Picture a day lazing on the banks of Lake Como, Italy. The sun is beating down on your bare legs, you’re surrounded by picturesque mountains and laughing locals. As you cruise down the lake you admire the jaw-dropping natural beauty and old, elegant villas. This is CLEONIE. This is VOLARE.
CLEONIE is the child of creative Kitty Scott, who naturally gravitated toward swimwear designing after years of working for labels such as Zimmerman, We Are Handsome and Seventh Wonderland. Kitty’s Bachelor of Fashion Design she obtained from RMIT paired with her creative flair create the perfect label.
I had a chat to the designer about all things fashion, sunny and VOLARE.
What inspired you to create CLEONIE?
I have always dreamt of a beach life and always loved swimwear, fashion and retro style clothing. After graduating from RMIT and working for other swimwear labels, there was no other choice than to chase the dream.
Your new collection is called ‘VOLARE’ which is Italian for flight. Why flight?
It’s a one word summary of the collection – really meaning to lose yourself and fly.
Your label has proved to be a great success, gaining significant media attention after it debuted at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia last month. What does a normal day in the office entail?
Every single day is a new chapter with new goals for us at CLEONIE. You could find me working in the studio, pattern making – cutting and sewing samples, designing pieces for the upcoming collection, in and out of meetings, running to and from our local manufacturers… it’s constantly changing.
Tell us about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. What was running through your mind before and during the Group SWIM show?
I was fairly chilled out, trying to take it all in one breath at a time. All the work had been done up to that point – it was time to just showcase the collection and sit back and hope it was received well. I had my little sister and best friend backstage with me, as well as the rest of my best friends and family watching from the runway. It made it all the more special to share that time with them.
I understand your recent trip to Italy is what inspired VOLARE, was there a defining moment that inspired you? A person? Print? Sound?
Yes, I was travelling through Italy with one of my best friends – we spent an incredible day at Lake Como and I fell in love with it. The music, the sounds, the locals, the smiles, the summer heat, the aperitifs, the landscape… I can still close my eyes and picture being there. It was just one of those really special days.
Tell us about your design studio. What’s currently spread across your desk?
The CLEONIE design studio is based in Redfern in Sydney – it’s a grungy little area with lots of new happenings from pocket bars, cafes and retro furniture stores… I love it there! My work space table changes every day. Looking around now though I have new designs, fabrics and testing trims for the new collection scattered across part of it, as well as a large roll of fabric which I will cut this afternoon for the Volare collection to hit stores in August.
What’s on the cards for the next line?
Our new season will be launched around August/September and will be a continuation of the current VOLARE collection. It will have some new cuts and prints – we want to continue telling the same story for this year.
I love that CLEONIE is 100% Australian. Why do you think it’s important to ensure you keep every aspect of your business Australian made?
Being 100% Australian made was a decision I chose long before launching CLEONIE. I believe we have highly skilled workers right here on our doorstep and they should be utilised before businesses consider moving manufacturing offshore. I would prefer to spend more money on high quality Australian made garments where the money remains in our nation, over sending it to a foreign country. Sadly, the industry is dying and soon there will barely be any businesses manufacturing garments here in Australia.
When an inspiration comes to you what do you do?
Depending on where I am or what time of day it is I always try to do a quick sketch, or a description. A lot of the time ideas pop into my head while I am going for a run or just about to fall asleep – if that happens I do the same and get that idea onto paper as soon as I can.
What began you on your journey into swimwear designing?
I love love love the beach and have always dreamed of being a mermaid (laughs). This is my way of being able to create beautiful swimwear pieces and accompany that with the wonderful beach culture our island nation is blessed to have.
Have you always been interested in a career in fashion?
Yes. Every since I was a little girl I loved more than anything to dress up and watch my mother and grandmother sew. From a young age I was surrounded by beautiful fabrics and the skills of the women in my family – I think venturing down this path was inevitable.
What are you interests outside of the CLEONIE world?
The beach would have to be my paradise, I spend as much time on the sand as I possibly can. I love to travel – road trips and camping would have to be a specialty. But there is nothing like getting on a plane and exploring another land for a time either.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the fashion industry?
Just get involved, whether it be an internship, a short course, a diploma or just going out there to learn how to sew – all of the skills that can be learnt come from the desire to achieve them.
Where do you see yourself and CLEONIE in the next 5 years?
CLEONIE will be more of a household name, it will be worn on beaches throughout the world. We will have remained Australian made and be known and respected for that decision.
Who’s the ideal CLEONIE girl?
Anyone can be a CLEONIE girl- she is someone who knows how to have fun, is carefree at heart and loves spending time by the waterside with those friends that matter most.
Where can us Melbournians shop your collections?
CLEONIE is available online at www.cleonie.com. Here at CLEONIE we ship nationally and worldwide, meaning we can have any item on your doorstep in Melbourne in just two days.
You can follow CLEONIE on Instagram @cleoniebeachwear.
Images by: Ashley Russell.