Magdalena Velevska’s label might only be two years old, but it was many more in the making. The Sydney-based designer blew fashion folk away with her polished show at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in May. Having lurked behind the scenes for a number of years, working for established local brands like Nicola Finetti and Lisa Ho, Velevska is putting her experience to use in her own internationally-focused collection.
Arriving in Australia from Macedonia at the age of 11, Velevska’s interest in fashion was piqued in a year 10 careers class, leading to a fortuitous stint of work experience at Zimmermann in 1996, right in midst of the first ever Mercedes Australian Fashion Week in Sydney. Suffice to say, the young Velevska was able to experience the chaos and excitement of the runway firsthand.
After school, she studied Fashion and Textiles at the University of Technology, Sydney before heading out into the workforce. In the following years, Velevska proceeded to work for some of Australia’s most respected labels, spending a few weeks at Akira, five years at Nicola Finetti and a year at Lisa Ho as senior head designer.
In 2009, it seemed the time was ripe to start her own venture. “It was always my ambition to have my own label,” Velevska says. “I got to the point where I felt I’d gained all the practical and design experience needed.”
And so Magdalena Velevska the label was born, with a debut 2009 RAWF collection inspired by artist Jeffery Smart. In the two years since, the label has evolved to a size that gives the designer a previously unrealised freedom. “I love my first collection, however, we are now able to implement techniques and innovations we would not have been able to a few seasons ago. Our design process is much more involved, experimental and collaborative. We needed the time to build a team of people that enables the collection to achieve the aesthetic I visualise for it.”
While previous collections were impressive, spring/summer 2011–2012 is a revelation and has managed to appeal to critics and customers alike. While inspired by her mother’s crochet wedding dress bodice as well as Macedonian folk costumes, any overtly ethnic references are discarded in favour of modern, clean lines and sharp pleating. “As a starting point I took a traditional folk colour palette of red, orange, black and white,” Velevska explains, “and amplified this to a palette of fluoro pink, orange and tangerine, giving the collection a futuristic vibe.” Macramé and a digital prints are in the mix, but it’s the pleated dresses, with their mesh bodices and terry-towelling embroidery that steal the show.
According to Velevska, the collections are conceived via processes akin to decorating an interior. “We build it by starting with basics, then adding components, details and embellishments, giving the collection depth and interest.” Editing and styling are just as important, ensuring the show “has direction and is polished in every way possible.”
It is perhaps here that Velevska distinguishes herself from her contemporaries, as she considers the overall appearance crucial for her internationally-minded, culturally aware customer. “We needed to work this way, as the world is becoming increasingly smaller, and we need to stand and compete globally, as our customer expects that from us.” This mindset is coupled with a focus on new technologies and products. “I feel the industry is rapidly changing, mainly due to the availability of information and products online. Making sure you stay relevant through this new revolution is the key to success.”
Her international focus hasn’t meant Velevska has forgotten the locals. “The advantage of being in Australia, as opposed to the US or Europe, is that it is smaller,” she says, “though still very visible on a world stage.”
We have a feeling, however, that Magdalena Velevska would be visible just about anywhere.
Magdalena Velevska is stocked at Alice Euphemia, Lacquer and Myer.