July 2024

It Was Ritten

Words: Adriana Giuffrida Images: Rittenhouse

The strength of Rittenhouse lies in the label’s uncanny ability to marry timeless shapes, subtle prints and vibrant colours. Simultaneously unique and classic, Rittenhouse’s sophisticated yet casual pieces are designed to last the distance. This season the Australian design house has collaborated with Husmann/Tschaeni to create an exquisite collection featuring digitally printed garments with detailed beading and embroidered intricacies. Adriana Giuffrida speaks to Sally MacDonald about future collaborations, the joys of working with other artists and what’s in store for Rittenhouse this year.

Adriana Giuffrida: Hi Sally, how are you? Can you tell us how Rittenhouse started?

Sally MacDonald: Hi Adriana, I’m very well thank you! Ultimately we just wanted to make clothes that were beautifully sewn garments to love forever.

AG: Was it always clothing that interested you? Did you know when you met Micah that you would ultimately want to create something together?

SM: We’ve both always been interested in clothing, art, literature, all kinds of design and architecture. I had no idea when I first met Micah that we would end up working on the label together it just happened along the way. He can do things that go hand in hand with the things I can do so it made sense to do them together.

AG: Your garments have such a casual elegance to them, and are so timeless, which is a testament to your designs and Micah’s graphics, how do you begin your collections? Do the graphics come first or the shapes?

SM: We don’t structure our collections around themes or muses in a traditional way. There is usually one little tiny thing that spurs on the process, it might be a particular type of button or pocket or a colour. We kind of have to wait for that one little thing to come along and then everything flows from there, each garment inspires the next. There is not rhyme or reason about what has to come first, it changes all the time, some seasons the artwork comes first and inspires the shapes and sometimes we decide it’s all about the shapes and fabrics and keep the graphic element minimal.

AG: Your current collection sees you collaborating with Husmann/Tschaeni, who are a Swiss husband and wife team. How did this collaboration come about?

SM: This collection is all about the artwork. We first saw their work at an exhibition in Melbourne at the Until Never gallery and were completely blown away by the intricate beauty in their work and the magical qualities it seemed to have. When I started to work on the new collection I couldn’t get it out of my head so we contacted them and started to work together immediately.

AG: I can imagine that taking someone else’s art and applying it to your own artistic design aesthetic would be quite exciting, What did you enjoy most about this collaboration?

SM: It was really exciting and challenging at the same time. We only planned to do a few digitally printed garments to begin with but it was so much fun it kept growing as we kept thinking of more things we just had to do. It was kind of the opposite of what we normally do, so it was fun to mix everything around and upside down.

AG: Can you see yourselves doing any more collaborations in the future, who you would ideally love to work with?

SM: We have always liked working with different artists and will continue to do so whenever we find art that we love and want to share with people. Our next collection which will go into stores in August features a collaboration with a Japanese artist called Ikko Taniuchi. Ikko Taniuchi is a Osaka based painter and performance artist known for his bold colourful works and intense performance pieces which often involve live painting. We did a series of printed and hand embroidered tops and sweatshirts which feature selected works from Ikko Taniuchi’s exhibition “Enogu Buto” at Until Never Gallery, September 2009. You can see more of his work at http://until-never.blogspot.com/

AG: Last summer you launched your Resort Collection, which included swimwear and some of your most successful pieces. Will you do another Resort collection for Summer 2011?

SM: We love summer so the answer is YES! We have made this a permanent edition to the label and it will drop into stores in October each year. This year it’s bigger and better than last year of course. We have a selection of fantastic prints on cotton voile and ultra sheer jersey, some fun embroidery stuff and more swimwear. We’ve done beautiful handprints on Italian lycra in three flattering shapes, then we’ve got a selection of woven bikinis which are sold more like sun bathers.

AG: What is next for Rittenhouse? What other exciting projects can we expect from you guys this year?

SM: Amongst all of the above we’ve also created another tangent for Rittenhouse which will be known as our Forever line. This is a collection of luxury essentials that will be available day in day out, all year around. It’s a selection of our signature styles in super luxurious silk and bamboo jersey, as well as unisex Japanese denim jeans and everybody’s old favourites such as the button hoody and the skinny pant.


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