Earlier this month Sydney based designer Emma Mulholland proved to not only the Australian fashion industry, but the world that she drippin’ swagoo. When the first images of the designer herself and face of the collection, Aussie it-model Ollie Henderson dropped, rocking the covetable iguana print bomber jacket, most people’s jaws dropped in unison, followed by a resounding ‘oooooooooof.’
Mulholland’s most recent collection for Spring/Summer ’13 Bad As I Guana Be, which she presented at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, is an intensely fresh and crisp representation of her exceptional eye for detail and ability to fuse contrasting textures, as well as her desire to push the boundaries of one of the most fast paced and disposable creative industries.
Since being chosen as one of four students to show at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in 2011 as part of the Ultimo TAFE show, the name Emma Mulholland and her vibrant designs have been a hot topic on the fashion industry’s lips, epitomised by “colors, prints and embellishment,” as described by the young designer herself.
“I went straight to TAFE from school, previous occupations I was interested in were nurse or pilot, so pretty glad I went with this one. During TAFE I interned at Romance Was Born, Dion Lee and Oyster Magazine, where I got some invaluable experience in the fashion industry which really helped me with starting my own label.”
These experiences have undeniably influenced Mulholland’s signature style, with bursts of Romance Was Born colour meets the sophistication, futuristic and intricate cuts of Dion Lee, but most of all, it was the freedom of expression and individuality which drew the New South Wales native to the creative and always evolving industry;
“Fashion is about having fun with things you like, its a shallow way of showing the world what you are about and what you are into. I appreciate a really wide range of styles and I like when people do something different and don’t just follow trends,” Mulholland divulged.
More recently, Mulholland has been inspired by a mirage-like “basketball game between two lizards from the mexican dessert, the chilled out Iguanas (labeled the ‘Cold Blooded Chillers’) versus the Gilla Monsters,” with her latest offering Bad As I Guana Be, for Spring/Summer ’13 blending retro design elements of classic sportswear with sun, surf and a penchant for otherworldly elements.
“Iguanas are so weird and alien like. I was quite drawn to them and the kind of multi-coloured look to their skin. I just saw so much potential for embellishment, same with the Gila Monster, it’s nicknamed ‘beaded lizard’ so was obviously perfect for beading!” she exclaimed.
Flora, fauna and a deep rooted affinity to be connected holistically to nature undeniably tend to be a constant thread fusing Mulholland’s past and present designs together, something which she finds to be a common occurrence when starting and developing her creative process.
“I always find myself starting off with a broad inspiration. Like this time it was Mexico, but then getting so much inspiration from the animals existing in those places that they somehow take over. I just started my winter so we will see if it manages to take over the idea I have now.”
Despite not showing at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia this week, Portable favourite and global blogging sensation Susie Bubble touted Mulholland’s presentation as a highlight, something which the young designer was undoubtedly excited by.
“I love Susie! She was very sweet to me, even to my Mum! I was very happy to the response to both the movie, event and look book. It was nice people put in the effort even though I chose not to do a show this year, everyone was keen for a drink by the Wednesday so it made for a fun night!”
Also having found a fan in the always fashion-forward, womenswear loving, Kanye West, (he bought one of Mulholland’s backpacks at local Melbourne haunt Alice Euphemia earlier this year, which he ‘said he [was] gonna use… as a reference‘), has created a buzz around Mulholland’s designs. While Yeezy hasn’t reached out to Mulholland personally, we’re sure it won’t be long until celebrities fond of hyper-colour creations start knocking at her door.
“For sure I would make something if he [West] asked. Although I’m not sure I’m really his style. I would probably try and get my hands on some pretty exotic skins as that what he seems to be into. I would love to make something for Azealia Banks or M.I.A.”
Bad As I Guana Be is extremely diverse, from bomber jackets to sequined dresses, printed pants, knits and meshes, incorporated together. From “watching movies, reading blogs, magazines and books to get inspiration,” Mulholland’s appreciation and interpretation of pop culture is a delightfully refreshing take on the sometimes fickle world of fashion.
Made for people during the warmer months in “places I would rather be like down at the beach drinking margaritas or travelling overseas,” something which could be a disaster is avoided by Mulholland’s unique take on styling, something which is a constant thought when designing and putting together a collection, which she explained and ultimately executed for Bad As I Guana Be.
“I covered a fair bit this time, after only doing a small capsule winter collection. I really wanted to have enough options to please everyone. I like collections that have a lot of different textures as I feel it makes for cool styling and layering of the pieces. The next winter collection will definitely be bigger.”
Working with Alex Goddard on the accompanying fashion film (featured on Portable) for the collection, Mulholland was able to extend the reach of Bad As I Guana Be, by bringing to life the collection through movement and attitude. Mulholland told Portable, “It was really fun! I was involved by choosing the theme and idea but Alex and Byron (Spencer) took on a lot from there, it was great seeing it all come together though. I definitely enjoy doing stuff that isn’t just designing, like styling.”
Evolution seems to be a constant theme recurring in Mulholland’s technicolour designs, spawning from a love of extremely theatrical pieces to more ready-to-wear urban, sportswear inspired garments. The momentum of the young designer has grown consistently since her Queen Aurelia collection last year, where surf wear met maximalism to her most recent pieces which blend light, athletic materials with futuristic cuts.
“I like the direction the label has taken in my past two collections, moving on from that sort of un-wearable crazy stuff I was encouraged to do at TAFE. Not that I didn’t love it, but I am moving to a more wearable collections now that I have picked up stockists. I hope that it continues in this direction and that I can extend the mens, swimwear and accessories lines as I had a lot of fun doing them!”