October 2024

In Full Bloom

Words: Adriana Giuffrida Images: Karla Spetic

Everyone knows that lIfe changes constantly, sometimes these changes are scary, and sometimes they can be extremely exciting. For Karla Spetic, her life changes involved a new country and new lifestyle which have helped shape her concepts. Her debut collection at RAFW 2008 caused everyone to look twice at the details within her garments and the care taken with each piece. This year, her collection Blossoms Will Run Away, saw the addition of beautiful nostalgic swimwear, stunning photo floral prints and scalloped tailored detailing – allowing you to be as feminine, structured, whimsical or powerful as you want to be. Adriana Giuffrida takes a moment to ask Karla how the changes in her life have influenced her design process, and proves that home is always where the heart is…

Adriana Giuffrida: You were born in Croatia, and came to Australia in 1993. How was this major transition for you? Do you find it took you some time to adjust, or did you feel at home straight away?

Karla Spetic: My whole life changed. Moving to a new country on the other side of the world at a young age was really hard, especially adjusting to the culture, food and climate. I was 11 years old and although it was hard I think it was a lot easier than it was for my mum. As a child you adapt quickly, we were refugees so we felt like total strangers but everyone around was so lovely and friendly it made it really easy for us to adjust to our new lifestyle.

AG: It must influence your design process so much, having experienced that change in lifestyle? Your collections feel quite personal and whimsical, do you feel you still connect to Dubrovnik through your designs?

KS: I miss everything about Dubrovnik especially my family and yes it’s a big part of my life and perhaps this bond somehow reflects in my work but I look for different influences every season and whatever draws my attention. So I wouldn’t say that I necessarily connect to my place of birth through my designs though.

AG: Have you been back there?

KS: Yes, I’ve been back only three times since I moved to Australia in 1993. I wish I could go every year but my work doesn’t allow for it.

AG: You launched your label in 2006 only 12 months after graduating. Was it daunting to start your own business? Did you work for anyone else in the meantime, or did you decide that you wanted to start your own label quite early on?

KS: After I graduated I did small ranges for a boutique I co-owned with other designers so I didn’t really launch my label until fashion week in 2008. I never worked for anybody in the industry, I always knew I wanted to do my own thing.

AG: I recently read that you and five other designers conceived The Graduate Store as an outlet for new designers in Sydney’s The Strand Arcade. How did this come about? Was your talent recognised while you were studying or did the store provide the platform you and other students needed to get your names out there?

KS: The head of The Fashion Design Studio, Nicholas Huxley, picked six fashion design studio graduates to set up a boutique showcasing ready-to-wear garments from their new collections. I was involved for a year before I decided to leave to focus on my own label and wholesale business. I launched my debut collection at RAFW in 2008 and this is when it all began.

AG: Do you think it’s hard for students to get taken seriously in the industry after graduating?

KS: I think that graduates don’t have as much business knowledge so this could be one of the reasons and also when you are fresh out of college you still have this desire to create unique designs that aren’t necessarily commercially viable.

AG: Your current collection Blossoms Will Run Away seems to be quite a nostalgic range. What inspired you?

KS: I was really missing home and wanted to go and visit my family but I knew I wouldn’t have time this year because of my AW09 production and preparations for fashion week. I think this stayed with me and most of the influences were related to home. I love naive paintings which are traditional to Croatian culture and my crochet pieces kind of developed from a small necklace that my grandmother crocheted and I found all these things she gave me when I moved to my new studio, so it all seemed to happen organically.

AG: It must be challenging entering new areas with your collections. With your latest, you’ve ventured into swimwear. As a designer do you feel this is a natural progression, pushing yourself in new directions with what you are doing?

KS: I never planned to do swimwear even in my debut collection last year but I just felt the need to make something that I’d like to wear and perhaps show something that was slightly different.

Karla Spetic

Next Article: Tamas Jones – Constructing Things