Gail Sorronda shared all with Brisbane Weekender as she moved gracefully around her James Street studio, surrounded by an array of beautifully detailed and intricate garments.
We asked Sorronda questions about her first start in fashion to her favourite pieces, from her new range and her reactions seeing her own garments worn on fans and fashion lovers.
Was there a defining moment in your early career when you decided fashion design was right for you?
“While studying at uni, I did a fashion subject because it came up in my final year of Built Environment and I thought “I’ll give it a go”. I didn’t change my mind through it so I though it must be right. I didn’t like to sew but because I already had experience styling in the fashion industry, in some respects I just transitioned over.”
What has been the most stand-out moment in your career so far?
“I was the only Australian designer to become a finalist in the Vogue, Who is on Next? Competition (in Milan) – that was fun! Also just meeting designers and stylists that I’ve admired. I mean, meeting Carine Roitfeld (former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris) – she’s one of my big icons.”
“When I left Paris and got back to Brisbane, Dolce and Gabbana emailed me and I thought it was spam at first! It was actually them asking me to put together my own order for their concept store promoting young designers. I got three full seasons with them and they told me it was the highest selling overall. Stuff like that is pretty unreal in a way.”
Tell us about your new range, Mermaids Exist.
“We were able to collaborate with Disney and got access to some of their prints. Also I really like Ernest Haeckel’s single cell window illustrations and the idea of macrocosm and microcosms. So I combined that with pop culture and a microscopic style. The myth of the mermaid plays a large part as well- its very foreboding and very beautiful, and of course, oceanic themes.”
What is your favourite piece from your latest collection?
“I really like the Sea Witch jacket. I always think it’s like the mermaid caught in the net. It’s an ode to dark Disney characters like Ursula the octopus.”
Do you have a favourite fabric you like to work with?
“I like working with natural fibres generally. I’m drawn to natural elements. I like textural contrast and transparency and I of course, I love my silks.”
Tell us about a day in the life of Gail Sorronda?
“Well I work from home in my studio but I’m here working in store around two to three days a week. I still get really excited when I see people wearing my garments and I like to see how they are worn. It’s the same garment but people make it their own.”
Can you give us any insight into what we can expect next from your label?
“Yes, I have an idea of the direction that I am going to go with for my next range. We always work a season ahead. I’m always inspired by dark and the light and masculine and feminine as well as equal and opposite reaction. Nature and the art forms in nature inspire me as well.”
How do you feel about it all now, it must feel so unreal?
“I feel grounded and right now I feel like I’m consolidating from the last part of the journey and regrouping. It’s nice to reflect on those kinds of things and take it to move forward. Some people see fashion as being temporary but I see the longevity in it and I can see the lifestyle. Just staying focussed on my work and developing my art form is the most important thing to me. I just want to keep getting better and better. I feel like it’s going to be a lifelong endeavour.”
After spending the morning with Sorronda, it is clear to see how oceanic elements have inspired her new range Mermaids Exist in a subtle and tongue-in-cheek fashion.
However the range is not all whimsical fantasy, it also embraces an enigmatic and quirky vibe that is signature to her label and also rather remnant of Gail herself.
Words by Kristen Brown
Photographs by Erika Myer
Details: Gail Sorronda Boutique: 19 James Street, Fortitude Valley Brisbane, QLD | 07 3252 5917| Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday 10:00am to 3:00pm