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Narelle Dore

The Antwerp-based designer experiments with crochet, macrame and knits for her annual womenswear collections

When you think of Perth, Joan of Arc, and Walter Van Beirendonck, it may seem an odd mixture. But all this makes sense when it comes to Narelle Dore, who just after finishing her studies in Fashion and Textiles in Australia, moved to Belgium to intern at Beirendonck and to study at the Antwerp Academy. Now with her own label set up and a blog project that features other designers and even chefs, she will be presenting her new collection and pieces in woollen macrame, especially made for Amsterdam Fashion Week, at the end of the month.

Dazed Digital: How old are you /where do you live?                                                    
Narelle Dore:
I am 32, I live in Antwerp.

DD: How you get involved in fashion?
Narelle Dore: My interest in wearing and looking at clothes came when I was a teenager and I started to make my own clothes. They were really bad and didn't fit properly because I couldn't sew or make patterns. This meant I then went on to specialise in Textiles in high school and my teacher encouraged me to study Fashion Design.

DD: Why womenswear?
Narelle Dore: Because women are so beautiful and will experiment with the way they look without thinking about it, therefore as a designer you are more free. In comparison to menswear, I think womenswear is more free as there are less rules. I love making dresses and while I would love to see all men wearing dresses I can't really see it happening. Menswear is something I am definitely interested in doing, but one step at time.

DD: How has starting your own label in particular been?
Narelle Dore: It's a slow start, due to financial constraints and lack of experience, I guess like all starting labels. My timing doesn't really fit into the usual fashion calender (which I blame on being a Taurus as we have a particular relationship with time) and rather than fighting my own natural rhythm and bank account I have decided to go with it.

Of course, I realise there will come a point where I can't frolic in my own dream land of time and will have to compromise to make the label grow, but when the time is right it will happen. I also experimented and made a lot of mistakes in order to find the correct direction to take the label, which I am still doing in fact, but I am getting there. Slowly.

DD: How does that translate in your S/S12 collection?
Narelle Dore: It is an annual collection, and I have started to concentrate on making handmade yarn pieces, that specialise in macrame, crochet and knit. These dresses in particular took around 60 hours to make. I guess you could say I am moving more into an artisanal approach. I like pieces that take time to construct, and reflect it in its craftsmanship. I also work on projects beside the collections which explain the mood where the dresses are born from. This year I worked on a salt crystal landscape where I grew salt crystals over an eight-day period for the 'Get in the Haze' exhibition in Vienna.

DD: What materials do you find the most interesting to work with?
Narelle Dore: The yarn techniques I use stays quite constant and the materials are changing with each collection. Right now I am working on wool pieces, and later I would love to work with materials like raffia and leather for future projects. So I am not set in materials yet, I still love to explore how the yarn techniques look with all these different materials.

DD: How would you describe your aesthetic?
Narelle Dore: Feminine, colourful, strong, earthy.

DD: Who would be your ideal icon to wear your clothes?
Narelle Dore:
Joan of Arc, but yeah she is dead.

DD: Who is your favourite designer and why?
Narelle Dore: It changes all the time. Right now it is the wonderful Azzedine Alaia. What a man what a man!

DD: What are your plans for the future?
Narelle Dore: Continuing making dresses and pieces in an artisanal manner, that take time and are well crafted. And finding a way to make them reproduceable without losing my initial values and quality, so that the label can grow. And yes somewhere in between that drinking those pina coladas on that tropical island, but perhaps that's just going to be in my mind.

DD: Tell us about Coated Arms?
Narelle Dore:
Coated Arms is my blog project. I started it in 2011, at Chinese New Year. Every month plays host to a different colour, as the year goes so does the movement through the colour spectrum. It is a visual diary of films, images, art works, fashion etc all associated with the colour of the month. Different friends have also contributed different original pieces for it, like Lars Paschke and his crystal curtain, Joke Leonare and her collages.

I have also done different events beside the blog like eat red, drink red where Hadas Cnaani and I cooked a red feast in the ra kitchen, and for pink I collaborated with Andrea Cammorosano to make Pink Parts, an online magazine where I tested out my nail art skills. To end it this month, it is a whole month of rainbows. If you are in Antwerp in February there will be an event to say goodbye to the year of colour and hello to a new year. The blog will have all the details. The blog will continue in the year 2012 with a new year of...

Photography by Erika Rodin
Make-up by Sigrid Volders