KACEY ON POINT The 2017 VAMFF National Designer Award winner.
VAMFF National Designer Award winner KACEY/DEVLIN is the local label to watch this year. Here, its designer talks femininity, forgoing a runway show and her obsession with kilts. By GRACE O’NEILL
“Each season we look at defining the female body in a way that exposes a new part that is as sensual as it is strong.”
KACEY DEVLIN talks like a true creative. By which I mean she speaks in images and feelings instead of facts and figures, and a question rarely has a simple answer. For example, when I ask the designer what inspired her to start her label, Kacey/devlin, three years ago, she speaks for five minutes about empowering modern women and “redefining the female form” through clothes. It all starts to border on the philosophical, but then she catches you off-guard with some real talk about the brand’s five-year plan or the importance of a consumer-facing business model.
That mix is what caught the eye of the judging panel at this year’svamff National Designer Award (NDA), presented by David Jones, in which Devlin took out the coveted top prize.among her prize pool was $15,000 cash, lookbook styling by BAZAAR and a runway show atvirgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.twenty-eight-year-old Devlin joins the ranks of the NDA’S impressive alumni,including Dion Lee,romancewas Born and Toni Maticevski.“i was completely overwhelmed,” she admits.
It was actually the second time Devlin applied for the award, having lost out to Sydney label macgraw in 2016. Devlin says, “We had a lot to prove in terms of what we had done in the last 12 months. It took time to really solidify that relationship between the creative and the business, and this year was the time for the judges to see we had worked to resolve the two.”
In terms of aesthetics, Devlin’s line couldn’t be further from her NDA predecessors. Where macgraw tends towards lace, bright colour and pattern, Kacey/devlin is a lesson in deconstructed minimalism.the palette is mostly navys, blacks, whites and greys, and the draped designs lean on unexpected cut-outs. Wearability is the focus, with Devlin using locally sourced fibres, luxury silk and wool blends, textured knits and leather. It’s understated, but there’s something very feminine about it.“we’re trying to develop a contemporary uniform for the modern-day woman who wants to feel confident and secure but also have that element of redefined sexuality,” Devlin says. “Each season we look at defining the female body in a way that exposes a new part that is as sensual as it is strong. Since we started it’s been a focus on the back and the shoulder blades, but now we’re moving on and looking at what that next [body] part might be.”
Devlin made the unexpected decision to forgo a runway show at Mercedesbenz Fashion Week Australia this month. “It’s primarily a brand strategy decision,” she explains. “While we’re still growing, it’s about building relationships with buyers and activating as a brand that is consumer-focused.” Instead, she’ll show resort 2018 showroom-style at Coma Gallery in Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay.
As for a sneak peek?“kilts! I became obsessed with them while I was designing,” she says. Her modern take translates to skirts with deconstructed pleating and pieces that drape across the body using traditional wrapping and tying methods. Unlikely? Sure. But if anyone’s up to the task of making kilts cool in 2017, it’s her.
Kacey/devlin S/S 2017 (and below right). Right: the designer.