Sep 26, 2013 12:54PM

Mood Boards: Dress Up by Stephanie Downey

A crafty look at SS13/14.

From muses to movies to music, inspiration has always played a big role in the fashion process. 'Flora', the latest offering by Melbourne based label Dress Up,  is no exception. With its native floral prints, banksia-inspired darts and natural colour palette, SS13/14 is inspired by the natural world. We spoke to designer Stephanie Downey about the mood boards she made to motivate herself through the late nights of stiching and sewing that went into 'Flora.' Turns out that this seemingly garden-inspired range also had connections to Liv Tyler in Stealing Beauty, Robert Altman films and then some.  

Laila Sakini: What is this collection about and what are its inspirations? 
Stephanie Downey: I wanted to use native flowers in a way that wasn't the ironic or kitsch way you see Australiana interpreted a lot. I commissioned Bernadette Pascua (an Illustrator from NY) to design the pattern, knowing she would have a removed perspective. Growing up, my parents planted mostly natives in our garden –  Banksia, Protea, Waratah, Wattle. I wanted to depict the flowers as seen through my eyes as a child. I am perpetually inspired by the 90s too – we all probably hold onto the era of our adolescence.
Can you talk about the design process that you undertook for the range? How has it differed from your past work?
The collection revolved around the print design – that’s not been such a central focus for me before. It's not a highly conceptual print or anything, but I think it really evoked a mood and train of thought. Details in the print gave me ideas for silhouettes and the mood of the collection. 
What can you tell us about your mood board?
It's what's in my head mostly. Usually I build more ideas as I'm designing and a story gradually contextualizes. I have a box of old family photos at my studio which I look through all the time, and photography books and magazines. Most frequented are Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, The Gentlewoman magazine and Plant Journal.
Could you list the most prominent or overarching references that you were interested in when designing this collection?
I always watch a lot of films before I start designing – recently I've been re-inspired by some favourite Robert Altman films - Short Cuts and Three Women. His female characters are so excellent. I've been slowly reading Joan Didion's novels and essays over the past year and find her writing so inspiring. I also read this book before I was designing this range called The Queens Gambit – it's a portrait of this girl that's really unique and memorable. 
What's your sense of how your inspiration and ideas are understood by others? 
I hope that girls who are attracted to my clothes sense that there is more of a story behind the brand.
Is there a muse, era or medium that you find yourself frequently channeling? What's the attraction?
Mostly I find ideas from watching films. I find this the most stimulating medium for me because I like to imagine the clothing I design in context – and this kind of sets the scene. I take photos of the TV with a film camera, then I can have the stills to look at and think about. 
If this mood board were a sentence or quote, what would it say?
Hi, I'm from Australia? Ha ha. 
Laila Sakini