It’s fitting that I’m writing about Ingrid Verner’s new collection, Eat Cake, from Paris. When I met with the Melbourne designer around the corner from her inner city Melbourne studio, I was about to visit the city of lights for the first time. We talked about the concept behind Eat Cake, which juxtaposes Parisian and Australian cultures.
“With this collection, I thought about glamour and couture, and beautiful silhouettes, and I thought about incorporating this into my lifestyle, which is wearing a robe on the weekend and trying not to get out of my pyjamas,” she says. “I wanted to use these things together – taking easy, soft, everyday pieces and giving them a glamorous presence.”
Verner believes there is a way to further embrace fashion in Australia that is more appropriate to our casual culture, without sacrificing style.
“We all have this very glamorous idea of Paris, but I think Parisians think of our lifestyle in terms of its connectedness to nature and space, and they envy us a little bit, too. In terms of fashion, Paris is the Mecca, but I think to succeed there we need to serve them our real identity and not buy into imitating theirs.”
Eat Cake has a luxurious aesthetic, with simple lines, high-quality fabric and innovative shapes. It has Verner’s distinctive look, but is fresh and surprising, too. “I really went to town, tongue-in-cheek, with the idea of this glamorous hotel and the travelling experience,” she says. “I wanted to give it a resort feeling and there are references to hotel robes and towels, and how a towel might wrap after a shower.” There are puffed, bell sleeves, wasp waists, and wide-legged pants. The colour palette is blues, oranges, whites and blacks. Prints echo traditional French bistro checks and Gallic stripes.
Every decision behind Verner’s creative process is cleverly considered. “The fashion industry is very competitive and I think that when people can associate ideas with your brand on a level beyond purchasing clothes, then that’s a good thing,” she says. This consolidates Verner as an innovative Australian label, one worthy of an international stage.
Verner is passionate about honouring the creative energy that inspires her designs, which has always been what makes the clothing stand out. “I want the label to stay niche – I don’t want to make thousands of units and ship them all over the world. I want to find my own position in the world and to maintain the small size of the business,” she says.
Everything about Verner is appealing. She has a tousled bob and rosy cheeks, and is dressed in a colourful mohair scarf, cropped leather pants and white trainers. I would notice her on the streets of Paris, not because she’s emulating French chic but precisely because it’s obvious she’s dressing for herself. Verner is embracing her Australian roots and combining them with the many cultural influences she’s obviously gathered over years spent in the fashion industry and observing style from around the world.
“I see our style as Australians as lazy – I think we have a slacker mentality and I like to play with that in terms of high and low. I see street wear as something uniquely Australian because that’s what we do. We don’t go to the opera, we go to the pub!”