who taught me to knit and sew from an early age. This began my love of the craft and very likely influenced the way I produce fashion now. My interest has always been in creating new things and trying new techniques rather than following trends.
Can you tell us a little about how Alice Nightingale began?
The label started in 2009 after I graduated fashion college. I kept being told that to start my own label, I needed to have my pieces mass produced – this didn’t sit well with me. Sweat shops and other nasty things aside, I didn’t want to give up sewing and pattern making. So I kept sewing away, making little retro skirts and dresses for local markets and opening up and Etsy store and here I am! Sweat shops avoided!
Your pieces are truly unique and handmade by you – where do you find your inspiration?
I’ve been inspired by my surroundings for some time. A lot of my designs are heavily based on natural Australian flora and fauna, as well as vintage inspired. I design the pieces with Australian life in mind – ready for the city, the beach, a road trip and full of dry humour and silliness!
You’ll be participating in Brisbane City Council’s Recreate Paper Fashion Show on Friday November 4, where you’ve been given the task to create runway fashion out of paper. What can you tell us about your design?
I went full retro with my paper design this year! I’ve made a 1950s ballgown from Doughnut Time boxes. It’s definitely not the easiest thing I’ve ever created, the cardboard and the sewing machine weren’t the greatest of friends but I got there in the end.
This isn’t your first time creating a paper frock for Recreate – last year you sent a stunning dress created with Frankie Magazines down the runway. What is it like working with paper instead of fabric?
I had a blast working with the Frankie Magazines last year – this has been a great opportunity to broaden my crafty horizons! I love playing with new techniques and applying fabric rules to a whole new medium. With both dresses, I was keen to treat it like fabric as much as I could to create movement and curves in an otherwise rigid material.
The paper fashion show and twilight market highlights Brisbane’s efforts to be a clean, green and sustainable city. What are your thoughts on sustainability in the fashion industry?
I’m so proud of this initiative, it gets people at home thinking about how we can all re-use so many items that are ready to be thrown away. If we can get people thinking about paper waste, hopefully this will lead to discussion about fabric waste. There’s already a growing push toward buying quality items, less often and I’d love to see this view more widely accepted in the fashion industry. Buying handmade, learning how to sew and avoiding the mass production cycle will always be better for the environment!
What is your most coveted item in your wardrobe?
With summer coming on, my embroidery print swim set! I’m ready to spend another summer in it (paired with a vintage or homemade dress!)
What is your style mantra?
Be yourself! Push trends and fast fashion aside and find pieces that suit your personality, body shape and skin tone – you can’t go wrong!
Catch the action at Brisbane City Council’s Recreate Paper Fashion Show and Twilight Market on Friday November 4 from 5:00–10:00 pm at King George Square.