Having recently revealed her new S/S12/13 collection, As Bad As I'm Guana Be, Sydney’s most exciting new designer Emma Mulholland is currently making a splash in the fashion world with her eye-catching tropical palette, surf-inspired prints and a love for all things iguana.
Can you tell us a bit about the inspirations and themes behind As Bad As I'm Guana Be?
It was a basketball game set in the desert; the Cold-Blooded Chillers (iguanas) versus the Gila Monsters. The prints are inspired by the desert and Mexico, but the sporty shapes and fabrics come from ‘90s basketball.
What influenced the decision to shoot the film for the collection on a basketball court?
I really love varsity scenes from movies like American Beauty and Bring It On – basketball courts are so cool with the wax floors and hoops, so I just wanted to get involved.
Where did your affinity with iguanas come from?
I think iguanas are quite weird and alien, and, like, they have beautiful colours. I also loved Selma's pet iguana Jub Jub in The Simpsons.
It feels like you have a genuinely fun approach to designing – do you think that’s a factor that’s often missing in the fashion world?
I think there is a place for a lot of different types of design. Some people might just need to have a bit more of an open mind; black and tailored doesn't always equal style.
As an emerging new designer, what’s been the most challenging aspect of your career to date?
Keeping up the momentum. It's a lot of work starting a business.
Your designs are refreshingly different to a lot of current styles out there at the moment. Would you say that you consciously try to and break away from mainstream trends?
I still like to look at trends in regard to shapes and styles, but I guess I try to be as original as possible with embellishment and colour combinations.
You've created a few men’s pieces in both your A/W12 and S/S1213 collections. Would you ever want to break more into menswear?
Yes! I've had a lot of guys trying to squeeze into women's sized jeans, so I thought it was only fair to do some styles for the boys. It's gone well, so I would love to continue doing it.
I saw that Kanye is a fan of your work... who else would you like to see wearing it?
MIA and Azaelia Banks.
So what kind of girl do you have in mind when you put your designs together?
Someone original, who does their own thing. I have a lot of friends with amazing individual styles that inspire me.
As a designer, what’s the fashion scene like in your native Australia? It’s not something that’s ever talked about much in the UK.
Australian style is varied, but we have some amazing things going on at the moment. Because of the climate, it can be quite casual, but people generally style things up in a cool way. Surf culture in Australia had an amazing aesthetic and brand power in the ‘80s and ‘90s – it's not as much like that now though, as it’s a bit more trend and international-based.
And what's prompted your recent move to Bali?
I'll be back and forth from Aus for the next year as I'll be doing some production over here in Bali, as well as some freelance design work for another label. It's nice to get the best of both worlds.
Is it true that you’re planning on launching a line for retail?
No; I'll only be continuing with the one line at this stage. However, my recent collection is all made for retail.
With collection names like Tropical Rebel and As Bad As I’m Guana Be, it feels like you’re trying to get a kind of bad-girl kind of image across... is that the case?
No, not really! I didn't even make the connection, but I guess I'm trying to rebel against a few fashionistas who think there is only one way to be fashionable.
What have you got planned for your next collection – and for the Emma Mulholland label in the future?
I'm just in the planning stages of my next collection, but am just going to keep pushing along and hopefully keep making clothes and accessories that people enjoy and want to buy!
You can see more of Emma's designs (and buy them) at emmamulholland.com.