Australian fashion label Kookai unveiled a unique collaboration with renowned Melbourne artist David Bromley at the official launch of its stunning new concept Chapel Street boutique last week. The launch represented a landmark for the Melbourne-based brand, combining a love of fashion and design with contemporary art and admiration for the beauty of the female form. The new boutique introduces a brand new shopping experience to the avid fashion customer, centred around original Bromley paintings of Kookai muses Alexandra Agoston and Ilona Novacek.

The inspiration behind the spacious 310sqm boutique – designed collaboratively with Hecker Guthrie and Kookai’s in-house Store Design team – was the ideal of the quintessential Kookai girl’s bespoke apartment. The focus was on creating a space where the customer felt comfortable, yet inspired. The space boasts defined zones, each showcasing a particular element of the brand’s growing range, leading into an oversized and inviting dressing room area. Contrasts of marble, timber and metallic hues complement the vibrant fabrics of Kookai’s Summer collection.

Kookai Creative Director, Danielle Vagner says it’s a significant milestone for the brand, with Kookai having opened its first Australian store on Chapel Street in 1992.

“We are very proud to launch our new concept store in Chapel Street as this is where we started 22 years ago and it is the home of fashion in Melbourne,” she said. “The new Kookai store design concept has been a labour of love, and the end result is a gorgeous store inspired by our customers.”

Couturing Fashion Editor Gemma Watts spoke to Danielle Vagner and David Bromley last week to talk fashion, art and finding a muse.

Gemma: Firstly Danielle, what can we expect from Kookai’s new Chapel Street and Macquarie Centre stores? Can you tell us a bit about the new spaces?

Danielle: These spaces are the Kookai woman’s bespoke apartment. It’s luxurious yet casual, with an intimate, warm and inviting ambiance. The spaces are open and fresh, designed to simplify our guest’s experience. Initially Kookai was known for our basic styles, but as we’ve grown and evolved, our beautiful fashion pieces have become the forefront of our success. This is why we have made our fashion stories the focus within the stores, separate from an exciting basics walk in wardrobe.

Gemma: David, your portraits have become iconic. How does the creative process begin for you? What are you inspired by?

David: After making art or exploring creative endeavours on a daily basis for nearly 3 decades now it isn’t as defined an answer to your question. Making art, being creative with 99% of things that I do it is more how I live and how I try to go about everything. I am inspired by so very much from music to biographies, from gardening to motorcycles. The list is endless, it’s an amazing remarkable world. As my Dad said always, the myriad labyrinth of determinative cause. In regards to the portraits becoming iconic, all you need do is walk into a news agency and see the outpouring of magazine covers mirroring the fascination we have with the face of the moment, the portrayal of faces and images on magazine covers mirroring how we see a fashionable face, the contemporary culture. Warhol understood and epitomised a pop culture as do these magazines and like Warhol I am drawn into it too.

Gemma: David, can you tell us a bit about the pieces you have created for Kookai’s new stores?

David: I think it became obvious when we first met with the Kookai team that what they are doing and what I am doing has a fit. So in the last months they kept doing what they do and I kept doing what I do but we collaborated in parts of our days and now that fit in my eyes shows how well we do complement each other’s daily toil and projection and encapsulation of what we do in these big bold images.

Gemma: Fashion and art are inextricably linked. Danielle, what spurred this collaboration with David? What parallels do you draw between the fashion and art worlds?

Danielle: We have watched and admired David’s work for a very long time; being known for his nude and beauty works, we always felt his distinctive expression of art resonated well with our concept of the Kookai woman. Fashion is intrinsically woven within the world of art, as is art within fashion. Art is a form of expression and of course, so is our personal fashion style.

Gemma: The portraits you’ve created are of two of Kookai’s muses, Alexandra Agoston and Ilona Novacek. What do you each look for in a muse?

Danielle: We look for a muse who we believe is the physical form of the Kookai woman, and the muses we have selected always reflect what we offer in each of our seasonal collections.

David: I am very open, I don’t dictate or look to hard. Alexandra and Ilona came to the studio and were just ideal to spend a few days with on this collaboration. Kookai do their thing, I do mine Alexandra and Ilona came in and it just flows like water. Muses aren’t sought. They appear in your life and without really contriving  it become an extended family, a part of your world.

Gemma: Danielle, how would you describe the quintessential Kookai woman?

Danielle: She’s spontaneous, passionate and fun, yet elegant and fashionable. The Kookai woman is beautiful, confident and loves to be adventurous with her style.

Gemma: Finally, Danielle, what can we expect from Kookai’s summer offering? Is there a trend we should be looking out for?

Danielle: Our summer collection, Tropeziens, was inspired by and photographed in the provincial town of St Tropez. Expect to see a fresh, energetic palette of colours and eye catching prints, flattering yet emphasised shapes and cuts, all with a touch of parisian chic.

About The Author

Gemma Watts

Gemma Watts has worked in the fashion media industry since 2012, writing for and being headhunted by some of the country's leading fashion and beauty companies. With a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) under her belt, Gemma is able to combine her two greatest passions as Couturing's Fashion Editor- fashion and writing.