Gabrielle Stephens – Designer/Creative Director Collecting Pretty Boys
Interview: Kate Andrews
Feature image: Indemnify Ostrich cape
With These I Wed Japanese leather gloves
Withheld barb wire wristband (worn as neckpiece)
Thought of War distressed leather embellished bikini brief set (top shown)
Gabrielle Stephens has worked with some extraordinary designers including Bettina Liano and Scanlan and Theodore before branching out to form her own clothing label COLLECTING PRETTY BOYS.
I have had the privilege to work with her and the design team on a number of shoots and I have been amazed by the work ethic and exquisite clothing range.
Collecting Pretty Boys offers by far some of the most creative and unique collections available. They don’t conform to trends yet have an eye for texture, shape and feel. There is a dark, rock n roll element to most garments but this is tempered by some delicate, ethereal dresses and fabrics balancing the masculine edginess with a delicate femininity.
Describe what you do:
I own, design and creatively direct a fashion label called Collecting Pretty Boys. At Collecting Pretty Boys we style fashion shoots, film and produce short fashion films, work with musicians on their branding and music video development and offer design, pattern work and consultancy to other fashion labels We love working on collaborations with other talented creative/artists.
What were you creating/doing prior to CPB?
Before starting the Collecting Pretty Boys brand I was associated with and at the design helm/ creative director for various Aussie fashion houses including Easton Pearson, Scanlan and Theodore, Satch, Kookai, Bettina Liano and Quiksilver.
Why the name Collecting Pretty Boys?
CPB was named after a piece of artwork one of my incredibly talented designers did for me while I was at Quiksilver. Jillian Shannon, who now has her own shoe collection, bleached out and hand painted 3 dark and mysterious skulls on a t.shirt that we called Collecting Pretty Boys. The name is also to emphasize the rawness of feminine beauty and inner strength, to feel both beautiful in a piece from Collecting Pretty Boys and collect them (pretty boys) along the way.
Check out some of Jill’s work here.
How would you describe your work?
Dark, light, delicate, strong, ageless, timeless and not trend specific.
What inspires a collection?
So many things can inspire a collection. It can be because of an experience I’ve had, a question that jumps into my head, a piece of artwork that I’ve seen, a movie or even a piece of music.
You mix fabric textures a lot in your work? Why is this?
I really love beautiful fabrics and combining them with an array of textures fascinates me, I feel it brings a depth to a collection and makes it far more interesting.
Who is the designer or artist that has influenced your work the most?
Hhhhmmmmmm…….. I don’t think that it’s really been one designer or artist that has influenced my work. I love the work of the amazing Alexander Mc Queen because he always chose to not conform to anyone else’s ideas of fashion, and Gareth Pugh because he has always kept being an artist through his fashion. Maria Sita, head designer at Scanlan and Theodore encouraged me to push my knowledge and creativity, Rob Cromb, the owner of Kookai gave me the creative freedom to embrace the brands demographic and to push its boundaries to where it had never gone before.
Pressure, creativity and having a million things to do.
What is the hardest thing about being a designer?
I think the hardest thing about being a designer and owning your own label is not giving up, and not letting go of your core believes, it’s a tough industry.
How do you overcome this?
Sometime I need to just take time out, sit back and reassess everything and find and connect to the core passion that drives me. I also have people around me that believe in me and the path that I’m on (which really helps).
What is the best thing?
Allowing your creativity to flow when it hits, seeing people in your creations and hearing people like your stuff.
Diversifying my creativity into so many areas and launching Collecting Pretty boys last year at MBFWA
I think fashion is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, there’s often lowlights but the worst would have been when I lost my mother and then 8 months later my brother passed away suddenly. I was in a dark place and lost all sight of my creativity and passion, it was awful.
Do you think designers should have a specific style?
If a designer doesn’t have a specific style then how can you tell them apart?
What is your strength and what is your weakness in business?
One of my strength in business would have to be my creative overall vision for the brand and my greatest weakness would be trying to find balance of working and having time out.
Finish these sentences:
Creativity is… a gift
Dressing men… is different in Australia that overseas, they are much more willing to experiment than most of the men here.
Dressing women… is great when you can bring their personality to the surface and make them feel confident and beautiful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Just recently a beautiful fashion photographer friend of mine told me to step back and to ‘stop and smell the roses’ and just let go for a moment. An old cliché but one his father used to tell him.
Check out Nicks work ……. http://www.nickkidmanphotography.com
What is your end goal for CPB?
To own our own Collecting Pretty Boys concept stores.
What was your impression of the world when you were growing up?
I had a fairly dark impression of the world when I was growing up. My mother suffered from chronic bouts of schizophrenia and manic depression which greatly affected just about everything in our lives. On a positive note, she was incredibly creative. I sort of believe that she was a true eccentric, except she never learnt how to control it.
Has the way you view the world changed?
I believe that everyone is affected by their childhood and growing up, our experiences mold us into who we are. We also have the option to change how we view those experiences and to embrace what we’ve learnt to help others.
Clean, dark and comfortable.
Where would you like to live most in the world?
My perfect living experience would be 5 months in Melbourne, 3 months in Queensland and the other 4 months overseas.
If the world was to end tomorrow what would you do?
Have a beautiful dinner with the people I truly love and tell them how much they mean to me.
What advice would you offer emerging designers?
Go into the industry with your eyes open, keep your dreams true to who you are and never lose your passion.
Places to check out some of CPB work: