Most people who wore uniforms at school hated them – mostly because they were unflattering, unfashionable and that very basic kind of ugly that only school uniforms can be. But if your uniforms were custom designed by Melody Hasse and Liza Rowe – the talents behind not only fashion label Marvin, but production company Paper Doll – then you wouldn't have had to endure the discomfort of wearing an ill-fitting, badly designed uniform whose silhouette and hideous colour palette hadn't changed since the school opened, decades ago. But uniforms need not be the unattractive equaliser that they were supposed to have been in high school.
Sydney's casino and entertainment centre, The Star, is one place to have instated a different approach to creating uniforms for its various staff. The Star approached Hasse and Rowe earlier this year to design and manufacture uniforms for several of their venues, including the recently opened Black by ezard as well as the Cherry Bar, Sokyo Bar & Restaurant and The Darling.
The duo were asked to work to very specific briefs, working closely with the various teams at each venue to ensure the best possible outcomes for the individual businesses. "It is a very collaborative process,” says Hasse. “We start by extracting as much information from them as possible in regards to their needs, purposes and visions. Once we have confirmation that we are on the right path we will start designing."
Beyond each establishment’s aesthetic requirements, there are the equally important practical elements to consider when coming up with a uniform. "Uniforms have to suit a large variety of people – all different ages and sizes,” offers Rowe. “Plus they get worn and washed regularly and must be able to withstand heavy duty cleaning. They must also be clever in design in that they are modern but don't date quickly. All this while still providing the brand with something new and unique.”
The classic designer's conundrum: form as well as function. It’s a challenge the duo originally learned to tackle at East Sydney TAFE, Australia's own hotbed of design talent. It’s where Hasse and Rowe met, after Rowe asked Hasse to model for one of her projects, "though I was reluctant at first because she looked and dressed like a skateboarding, grungy boy – all that has certainly changed over the years!” laughs Rowe.
Some time after graduation, catching up over glass after glass of sangria, the idea of joining forces as a design team became more and more serious. Soon enough, fashion label Marvin was born.
Together, via Paper Doll (which started at the end of 2010), these two have created uniforms that will change your preconceived – and perhaps previously experienced – notions of the homogenous form of clothing. "We love what we achieved for the Black by ezard restaurant at The Star, in particular the raw apron leather hides with copper metal studs; this piece would have made a great photo shoot on an industrial, masculine model,” says Hasse.
“We also love the crystal shard print we used in the women’s poolside range for The Darling Hotel. It was so on-trend in colours (tangerine, citrine and lapis blue) and worked perfectly next to the cool fresh colour of the pool."
But if there is one uniform they'd love to design, it'd possibly be one of the most highly visible uniforms in the game – the next Olympic uniform. "It would be a way of representing Australia and a chance to show the world that we can be fashionable after all!"