The Style Glossy: Dressing Room
Arabella Ramsay: Style Inspiration
By Felicity Loughrey for The Style Glossy“It’s been a big year,” says Melbourne-based fashion designer Arabella Ramsay. “I got married on New Year’s Eve out at the farm [her parent’s homestead near Mount Macedon in Kyneton, Victoria]. Then, we went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. I’m now having a baby. It’s just been one thing after the next.”
And then there’s her eponymous fashion line. Since launching in 2003, Ramsay has garnered a cult following for her Australian sensibility. Each season, Ramsay creates an exclusive seasonal print. This summer’s Alice collection features feral animal illustrations (think naive sketches of sparrows, mice and cane toads) by her artist dad, Dougal Ramsay, printed on scoop-neck T-shirts and form-fitting dresses, as well as three-quarter-length skirts and mini dresses emblazoned with vibrant Kangaroo Paw prints.
The Alice collection was prompted by a trip to the Kimberley region in Western Australia. “We went up there for three weeks. I get inspired by the places I go to, especially in Australia. It blows you away up there -- the colours and everything. You don’t see anyone for days, and you’re on a boat and all you see are these beautiful rocks.”
Next summer’s collection, called Sunnyland (in stores at the end of July), was sparked by her honeymoon to Hawaii and Palm Springs, Calif. She promises a look inspired by “the desert, burnt orange, sandy colours and minimalism.”
She is also set to open a new Melbourne boutique on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, which completes a trio of stores in High Street, Armadale and Flinders Lane in the city. “I would like to open a store overseas,” Ramsay has previously said. “I’d love to do something in Paris. I always thought it would be good to do an Australian thing over there.” (Ramsay lived in Paris for two years in her 20s. Her stores, with their wooden floors and black-lacquered lamps, have a defined French accent.)
In addition to selling her own line in her Melbourne boutiques, Ramsay also sources vintage fashion and fabrics from all over country Victoria and beyond. Once a year, she travels to the What Goes Around Comes Around warehouse in the wilds of New Jersey, USA, to specially select items. “I spend the day rummaging,” she says. On her last trip, she stockpiled frayed American quilts to cut up and make into new pieces.
Ramsay recently scored a U.S. agent, and her designs are now sold in two New York shopfronts, two Los Angeles stores and three U.S.-based online outlets.
As for the girl who wears Arabella Ramsay, the designer imagines her customer on both sides of the Pacific as someone equally at-home in the city or the country. “I like girls who are a bit dorky, who are willing to take a risk,” she told Frankie magazine. “I love the idea of people wearing this to festivals and taking the clothing into other areas. Wear them with your gumboots!”
Felicity Loughrey is the managing editor of The Style Glossy. She writes for Vogue Australia, Vogue Living and GQ, among others.
All images from Arabella Ramsay