By Mark Eggleton
The favourite son of South Australian fashion Paul Vasileff was excited about the “magic” of the hometown debut of his 2016 Paolo Sebastian Nightingale autumn/winter collection at the Adelaide Fashion Festival.
“The show represents a way for me to show the public 100 per cent where my inspiration comes from. You’ll be in that setting for the clothes, and everything – the room, the lighting, everything matches and you can feel that mood,” he says.
“There’s definitely a lot of theatrics and staging that goes into it.”
The design wunderkind, who prides himself on the stunning success of the elusive mix of strength, sexiness and fragility which underlie the Paolo Sebastian woman, was just 16 when he launched his first label – and the debut of his new collection closed the Festival in Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Square on Sunday October 25 2015.
“This year’s Festival was really amazing with the kind of designers that are involved. It just gets better and better every year,” he says.
He said the festival played a vital role in giving young up-and-coming designers a voice and a platform to showcase their work.
“It’s a chance they would not have otherwise had; putting on a fashion show is expensive, it’s not something that you can always do and you know if you are just starting out you don’t have those connections or that kind of publicity behind it; so being a part of a festival like the Adelaide Fashion Festival gives you that chance as young designers, to put your work out there. It might get seen a bit more by different and a broader audience.”
He said Adelaide was fortunate to be the home of Australian Fashion Labels and its stable of brands such as Cameo (C/MEO Collective), Finders Keepers and TY-LR.
“These are hugely successful international brands and will be showing in the festival as well.
“We also have local designers like casper&pearl.”
Vasileff knows what it’s like to start out from recent experience, and spoke about his amazing career, from his beginnings playing with his dressmaker Nonna’s offcuts as a three-year old, to dressing Giuliana Rancic for the Oscars and his 2015 show which he says is the first one he created which completely represents his own vision and inspiration.
Where does his inspiration come from?
“It’s really, whatever strikes me at the time. It’s strange how it happens with each collection, every six months, because you think: ‘Oh how am I going to come up with something for the next collection, you know, what are we going to do’ but it always kind of hits you at the right time.
“I draw my inspiration from an Old World, ethereal feeling, quite romantic. I have the Paolo Sebastian woman in mind, so, someone who is quite elegant, but strong as well and quite fragile at the same time, so there’s that mix.”
He attributes his success to his achieving of a unique balance.
“It’s a balance of fragility but also sexiness. There is always the old Hollywood feel, that old world romance to the aesthetic of the clothes.”
“For me, growing up, watching all those old films, no matter, you can’t shake it, and every time I see Rome, that’s how I see Rome, in black and white.
“Everyone sees things in a different light, and I guess I look at these European cities through rose-coloured glasses. I will walk around Paris playing La vie en rose and I’m like I’m in an old Hollywood movie and I love that.”
In between engagements he had some downtime in his hometown.
“Now Adelaide’s really exciting as well because the bar scene and night time scene are really taking off.
Leigh Street and Peel Street are really coming alive with some great small bars like Clever Little Tailor, BarBushka and Gondola Gondola. And there are some really cool, alternative places as well like Bank Street Social.
“Elsewhere there are some great dessert bars popping up. So you can go out for dessert and then go out for a drink.
Interestingly, in line with some of the great male names of fashion from a different generation such as Yves Saint-Laurent or Tom Ford, during his time at Gucci, Vasileff’s own sense of style is quite conservative.
“I guess to some people, I dress very traditionally – very clean,’’ he says.
“But the way I look at menswear is very different, I guess, to the way I look at womenswear. I like womenswear to be very soft and feminine but then I like menswear (the way I dress) to be very tailored and very masculine.