Betty Doop

Top: Trenery

Skirt: Doops Designs (also available in cotton here)

Belt: City Chic

Shoes: Seychelles

I’m ashamed to admit that when I was younger I found Australian native plants desperate and scraggly-looking compared to their European counterparts. I preferred roses to gum blossoms, tulips to waratahs.

As I’ve grown up the beauty of the Australian landscape has grown on me. Every year I look forward to seeing the wattle bloom in spring, will pull over to cut a branch from a flowering eucalyptus. There’s nothing quite like the colour of the Australian sky.

Recently I’ve been on the hunt for more clothes and accessories with Australian native motifs, and my search brought me to Doops Designs, a gorgeous range of hand screen-printed textiles, clothes, and homewares designed by a local artist named Jane Newham.

I kind of want one of everything (Confetti! Banksias! Chubby bathing ladies!) but decided to start with the Protea skirt. It’s not an Australian native (thought it looks like it’s been teamed with banksias?) but it’s pretty close. The skirt is available in both a cotton and a silk fabric, but after some deliberation I went with the silk – it’s a bit more expensive, but I thought the soft drape would better flatter my figure.

The skirt is a very basic, boxy cut and has an elasticized waistband. It’s very simple and low fuss, but beautifully made and finished. I was surprised with the base colour of the skirt when I received it – I had expected it to be a much darker grey, but the muted shade is probably actually more versatile. It dresses up and down, depending on whether you wear it with a casual tee, or a more tailored short or blouse.

Doops Designs are printed with eco-friendly solvent free inks, use ethically sourced fabrics, and produced in a way to reduce their carbon footprint. Which is all lovely. And also lovely is the size range: Jane’s clothing is available up to an XXXL – an Australian size 20, or a 42″ waist (which can comfortably stretch larger).

An independent Australian textile designer, with ethical production values and an inclusive size range? More of this, please!

 

Print Envy

Top: Variety Hour

Skirt: Modcloth

Belt: Sportscraft

Shoes: Chie Mihara

Since 2008 (!) when I first started Frocks and Frou Frou, the offerings available for plus size women has just grown and grown and grown, but there’s still some glaring gaps in the market.

I love local indie designers Obus and Gorman (and Miranda Murphy, and Wolf and Mishka, and about eleventy hundred more hipster-cool brands that pop up at design markets) but one of the main things that they seem to share – apart from great prints and contemporary cuts – is the inability to go above a size 14.

Guy, I love prints, but I’ve reached a point where I need more than polkadots, stripes, and florals. I want abstract shapes, and geometric lines, and textile designs not just prints, and honestly, I’m finding them very few and far between.

There’s a girl who works in my office (with the most magnificent tumble-down, golden-red curls you’ve ever seen – if you know her, her you’ll know who I’m talking about). She’s absolutely lovely, and wears all the amazing kinds of cool prints and cuts that I wish I could squeeze myself into. There’s one particular top that she wears with some regularity, and when I told her how much I admired it she told me it was from Melbourne-based textile designer Cassie Byrne. The name rang a bell a few weeks later when I stumbled across Cassie herself at the Finders Keepers Market.

Cassie graduated RMIT in 2014, and has since worked as a freelance designer for clients including Beci Orpin, Milk and Sugar and Kuwaii. Her own brand, Variety Hour, offers cushions, bags, scarves and clothing printed with her bold and beautiful artwork which is often inspired by rock formations and natural fauna and flora.

I couldn’t resist trying one of the tops on… just in case… and was totally delighted to discover that the XL was forgiving enough to fit the Rack of Doom. It’s a boxy, flowing fit with a tapered waist and cuffed dolman sleeves and I wanted it in all of the prints, but limited myself to one – the Tropica.

Inspired by the sub-tropical rainforest of Gondwana, the print was hand painted using pigment inks, then printed in Melbourne on a lovely silk crepe de chine that drapes beautifully, and has held its colour and shape brilliantly over repeated wears and washes.

It’s has the colour and print that I’ve always loved, but with a bit of uniqueness and maturity that late-thirties-me appreciates. It’s definitely one of the more expensive pieces in my wardrobe, but has already proven itself worth the investment.

It was pretty exciting to see that earlier this year Variety Hour was picked up by US cult favourites, Anthropologie (including this top!), and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for this wonderful, local designer.

 

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