Sarah Darby has a unique talent and it's the gift of illustration. Sarah felt a need for change and wanted to have a career on her own terms. Having not picked up a pencil since she was 16, she decided to take some night classes and post her work up on social media. Sarah's followers have fallen in love with her fashion illustrations and watched as her artistic skills came to life. Since her rise to fame, she has worked with renowned brands, has been named one of Harper’s Bazaar’s ‘12 Australian Fashion Illustrators to follow’ and was an official illustrator at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival for 2015 and 2016.
Have fun and support others who like to draw. Comment on each other works and encourage. Don’t see other artists as competition - go and make friends! And be bold. Approach people you want to collab. The worst they can do is ignore you or say no thanks. That’s not so bad really, is it!
Meet fashion designer student Hayleah Ralph. Hayleah is inspired by all things fantasy and mystical. Having always been surrounded by Art at a young age, her childhood days were filled with countless art and craft activities. She was encouraged to express herself and think outside the box and question normality.
Now as a designer Her imagination runs wild and free. She strongly encourages the expression of ones self through fashion and to be the main character of your own fairy tail. Hayleah is finalising her studies at Academy of Design(Bachelor in Design Arts Majoring in Fashion Design) Inspiring her to create her own fashion label right here in Melbourne called Delightful Darling. Her creations are marvellously unique wholly inspired and based upon fairytale books. I was thrilled to collaborate with Hayleah and her collection, it is based on “The Folk of the Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton.
How long have you wanted a career in fashion?
Many designers have dreamt of being a designer since when they were little, but for me it was right at the end of year twelve. When I was choosing what university courses to apply for. I have always enjoyed being creative and dressing up but it wasn’t until then that I really considered a career in fashion.
Tell us about your brand delightful darling
“Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale.” Delightful Darling aims to embody and share the essence of this statement with the world. Specialising in feminine aesthetic and child like details. The label is all about expressing yourself and having a play with your own look. The collection is exceptionally versatile; incorporating many reversible pieces. This creating ultimate wear ability and allowing the customer to tailor the collection to their own personal style.
You’re currently a student at academy of design in your final year of fashion design ,tell us more about your current experience with the academy of design and what you have achieved since attending.
Through out my time at the Academy I’ve been encouraged to really push myself as a creative,br I feel this has shaped me into the designer I am today. Last year I was lucky enough to be selected for a scholarship with a group of nine other students. I traveled to Paris and London on a two week study. This experience was a huge eye opener for me because i had experienced so much culture and exciting opportunities with the scholarship. This year I also asked to participate in “ A Capital Collection “ runway show as part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival cultural program. I was asked to create two looks based on the 60’s. This was a great event as it allowed me to network with other creative people.
How did you go about sourcing your material for this collection?
A lot of research!! I used utilised websites such as aliexpress and alibaba to help me out.
What inspires you with your brand?
I tend to find my inspiration for Delightful Darling through children’s story books. The launch collection is based on “The Folk of the Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton. The clothes incorporate many hidden details and features like The Enchanted Forrest itself. I aim to carry the story book theme through out all future collections and base every new collection on a different story book.
Who is your target market?
The target customer is a woman who showcases the same fairy tail style and attitudes that the Delightful Darling holds. Puts great thought into how they visually present themselves and uses their style to express themselves in a way of empowerment. The environment in which the label is aimed at are occasions such as tea and garden parties but also whenever the customer wants to feel “classy and fabulous.”
This collection you created something very different with your garments! Tell us.
The collection incorporates some detachable accessories such as cuffs and collars. This adding to the wear ability of the collection and also a feminine touch to any outfit . These accessories also carry their own surprise whimsical feature, they are scented with Jasmine. When these accessories are purchased they also come with a small bottle of scented detergent for them to be hand washed with to reinforce the scent.
What gives you inspiration?
As a designer I gain my inspiration from many places. I really like femininity and anything bright and colourful. I love Spring afternoons and fairytales. I remember standing in Lincraft once and getting overly excited about this beautiful rainbow chiffon material that I found. It had immediately reminded me of a butterfly that I had seen, i knew at that moment i had to have it and create something out of it. I ended up buying the whole ten meters that was left of it!
Have you completed any internship?
Last year I interned for nine weeks at Megan Park. It was a great insight into the industry and networking opportunity.
What are your goals would you like to be an independent brand or work for a brand?
My goal is to develop my label Delightful Darling over the next few years while working for an established designer within the industry to build up my experience. Then ultimately I’d love to work full time on my own independent label.
What fashion designers do you look up to?
There are so many designers that I look up to. One in particular is Melbourne based designer Petrova Hammond, who is the head designer for “Lady Petrova”. I really admire her outlook on the fashion industry and her feminine aesthetic. I actually invited her to the “A Capital Collection” runway that I participated it at the beginning of the year. It was a great opportunity to have a chat to her and hear her advise. I have also invited her to my graduate show at the end of this year and am excited to have her view my collection.
What are your future plans do you wish to achieve?
I would love to have Petrova stock the Delightful Darling label in her boutique . This would be a great achievement for me as I feel the label it extremely suited to that environment. I would also like to travel some more and experience all that life has to offer.
Designed by two sisters from Sydney Hayley & Lauri Smith. The Serpent & the Swan label is inspired by a shared childhood love of the animal kingdom as well somewhat dark and morbid fascination with the anatomy of creatures and their mystical incarnations. Since launching in 2009, Serpent & the Swan has been creating women’s & men’s and androgynous unisex collections paying special attention to cuts lines and shapes.
Hayley Smith has had over 10 years experience in the fashion and costume design industries. Designing for some of the world’s top global fashion brands as well as working alongside musicians creating garments for stage and film.
Lauri Smith comes from a background in fine arts and special effects, which includes the production of prosthetics, props and monster making for television, music clips, clay animation and feature films.
Unique, handcrafted, animal-inspired trimmings adorn each garment. The subtle yet striking hardware takes on many forms including buttons, brooches, zipper-heads and toggles and has become a hallmark of the Serpent & the Swan’s unique handwriting.
Incorporating their different creative backgrounds and a distinctive shared visual aesthetic, the label aims to offer a collection that is both beautifully designed and inspired by the designers own vision, rather than influenced by runway trends.
Serpent & the Swan made their much anticipated debut at MBFWA in 2013 with an installation in The Box, receiving critical acclaim from media and buyers in the Fashion Industry.
Serpent & the Swan has been receiving consistent press coverage in esteemed publications including Vogue Australia, ELLE Australia, GQ, Cleo, RUSSH, Nylon, Remix and Catalogue magazines and well as a number of online publications and celebrity product placement.
Serpent & the Swan collections are sold in selected boutiques throughout Australia, internationally and online.
Now time for the nitty gritty of this intriguing brand. I had the pleasure to interview these two creative sisters!
Your two sisters who have created this brand, tell us more.
What is your label about?
Serpent & the Swan comes from the idea of dualism in nature.
We have always had a shared interest in how animals have been symbolized throughout the centuries and the great significance they hold to many cultures and belief systems.
We believe animals have a deeper more inherent meaning which continues to inspire us and our collections.
Our desire was to create interesting fashion that lasts beyond trends and create something truly unique.
What made you create this label? Tell us your story
We decided to create our own fashion label after both of us were working in the creative industry for many years – Hayley head designing for global brands and Lauri creating limbs and monsters for various projects… we thought we should collaborate and create something truly unique.
How did you get started in all this?
The idea first came to us over a family dinner one night. We decided to merge our creative abilities and backgrounds to create a label that is unique and expresses our joint visual aesthetic.
We both had full time jobs so every weekend we would devote to conceptualizing, designing & visualizing Serpent & the Swan.
Who’s your inspiration/ fashion designers who you look up to?
Our inspiration are not people as such, they are more animals, nature, anatomy and sound that truly inspires us.
How and what gives your inspiration for each collection? Do you go on fashion trips to gain inspiration?
We draw all our inspiration from Nature & sound - whether its from the outer (animals, plants, universe) or inner (anatomy, nerve systems, bone connections) when we are stuck we generally go for a walk in nature or go to the museum which always helps and sparks many concepts.
Who is your target market?
Our customer is anyone who appreciates attention to detail and doesn’t want to follow anybody else really. An independent sole who creates their own path.
How do you go about sourcing your products?
We start by selecting fabric from our favorite Sydney based textile agents, then let the fabric talk.
Where is the final product made?
Our final product is manufactured right here in Sydney Australia.
What’s your current achievement with the brand that you are most proud of?
Definitely the latest musical collaborations we have been involved in. We had the divine sounds of Sarah Blasko singing at our MBFWA show earlier this year, which was incredible! Also recently the lovely Megan Washington modelled for our latest transeasonal collection we just shot last week.
How many years did it take for your idea to hit reality and start becoming a reality?
You have to make your own idea a reality. So as soon as we discovered this was something that was worth pursing we acted on it.
What are your future plans with your label?
To grow our brand internationally. Targeting the USA and Asian market as that’s where most of our organic traffic and interest via our website has come from.
What’s your feeling for future trends
We don’t follow trends. On the contrary, we try to ignore them. We aim to create pieces that can be worn whatever trend is happening or not happening.
And lastly, any advice to people who want to get into the industry!
Stay true to your own unique vision no matter what.
Also one word to live by TENACITY!
Special thanks to Hayley & Lauri Smith