Melbourne-based textile designer Cassie Byrnes' first role in the fashion industry was at local label Kuwaii, known for its impeccable contruction and feminine silhouettes. It was Kuwaii founder and designer Kristy Barber who inspired Byrnes to start Variety Hour, a print-driven, joyful label for sizes eight to 18.
After Kuwaii, Byrnes spent time at US-based bohemian fashion and homewares label Anthropologie, where her prints were released on a range of ceramics and bedding.
“I never really set out to work in fashion, but I really love seeing the happiness people get [from my] prints,” she says. “And I enjoy the creative freedom.”
Back in Australia, Byrnes launched Variety Hour online. Soon after, she hosted stalls at Finders Keepers and The Big Design Market before running a two-week long pop-up on Johnston Street, Collingwood, earlier this year.
“Working solo on Variety Hour from home I thought it was probably time get out of the house,” Byrnes says. “It felt like it was the right time to push myself, and use it as a chance to get to know my customers in person.”
Now, Variety Hour is popping up again, this time on Gertrude Street – and for six months.
The boutique space is regularly home to pop-ups, but isn’t usually transformed the way it has been for Variety Hour. The interior is decorated with a huge, striking print that echos the clothing range’s bold, bright designs. Byrnes begins each design by painting artworks. She then digitally distorts each piece, crafting, re-scaling and shaping it before transferring it to fabric.
The current collection, Honeymoon, includes jumpsuits, dresses, tailored shirts and wide-leg pants, as well as more casual T-shirts and tanks.
“My clothes are for everybody,” Byrnes says. “To me it’s all about the customer and making them feel fabulous … I’m always conscious of providing different cuts to suit different body shapes.”
The range is designed and produced in Melbourne – Byrnes' seamstress is in Yarraville – and is largely made using silk, linen and cotton.
“I am a bit obsessed with fabric and fibres,” Byrnes says. “So [I] spend many months sampling different base cloths and finding each print the best fabric possible.”
Variety Hour Gertrude Street will be open until December this year.
155 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Mon to Sat 11am–6pm