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We’re in the midst of the great Australian resort renaissance: home-grown labels leading the world in beachy but refined holiday wear. GEORGINA SAFE charts our moment in the sun
The great Australian resort renaissance.
They say life’s a beach, but it’s not until I begin to make calls for a story about the Australian resort renaissance that I discover that for some women, it really is. Caftan designer Pippa Holt is having breakfast in Bali, where influencer Lindy Ramaellis (formerly Lindy Klim) is based for much of the year. Jeweller turned apparel designer Lucy Folk has just checked out of Positano’s boutique bolthole Le Sirenuse after hosting a poolside pop-up store for her eponymous brand. St. Agni designer Lara Fells is working beachside in Byron Bay. Heleena Trahanas and Alexandra Heard, co-founders of Alex and Trahanas, are about to board a plane to Puglia, and Valiánte founder Julz Valiant is en route from Sicily to Montauk. Call it the Down Under designer diaspora: there’s a raft of new resort brands helmed by our globetrotting influencers, entrepreneurs and designers who are devoting their lives to chasing the sun and crafting a new and distinctively Australian vision for vacay wear along the way.
Resort is a significant growth category for all international designers, given our increased global mobility, which has fuelled year-round demand for holiday destination wear. But it makes sense that Australians give particularly good resort, as we have a propensity for sandy feet and casual dressing with a relaxed attitude to boot.we love international travel — is there a nation whose people are willing to travel further and for longer? — and wherever there’s a beach or a bar, you’ll probably find us there. But thanks to brands such as Ramavoyage,by Rama-ellis,alex andtrahanas,and My General Store by Michelle Glew-ross (the wife of comedian and modernist architecture buff Tim Ross), that bag is now filled with a more restrained, refined and, ultimately, wearable wardrobe than the wild embellishments, lairy prints and skin-baring cuts of the past. Think pared-back silhouettes, a neutral palette, natural fibres and a more understated and timeless aesthetic than the glitzy days of yore. A poolside palette cleanser, if you like, resulting in trans-seasonal clothes that are equally at home on the streets of Sydney as they are worn sipping an Aperol spritz in Saint-tropez.
“Back in the day, resort dressing was about big prints and sequins, and I’m so not that,” Rama-ellis says.“i’m very low-key, so I wanted to create simple, elegant garments you can wear over your bikini in the daytime and then just put a belt on at night-time and be ready
to go out for dinner.” The model, influencer and mother of four launched her range of easy wraps and shirtdresses, button-through A-line skirts and wide-legged jumpsuits in December of last year out of a desire to bring the elegance of classic 1950s and ’60s women’s tailoring back into travel wear, and added a pinch of Bianca Jagger in Morocco in the ’70s for good measure. But while Jagger was mercifully free from social media scrutiny (probably for the best when cavorting with the Stones), the frequency with which people post now about their holidays on Instagram is helping to drive the shift to more sophisticated holiday dressing as espoused by Rama-ellis and the other designers in this story. “Ten years ago, if you went on holiday to a tropical island it was always cut-off denim shorts and a tank top, but now it’s just like high fashion because people are mapping out their outfits for social media,” she argues. “The very wealthy have been travelling to exotic places for a long time in a private way, but now we’re seeing those places on people’s Instagram and we’ll go,‘wow,that looks amazing, I want to go there,’ and then, of course, you need the holiday wardrobe for the trip.”
It was the idea of a chic capsule travel wardrobe that prompted Heard and Trahanas to launch Alex and Trahanas in 2017, with a debut collection of Italian linen dresses and Puglian handpainted ceramics titled Aperitivo Hour. It’s apt, then, that we meet in Sydney over Aperol spritzes and olives the night before the pair flies to Puglia for what they joke is their latest “tour de linen and spritz”, this time to shoot their new summer campaign in Ostuni, before travelling extensively throughout southern Italy, the region which inspired them to found their brand. “Travel opens up your mind and introduces you to new ways and ideas.it’s incredibly inspiring and refreshing, ”trahanas says.after meeting while working in magazines a decade ago, the avid travellers kept in touch via comments about each other’s holiday shots on Instagram, and upon reconnecting IRL decided to create a brand for women who love food, entertaining and travel as much as they do. “Pieces that can take you from day to night on high rotation, and loose-fitting, so you can enjoy a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine,” Heard says.
For the new collection Edition 02: Travel Essentials that means trousers inspired by Italian men’s tailoring, unisex shirts, oversized dresses and throws, all in aloe vera-infused Italian linen imported from renowned cloth manufacturer Solbiati, an arm of Loro Piana, which is owned by LVMH. In a concise palette of white and navy, the collection is designed to be just right for both sandy shores and city streets. “Our clothes aren’t exclusively for post-beach wear or a summer holiday, ”trahanas says.“they’re designed to be core, go-to
“The Australian designer is generally effortless and chic. Each brand is very different, but all carry this cool Aussie factor.” – Elizabeth von der Goltz
ALEX AND TRAHANAS Clockwise from this image: an Alex and Trahanas Edition 03: Summer look; Edition 03: Summer shirt with Louise Olsen x Alex and Trahanas earring; Edition 03: Summer shirt with pants from the Edition 02: Travel Essentials collection.
RAMA VOYAGE A look from Rama Voyage’s second season.
Looks from the Lucy Folk cruise 2019 collection, Ettore Blues (and left).