(Left) Interstellar top \ solid gold thigh high leggins \ $ 235
Zip back foil mini skirt \ $395 Tri zip foil crop jacket \ $795 Ziggurat earrings \ $195
It’s Saturday afternoon in Melbourne and fashion designer Alexi Freeman is working from his studio on Johnston Street, tucked up a curved stairwell above a gallery and across the street from the Tote. It’s the grunge end of town – the slice of Collingwood that remains reasonably untouched by the gentrification that stole Smith and Brunswick streets.
Freeman surrounds himself with racks of garments, drawings and fabrics that are works in progress. It’s his inner-city cave – where he dreams up ready-to-wear collections and is drawn to old-world glamour and postmodern dreaming.
Born in Tasmania, Freeman began as a printmaker/sculptor before embarking on a career in fashion.
“When I was an artist I was always showing in galleries,” says Freeman. “Having your art on walls in a gallery was great, but there is something more instantaneous with fashion.”
His latest autumn/winter collection, Rock Star, is a pun of sorts. Yes, there’s a glam hook, but Freeman has literally played with the words rock and star to develop a space-like aura.
The Tri Zip Foil Crop Jacket looks like leather but is made of cotton and painted gold to emulate a leathery look. “No animals were killed the process,” he says.
While some pieces are daringly out there, Freeman knows how to keep the range within grasp. There’s gorgeous Italian merino wool used for trenchcoats that adds to the timeless factor.
“We wanted the collection to be relevant to women not only in fabrication but also in price point and cut,” says Freeman, who has been running his label since 2006.
“There’s a range of fabrics from little cotton jersey T-shirts that people can wear all year round to rayon dresses and merino jersey, which is a little bit higher end.”
He describes his approach as a labour of love.
“I certainly don’t do this for the money,” he says. “I think it might be easier to work a nine-to-five job for another designer, but a lot goes into making the collection and I love being committed to something that is mine.”
Last year Freeman designed costumes for The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary Infinity season. He worked on Gideon Obarzanek’s There’s Definitely a Prince Involved. The costumes were based around palm-tree motifs – in flesh, black and white, and bone-like patterns.
“I had done costume design back in the ’90s,” he says. “So this wasn’t anything new.”
Theatrics aside, it’s all about winter’s shimmer. Think gold lamé, shiny metallic leggings and heavyweight coats.
Modelled by Kate Peck, the range is a touch Marc Bolan T-Rex glam, nods to a late ’70s/early ’80s Blondie new-wave vibe and moves to its own planetary beat.
“I am always trying to add to the vernacular of fashion instead of perpetuating it,” says Freeman.
Interstellar is a museum piece collaboration with Melbourne jeweller Tessa Blazey.
Rebekah Hardwick just premiered her ready-to-wear cocktail dress collection at the Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week. Hardwick is all about feminine lace dresses and tailored jackets. Available from August.
Anthea Solopotias runs a Port Melbourne fashion boutique called Ganache and has just launched her own label. This brocade skirt stirs old-world glamour. It’s perfect when teamed with a fitted body suit. Stockist: 9681 7007
This Dutch handbag (made in Italy) is all about limited-edition runs of quality leather and suede varieties. We love the contours and bright colours. The label is now available at Oscar and Wild in Kew.