Since launching their eponymous label in April 2012, Beth and Tessa MacGraw have had celebrities and social media influences fall in love with their unique hand drawn prints and beautiful fabrications in wearable silhouettes. The Australian label is available at a dozen stockists, including Singapore-based Lula Rock and recently launched at Farfetch.
Earlier this year, macgraw received the Tiffany & Co. National Designer Award and won the regional final of the prestigous International Woolmark Prize 2016/17, where they will be representing Australia and New Zealand at the finals in Paris next year.
The sister duo share with BAZAAR their dreams, inspirations and advice for aspiring designers.
How did the idea to launch a fashion label come about?
It’s something we’ve talked about since we were kids. We always believed we would one day start a label, it was just a matter of when. When we were kids we would pretend our Barbie dolls were our models and host shows complete with hand sewn clothing, hair, and makeup. We’ve always appreciated beautiful clothes. Our mum made all of our clothes growing up, she used to hand smock and embroider too. She still helps us with hand sewing before a show.
Who is the macgraw woman?
Our woman is international, empowered and irreverent. She responds to our rebellious form of femininity because she’s not perfect. She doesn’t take herself too seriously. Quality is important so she appreciates that the large majority of our clothes are made in Sydney, with quality and care in mind.
Our prints are all hand drawn in-house by Tessa and therefore will always be unique to us.
How has growing up in Sydney influenced your design aesthetic?
We grew up next to a national park so nature was very much a part of our youth. We feel very lucky to have grown up here and are definitely inspired by the beautiful surroundings, botany, vibrant colours, and wide open spaces. It is reflected in our simple silhouettes – there is definitely an ease to Australian design.
Your favourite pieces from the latest collection?
The most worn piece would be the Eventing Blazer and the most special piece would be the Molasses dress in Sequin Horse.
You’ve won several awards in recent years, how has that helped the brand?
We started entering awards to help raise our profile in Australia but and it has been a far more beneficial experience then we ever imagined. In addition to the obvious benefits of the prize money and the exposure for our label, each award required us to take a close look at our business and in the process we found ourselves improving areas that were being neglected, an example is negotiating better trading terms. The experience has helped us to refine and articulate our aesthetic, probably the most important thing to do as a new label.
What celebrities would you love to see in macgraw?
We’ve had some pretty awesome women wear macgraw, our favourites so far would be Julianne Moore, Coco Rocha, Banks and Lorde. We are most excited when empowered women chose to wear the brand. We’d love to dress Chloe Grace Moretz and Solange.
What are the top three things aspiring designers should look out for?
· Identify your unique signature
· Don’t over-extend financially
· Surround yourself with trusted people and treat your suppliers well
What exciting projects are you working on now that we can look forward to?
Firstly, we will be showing in Paris for the first time in October, as part of the Australian Fashion Chamber Showroom. We are really looking forward to showing our Spring/Summer collection while soaking up the magical city. We are already feeling inspired and energised. Secondly, we have started designing our six look Woolmark Collection to be presented to the International Woolmark Prize in Paris in January. It’s been a great journey and we can’t wait to see it all come together.
By Debby Kwong