Samantha Bailey launches luxury brand at MBFWA

www has been in the industry for 26 years, and in the last couple of years she has been based in London designing high-end evening wear for a white label company. She knows and has researched the apparel market extensively. On the eve of Mercedes-Benz Australia Fashion Week she kindly gave me a preview to her own luxe label launching today.

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The first thing that strikes you about the label is the colours. Exclusive, digitally printed Italian silks (also available in one colour too) that are, she points out, extreme close-ups of minerals such as copper and agate in really intense in hues. The collection is manufactured in Australia, out of choice. Having worked with China before, Samantha wants to be able to supervise the work at all times and her pieces are created by the same atelier doing the collections for the best high-end Australian designers of whom Dion Lee is one, also showing at MBFWA.

20140406-102913.jpg Although a small collection, made up mostly of evening gowns and reversible jackets, it is incredibly unique and not just because of the print. It's the way that the pieces have been thought out.

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Making the collection available only to department stores and online means that you've got give the client the right product at the first shot! Apparently one in three customers buying online returns the item based on sizing issues, so here is where Samantha shines. She uses unique fastenings such as buttons, elastics, clasps and features such as detachable mini capes and scarves that not only make a size 8 fit a size 9 but a size 10 too, as well as letting you get two looks out of one piece. That takes a lot of observing and listening to client feedback, but then that is the sort of person Samantha is. And as she takes me through each piece extolling the virtues of a pleat here and a tuck there, a lighter colour on top, darker on the bottom...Whether it be to hide a tummy or to make a bottom or bosom a little fuller, I realise her expertise in the female body and how easy my job would be as a buyer in ordering her collection or as an image consultant referring a client.

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As a first peek into the world of Australian design, I am definitely excited! What will today bring?

All photographs by Olivia Bentley