The day I drove out to visit Amie Darragh’s studio it was grey, and pouring with rain. The roads were slippery, I couldn’t see more than a metre in front of me, and I had already text her (if cops/my mum is reading this, I was pulled over) to apologize for being late. I’m not a great driver and absolutely despise my own tardiness, so upon arriving at Darragh’s terrace house/studio in Melbourne’s North Carlton, I was an anxious wreck. However my stomach cramps and heart palpitations completely evaporated as Amie led me into her small studio lined with racks of pastel hued clothing, instead replaced by that fluttery feeling you get in your chest when you see something you know is really special. And a big fat cat called Giuseppe.
Amie herself is slight and dark haired, and was dressed like one of those effortlessly cool girls you (or just me?) try to stare at inconspicuously (without looking like a sexual predator) until you work up the courage to ask where they got every single thing they are wearing. But I didn’t have to frantically Google “cool pastel bomber jacket” to know the source of Amie’s get up; I could tell from the clothing surrounding us that she was head to toe in her own label, Kinoak.
Despite the Autumn/Winter collection entitled “Rookie” being Kinoak’s first season, Darragh is hardly a novice to the industry.
“I didn’t study fashion, I studied pattern-making, so I was keen to learn hands-on,” Darragh explains of her internships at both Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester, the latter turning into a 3 year full time position, “I wanted to learn as much as I could first working for others.” Following this experience, she moved to Melbourne and worked as production manager at P.A.M. (long time favourite of patterned t-shirts/leggings enthusiasts) for 8 years. Despite spending over a decade working for other creative tour de force’s, developing her own line has always been in the back of Darragh’s mind; “I guess I was just waiting for the right time,” she says.
Biding her time has certainly paid off. Kinoak’s inaugural collection reflects Darragh’s experience and careful consideration, a casual yet sophisticated amalgamation of sports style outerwear with soft, feminine pieces. Silk shirts and puffer vests, delicate dresses with bomber jackets.
“I didn’t think about it too much, I just sort of let it happen and this is what came out,” Darragh said of her design process. “It’s always a mash up of influences, generally sort of sportswear and vintage, I kind of work with colour first, and then work a little bit backwards”.
Among the inspirations for this season was the athletic aesthetic of the TV show Friday Night Lights, not so subtly paying homage to bad boy quarterback with the “I Heart Riggins” bomber (pictured); Darragh’s favourite piece of the collection.
“My partner and I started watching [Friday Night Lights] and we were hooked… Sometimes we’d watch three episodes in a row!” Darragh admitted. I decided against telling her that I had spent the previous evening in an O.C. coma, and only came to when Marissa was dead and the title music was playing on repeat. Maybe I should be a designer.