It was the rugged beauty of Puglia, Italy, that drove Sydney’s Alexandra Heard and Heleena Trahanas to found fashion-and-lifestyle label Alex and Trahanas, which specialises in breezy linen and one-of-a-kind ceramics. The friends and designers use premium garza linen from one of the oldest mills in Italy for the label’s summer dresses, and artisans in Puglia handcraft vases, and dinner and aperitivo plates. The designs are then manufactured in Australia.
This year the duo has added gold and silver jewellery to their Mediterranean-inspired label. The idea came from time spent in the Apulia region, an area in the heel of Italy’s “boot” known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and close to 60 million olive trees.
“It was their natural beauty and form that inspired the design of our olive-leaf earrings and bangle,” says Trahanas. The organic, curved olive-leaf form is reflected in the way the drop earrings hang from the ear and in the way the bangle wraps gently around the wrist.
And after working with Dinosaur Designs’ co-founder and creative director Louise Olsen for more than six years in her role as PR and marketing manager, Trahanas asked her to help co-design the line.
“[Olsen] is inspired by nature and art, which was a perfect fit for the jewellery we had dreamed of,” says Heard, noting that Dinosaur Designs’ signature sculptural and contemporary aesthetic complements Alex and Trahanas’s classic silhouettes.
How did the creative process work between the trio? First Heard and Trahanas collected and presented Olsen with a range of photos of the ancient olive trees, Mediterranean coastline and vine-laden terraces before they all got to work formulating the designs.
The Louise Olsen x Alex and Trahanas Olive Leaf collection consists of four pieces, available in high-polished brass or silver plate, designed to be worn with and to enhance the label’s linen dresses. “Sun-drenched, golden and silver tones reminded us of a perfect summer’s day in the Mediterranean,” says Heard.
The collection lookbook was photographed in a white-stone farmhouse, Masseria Moroseta, by Florence-based photographer Marina Denisova.
The pair envisages women wearing the collection over a long, rolling summer lunch, dressing effortlessly in Alex and Trahanas’s classic Italian linen garments – “Always with a delicious glass of wine in hand,” says Trahanas.