Bul designer Virginia Martin took some time out at her Curtin House store (and studio) to show us her favourite pieces from her summer collection. The lady of the sea talks about her latest coastal inspiration and what she has learnt from overhearing customers.

Jean Kemshall-Bell: Can you tell me about the inspiration behind your summer collection?

Virginia Martin: Each season is inspired by a different coastline; this one is New Zealand. So I went there on a holiday and it’s sort of [based on] the colours I saw there – there’s lots of blues and navies and then a chartreuse colour that sort of came out in the mountains. There’s also a feather print, which is a reference to the native New Zealand birds.

JKB: What are some of the fabrics you have used?

VM: Mainly silks, linens and cotton.

JKB: What would you say is a feature that runs throughout your collections?

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VM: I guess the natural fibres. They are always natural and quite luxurious and comfortable and flowing. Also, the attention to detail in the inside finishing.

JKB: Why do you think having a retail space is important? What does it offer customers?

VM: In terms of having an in-store experience, you can really showcase your brand and what it’s all about and, you know, not just in the clothes but in the actual store itself and whatever else you put in the store. And then there is the amazing store assistants that we have – they can give them information about everything, the fabrics and how to style things… You see something on the internet on a model, but you’ve got no real idea what it looks like. Even the fabrics – you can’t really know what they’re like until you actually touch them.

JKB: As a designer, how is having a retail space helpful?

VM: It’s really helpful, especially having the studio and the store [at Curtin House], because you can hear all the feedback from customers. And I love getting all the feedback from staff. I get it from them every day, just on fits and what people are liking and what they’re not liking.

JKB: What is one of your favourite pieces from the collection?

VM: I’d say it’s an oversized shirtdress. It just looks cool, it’s really comfy and easy to throw on, and you can dress it up or wear it casually. It’s really versatile.

JKB: Are there any trends that you think will be in this coming season?

VM: I don’t think there is going to be as much colour – definitely a lot of black and white.

JKB: What are some of your favourite Melbourne stores?

VM: I love Incu and Alpha60.


This is part of our MSFW Designer Retail Series where we visit Melbourne designers at their retailers in the city in conjunction with City of Melbourne’s Melbourne Spring Fashion Week which runs from August 31 to September 8 2013.