Since establishing the label in 2002, LIFEwithBIRD designers Bridget McCall and Nicholas Van Messner have translated conceptual ideas into versatile pieces of wearable art. Celebrating 10 years of working together in the fashion industry, LIFEwithBIRD’s latest offering, The Distance Between, represents a decade of beauty and transformation. Couturing spoke to Bridget and Nick about the designer duo’s past, present and future.
GEMMA: You’ve drawn from both nature and the man-made world for your latest collection. What inspired you to reference the world around you during the design process?
BRIDGET: This collection was quite a milestone for us in the sense that it fell in line with our ten year anniversary. We were drawn to the concept of evolution in every sense; we were looking at the evolution of the brand over the years, and were also drawn the ever changing landscape around us, with ‘The Distance Between’ being everything from the beginning up until this point, a journey that we’ve been a part of and felt we had a story to tell.
GEMMA: The fabrics you’ve used in The Distance Between are quite modern and high-tech. How else does this collection differ from your debut collection 10 years ago? Has technology aided the design process for you?
BRIDGET: Being innovative and using modern textiles is intrinsic to our process and aesthetic. It is also a conscious push to be unique and quality focused. From day one this has always been our aim, but it has been in the later years that the growth of LIFEwithBIRD has allowed us to travel and find some of the most incredible fabrics in the world.
GEMMA: With summer in the works, resort wear is the perfect appetizer for the sunshine season. How does The Distance Between differ from your previous Spring/Summer collections?
BRIDGET: With summer comes a sense of ease and this translates through the mood and colour palette, but it’s also the party, racing & wedding season, so killer frocks and tailoring feature strongly. The Distance Between is unique from past collections, because it has grown to full collection size, as opposed to simply being a top up for the spring collection. The brand is really gaining momentum and Australians have such an affinity for the summer months that Summer/Resort collections are becoming a big season for the buyers and public.
GEMMA: How would you describe the quintessential LIFEwithBIRD girl? Has she evolved over the decade?
BRIDGET: We’ve always tried to stay true to the LIFEwithBIRD signature that we’ve developed over the years, and have built a loyal following. From the beginning the concept stemmed from the beauty of function, and I still feel that’s true. We design product for people who appreciate quality, function and timeless design. Our girl is confident and knows what she is looking for.
GEMMA: What drew each of you to the fashion industry?
BRIDGET: From a young age I was surrounded by Fashion. My mother was a Fashion Designer and she was always sewing at home and making garments for our dolls and me and my sisters. I always knew I’d work in fashion in some capacity. I’ve studied Photography majoring in Fashion, and also spent many years as a stylist which really helped us in getting our label off the ground. Initially I shot our look books and I still style them to this day. Having an understanding across different platforms has been incredibly useful
NICK: In terms of direction and vocation I was lost at university. A friend of mine was flunking fashion at RMIT and I saw what he was doing and loved it. I had been brought up around the arts with my mum being and architect and Dad heading up the San Diego Theatre Company, so once I opened the creative door everything changed and fashion was the medium for me.
GEMMA: Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
BRIDGET: Take risks and be bold! Mistakes will happen and don’t be afraid of making big ones- we’ve all made plenty! Learning from them will help you to no end in the future. It’s a tough industry, but as with anything, if you’re passionate there is nothing better or more rewarding.
GEMMA: Is there a trend you’re hoping to see more of over summer?
BRIDGET: We’ve been pushing length for dresses and skirts for several seasons and it’s slowly being adopted, but there is so much more desire created by concealing, rather than flaunting.
GEMMA: What can we expect from LIFEwithBIRD over the next decade?
BRIDGET: We’ve just opened our 5th boutique in Hawksburn Village and have plans to expand into Sydney in the next 12 to 18 months, so stay tuned NSW!
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