‘I love seeing a woman walk past me dressed in one of my pieces, I can’t help but think they are the most attractive and alluring in the room . . . Biased but true’ – Toni Maticevski
Over the past 20 years, Toni Maticevski has become one of the most celebrated and innovative designers in Australia. He constantly pushes the boundaries of fabric manipulation, creating magical designs that have captured the imagination of people from all around the world. Esteemed author Mitchell Oakley Smith has delved into Toni’s world with his latest book, The Elegant Rebel. Featuring more than 200 images and illustrations, many unpublished, The Elegant Rebel captures Toni’s journey through fashion in great detail.
We caught up with Mitchell to find out more about his inspiration behind the book and the process he undertook to learn more about Toni.
What inspired you to write a book about Toni?
I have long followed Toni’s work, and after having profiled him for my first book in 2010 – Fashion: Australian & New Zealand Designers – I knew there was a greater story to tell. We kept in touch since then, and became good friends along the way, so the book really came about quite naturally.
Can you explain the process you undertook to write the book?
I think that the actual writing is the smallest and perhaps the easiest part of the whole process. The greatest challenge – but also the joy – really was tracing through Toni’s immense archive. There’s around 20 years worth of material since he was at university, his design signature already developing at that stage, and I really wanted this book to be a great representation of his entire body of work, not just a compilation of recent collections. So we dug through his physical garment archives, and through boxes and boxes of magazine clippings, so as to present the book as a series of thematic chapters, like gothicism, sculpture and botanics. This way, you can see how a collection from 1999 speaks to one from 2016, and see how his ideas have evolved in the time between.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned about Toni and his design process while writing the book?
Writing the book really affirmed by belief that he’s one of Australia’s most talented designers. Spending the amount of time together that we did, I saw into his day-to-day design process: of getting up at 6am to pin samples or drape fabric, not because he is disorganised but because he personally touches every single garment, such is the level of his quality and care.
What makes Toni one of the most exciting designers in the world today?
Toni truly marries creativity with commerce, and that’s a real – and rare – talent. He creates the most breathtaking gowns that can be sculptural and voluminous and in otherworldly fabrics, and yet he designs them to flatter a woman’s body, and for her to wear, even to the office. It speaks to why women love his clothes and why he has found such immense success, both in retailers around the world but also in an art context, with his forthcoming museum retrospective.
The Elegant Rebel with foreword by Kirstie Clements will be available from all good booksellers, fashion boutiques and online at tonimaticevski.com from the first week of August 2016.