Makers of Melbourne

Welcome to Makers Of Melbourne – the ‘go to’ guide for our technically integrated age.

Makers Of Melbourne has been created to consume and assimilate Melbourne culture. We're male focussed, but not male specific, sorting through the dross to weed out the creative stars, standout events and stylish folk that make this city unique. 

MOM aims to embrace all facets of what makes this city a creative hub. Our aim is to inform without condescending – to keep you abreast of what’s going on without regurgitating Press Releases & to seek out this city’s sub cultures to give our readers the inside scoop on what’s REALLY happening with the people who make Melbourne Melbourne.

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The Event: Falls Festival, Lorne 2017

For its 25th birthday, the annual Falls Festival treated itself to a line up complete with a handful of festival favourites, a scattering of international acts and a tonne of home grown artists. Living, breathing, singing, and dancing proof that Triple J’s commitment to Australian music is paying off in spades and influencing the national music industry, programmers and punters alike.

Fans gather to watch Dune Rats perform at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback

Fans gather to watch Dune Rats perform at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback

While this week’s announcement of the 2018 Coachella line up has the international music scene questioning the longevity of the world's heritage music festivals. The popularity of our local performers – with DZ Deathrays, Peking Duck and Angus and Julia Stone pulling crowds on par to those gathered to watch international drawcards Foster the People and The Kooks – indicates that the lifespan of Falls Festival looks set to sustain itself for another 25 years at least.

Shane Parsons from DZ Deathrays performs at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Shane Parsons from DZ Deathrays performs at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Here’s the thing. Festival lineups have become a bit samey over the last couple of years, with all manner of experts blaming streaming services like Spotify for influencing the way that we consume music. The standard mix tends to be one big name reunion, a couple of breakthrough indie pop or rock bands and a shed load of hip hop and dance acts. And while only two or three years ago the former tended to sell the tickets, draw the biggest crowds and waft through their set on a wave of nostalgia, it looks like the tide may have finally turned, in Lorne at least.

Danny Beusaraus performs with his band Dune Rats at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Danny Beusaraus performs with his band Dune Rats at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

No band proves the popularity of Aussie music like Dune Rats. Last appearing on the Falls schedule in 2015 when they played a stinking hot afternoon set, this year the raucous trio found themselves with a primo evening slot on the 29th December. Dunies know how to keep an audience entertained. From the moment they entered on razor scooters to Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’, through to their Sponge Bob influenced logo, and the giant inflatable Young Henry’s beer cans that they had bouncing through the audience. While a cynical eye might look at it as a subtly incorporated plug for their 2017 collaboration with the Sydney based brewery, Dune Rats practice what they preach and have worked extremely hard to build up their reputation as a group of fair dinkum, beer drinking, dope smoking ‘slackers’. A sentiment that resonates and translates extremely well into merch sales, it seemed like every other attendee was seen in a Dune Rats t-shirt at some stage over the four-day event.

While Dune Rats started the party on day two, it was Adelaide native Allday who drew one of the largest crowds on the 30th December. Preluded by sets by American Rapper D.R.A.M and British dance act Jungle, who both managed to warm up the chilly audience nicely as temperatures plummeted and sporadic rain fell. Although both were great, these performances seemed like nothing but support acts for boundary-breaking Allday, who successfully mixed both genres during his hour-long slot.

Rapper Allday performs at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Rapper Allday performs at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Now based in LA, the young rapper tossed out a majority of songs from his 2017 album, Speeding, and inspired mass sing-a-longs to his eclectic mix of electro-tinged hip hop. In a similar vein to Dune Rats, Allday’s lyrics centre around the themes of partying and getting fucked up. But all is handled with a sensitive touch, his Little Lord Fauntleroy bob and schoolboy docs lending him an air of sensitive new age Rapper.

Liam Gallagher doesn’t seem to be the type of guy who’d appreciate the sensitive new age tag. But his show, which followed on from Allday, was tinged with crowd-pleasing Oasis covers and lots of good banter. While some of us were hoping for that long-awaited Noel and Liam reunion, it looks like we’ll have to keep on keeping on and be satisfied with the younger Gallagher’s semi-regular tours down under. Even though he travelled the country not too long ago with his Beady Eyes, this summer festival run has been billed as Liam’s first official solo shows in Australia and his hour on stage was the talk of Saturday night.  

Liam Gallagher performs on his first 'solo' tour of Australia, at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Liam Gallagher performs on his first 'solo' tour of Australia, at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

There’s magic in the air on new year’s eve. With early performances by Melbourne locals Alice Ivy and Alex Lahey out of the way, there was a collective march up the hill to the Grand Theatre to catch Ecca Vandal, the teeny performer showing off her immense vocal skills and urging the amassed audience to dance as she ushered in evening from her vantage point on stage.

Ecca Vandal performs at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Ecca Vandal performs at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

If we hadn’t had experienced enough local talent, Wil Wagner and the rest of The Smith Street Band played their hearts out as the sun dipped on the last day of 2017. When Makers interviewed Smith Street drummer Chris Cowburn back in 2014, he praised Wagner’s ability to. “articulate himself really honestly, like no one I’ve ever met before”. And it's this openly displayed passion that continues to draw audience numbers years later. The band closed their set with 2016’s ‘Death to the Lads’, and with lyrics which focus on the plight of the modern world, it sounded like the perfect way to wind up what has been a pretty emotional year globally.

Wil Wagner and The Smith Street band usher in the New Year at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

Wil Wagner and The Smith Street band usher in the New Year at the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. Image: Kirsty Umback. 

With the new year countdown approaching and the promise of a fresh start, it was time British party band Glass Animals to get our dancing feet moving and shake off any of 2017’s remaining cobwebs. Although they were just in the country for February’s Laneway Festival, it’s always a pleasure to catch a Glass Animals performance.      

But the night wasn’t over and it was left to American hip hop duo Run the Jewels to guide us into 2018. Run the Jewels have amassed a pretty solid tour history here in Oz. In 2014 the played Laneway, Southbound and Falls, they also embarked on a successful run of sideshows supported by Joey Bada$$.

With that previously mentioned Spotify phenomenon apparently responsible for watering down our consumption of music, it’s also pretty fair to assume that it’s given performers a sense of freedom when it comes to experimenting with a variety of genres. Once considered the class clowns of the hip hop scene - in 2015 they released a remix album that consisted of cat meows as beats - the pair has become increasingly political with their raps and rhymes. Working their way through a set tinged with overtones of American imperialism and anti-consumerism, Run the Jewels were without a doubt the perfect way to wave goodbye to the political shit storm that was 2017.

Fans attend the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne.  Image: Kirsty Umback.   

Fans attend the 25th annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne.  Image: Kirsty Umback.   

So while the rest of the world may be worried about the future of music festivals like Coachella, it seems pretty clear to this reviewer that there are bigger issues to deal with.
Meanwhile, here in Australia it pretty safe to assume that both the local music scene and travelling festivals like Falls are doing more than ok – a sentiment that we hope shines over all aspects of 2018.

The Event: NGV presents, The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture

While the traditional gift given for a seventieth anniversary is platinum, the prestigious couture house of Dior has instead decided to celebrate this landmark birthday with an Australian exhibition. Exclusive to Melbourne, this stunning fashion display is a true collaboration between the National Gallery of Victoria and the House of Dior. More than two years in the making, the NGV has on display over 140 garments designed by Christian Dior Couture between 1947 and 2017. The collection includes toiles, accessories, and illustrations, giving visitors a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one of the world’s best-known fashion labels.   

Exhibited over a number of grand, sweeping rooms, each part of the exhibition explores the story of the fashion house through a series of themes, all working in conjunction to celebrate the life of Christian Dior. And rightly so, without the French designer’s legendary 1947 New Look collection, there would be none of the exaggerated shoulders, cinched in waists and accentuated hips that laid the foundations for the house.

‘December Evening’ (Soiree de December) 1955 by Christian Dior

‘December Evening’ (Soiree de December) 1955 by Christian Dior

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While a selection of Dior’s original designs takes pride of place in the first room of the display, the NGV has taken great effort to feature works by the six other designers who have helped to shape the brand’s reputation: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The exhibition narrates the rich history of the fashion house, including Christian Dior’s early influences and his love of floral inspired silhouettes. Since his mysterious death in 1957, Dior’s subsequent designers have continued to push fashion boundaries, infusing these familiar shapes with opulent fabrications and rich colour palettes.

The house of Dior has long held a unique and longstanding affinity with Australia. As if to explain why we have been chosen to host this exclusive collection, on display are seating charts from the historic Spring 1948 fashion parade held at David Jones, Sydney.  The first complete Dior collection outside of Paris, models in the parade wore wore fifty original creations by Christian Dior.

‘Banco’ Evening Dress 1948 by Christian Dior

‘Banco’ Evening Dress 1948 by Christian Dior

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Hat by milliner Stephen Jones AW 2007

Hat by milliner Stephen Jones AW 2007

'Look 54' (dress) SS 2015 by Raf Simmons. 

'Look 54' (dress) SS 2015 by Raf Simmons. 

'Climene' (long evening dress) AW 59-60 by Yves Saint Laurent. 

'Climene' (long evening dress) AW 59-60 by Yves Saint Laurent. 

Marc Bohan designs  - Dior head designer 1960-1989

Marc Bohan designs  - Dior head designer 1960-1989

John Galliano designs  - Dior head designer 1996-2011

John Galliano designs  - Dior head designer 1996-2011

John Galliano designs  - Dior head designer 1996-2011

John Galliano designs  - Dior head designer 1996-2011

'Baroque Garden' (Jardin Baroque)  SS 2017 by Maria Grazia Chiuri

'Baroque Garden' (Jardin Baroque)  SS 2017 by Maria Grazia Chiuri

'Village Party (Fete au Village)  SS 1955 by Christian Dior

'Village Party (Fete au Village)  SS 1955 by Christian Dior

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is on display at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia from now until 7 November 2017.

 

Images courtesy of  Kirsty Umback

Interview: Amanda McCarthy, Leonard St.

Australian brand Leonard St. is the epitome of cool, with simple lines and sophisticated silhouettes. Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy loves print, colour and beautiful fabrics and these materials have formed the basis of her designs for over a decade. 

This Melbourne based label recently celebrated its 10th year of creating eclectic garments with a whimsical, urban style, inspired by bright happy colors and original prints of both a vintage and modern persuasion.

Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy

Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy

A self proclaimed fashion label born from doodles and experiments, McCarthy works on the ethos of understated chic and each piece is created to endure years of “frolicking and romance”. With a background in sculpture and fine arts, drape and line are the starting points of McCarthy’s design process, followed by fabrication for form and structure. 

The designer does most of her design work by hand in her recently acquired coastal studio.

McCarthy: “A view of the water is a new luxury and certainly helps me to get to that creative zone.”

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Her techniques for designing prints can be anything from simple potato cuts (SS10), finger painting with her daughters (SS10), pencil drawings and floral or insect patterns (AW11).

McCarthy: “We have a lot of insects in the garden and my little daughter is fascinated by them. Print design often comes from real life experience, the swallow (SS10-11) started by trying to slow down my husband’s tattoo addiction by trying to get him to research the design more, the swallow is the traditional motif for sailor tattoos as it was the symbol of land close by, yearned for after months at sea. It is all done by hand.”

With the tradition of the ragtrade in her blood, McCarthy’s future was seemingly prewritten – Her grandfather was the first to import Liberty fabrics into Australia and fine linens from Ireland in the 1930s and had a showroom of his brand, Laurie McCarthy, in Flinders Lane for 50 years spanning 1930-1980. Amanda wanted a more ambiguous and nostalgic tone to her brand and named it after Leonard Street in East London where a wild sartorial scene inspired her own playful approach to fashion.

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

McCarthy worked in retail before moving into buying, visual merchandising and managing film wardrobe departments before turning her hand to design.

Since its inception in 2004 her brand has shown internationally in London and Beijing as well as being regularly shown at Melbourne’s annual Fashion Festival.  Leonard St. has also collaborated with Australian high street brand Sportsgirl, producing a capsule collection of playful summer pieces for their 30 stores across Australia during Summer 2013, and Porsche, for whom McCarthy recently designed a signature silk scarf.

Last month Amanda announced the launch of a new childrenswear line, Little Leonard St. The range designed in a selection of her favourite prints, its inception the perfect method for brightening up her own children’s wardrobes. The move into children’s clothing is a natural progression for the label and an excellent way for Amanda to expand herself creatively, giving Leonard St. a unique standing point in an increasingly oversaturated Melbourne fashion market. 

McCarthy: “Once I had kids myself a lot people asked me if I would go into kids wear. I didn’t plan to, but after buying product for own kids that stretched or shrunk or ran, and I stated to visualise my prints working on some cute kids pieces, I couldn’t resist!”

It is this creative vision and foresight that has helped sustain Leonard St. over the past decade and will see it through many seasons to come, as well as an excellent way of increasing the longevity of the range of seasonal prints.

McCarthy:  "Its sad for me when I put so much work into a print, and it is well received I would like to continue it, if I can increase its shelf life past 6 months, then I’m happy! But I'm careful. I think it’s important to keep fresh product and presence in the store. So with the kids it has allowed me to continue with some of the old favourites, like the Fox or the Deer. And once on the kidswear they work really well."

Amanda confides to Makers that she loves to see her own daughters dressed in Little Leonard St, and takes on board what they like to wear again and again. With the guidance of her children she's added a sunhat and a few more cute dress styles, as well as a boycut tshirt and a little panda print tee to the range, much to the pleasure of her clients.

McCarthy: "The Little Leonard St section does bring a real warm and fuzzy feeling to the store. It evokes lots of smiles and oohs and ahhs, so of course we love that."

Leonard St. and Little Leonard St. are currently available in store and online. Visit the website for all shop and stockist enquiries.     

 

 

 

 

Interview: Rob Mason

There was a time when barbershops were ubiquitous, functioning not only as a place for a man to get his haircut, but as a community touchstone for men to meet up, catch up on the news and possibly get a stiff drink. But then the good old barbershop ceded to the ‘Salon’ and the barber gave way to the stylist, with not a straight razor or bottle of whisky in sight.

Thankfully, the traditional barbershop has undergone a serious reimagining in recent years. There seems to be no stopping the resurgence in this good old fashioned service, and a new generation of Melbourne Barbershops has given local guys the opportunity to enjoy a similar experience to those of previous generations.

Even artists like Kanye West are now employing a full-time travelling barber and although he may not (yet) be employed by Yeezy, local barber Rob Mason recently trimmed the mane of international style icon Nick Wooster while he was in the country filming a Woolmark campaign.

Rob: “I used to do a lot of work with GQ and while he was in town Nick needed a haircut. Wayne Gross (from GQ) had seen the space and the haircuts and it was totally up Nick’s alley so he just brought him down. Nick Wooster seems to want to seek out a ‘hidden gem’ as opposed to a chain. There was a film crew here and probably about four photographers and a whole heap of people just following him around for the Woolmark documentary. We had music pumping so no-one could talk to him and he slept throughout the whole thing.” 

The classically trained Mason opened his new barbershop Morris Motley, within a modern warehouse in Cremorne earlier this year. Having his own space has given Rob a newfound sense of freedom and the end result is a relaxed masculine environment.

Rob: “We’ve been open around two months, and it took about six months to put together. I used to manage a salon so I already had a clientele. It happened quite instantly when we did kick off. The business looks like a start-up but because I had that clientele and I’d been working with these products for so long it all came together really quickly.”

The Nik Bouras designed space is slick with a classic twist.

Rob: “I said, please make it look like New York.”

Clients can relax in deep leather armchairs whilst they wait for Rob to work his magic. There’s also an open lab space, where the enthusiastic hairdresser has been working on his own range of grooming products, which are due for release before the end of 2014. What originally started out as a hobby for Rob has turned into a full-blown obsession and the chance to create a legacy, doing something he loves and filling what he sees as a  substantial gap in the men’s grooming market.

Rob: “I knew that I could make a difference. Guy’s products are so primitive compared to women’s. I started getting focused on the chemistry and dermatology around two and a half years ago. I started by taking a graph of all my clientele that seemed to have dermatitis or little red marks on the skin and it was around 70%. I started studying and I realised that the ingredients in men’s products that are so bad and so cheap that they just make it worse. It seemed like a problem that was so easily fixed. When I’m not cutting hair I’m in the lab tinkering about.”

The native Tasmanian, who has called Melbourne home for the past four years, credits the burgeoning success of Motley to his years of practical experience, not to mention the credit of a very strong team behind him.

Rob: “I went to Uni and didn’t really enjoy it and the only other thing that interested me was hairdressing. I liked the idea of working by myself or one on one with a client. My girlfriend at the time used to model for salons and I would go and pick her up and see the stylists working with hair and it looked like fun. It’s been a huge slog but worth it - Like anything, you become obsessed with what you do and try to become the best at it.” 

As men pay an increasing amount of attention to their grooming routines, there’s no doubt that this men’s only hair salon will continue to evolve to serve the ever changing needs of the client.

Rob: “It [the return of the barbershop] has reintroduced guys to masculine haircuts and they need to be cut well and tailored to the head. A man is always going to feel good if he looks handsome, it’s a no-brainer.” 

Interview: Jason Galea

Saskwatch, The Murlocs, Frowning Clouds and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. What do these Australian bands all have in common? If you’ve had your hands on any of the recent releases by these musicians, you will have seen the work of local mixed media artist Jason Galea.

Jason’s artwork first came to our attention when we interviewed Zak Olsen from the Frowning Clouds a couple of months ago. We were blown away by the band’s recent set of tour posters – the collaged images were a perfect fit for the Frowning Clouds’ aesthetic. After some coaxing, we managed to track down the Kensington-based artist, who took some time out of a very busy schedule to answer our questions.

Jason Galea portrait by Kristian Wild

Jason Galea portrait by Kristian Wild

Hi Jason, first of all thanks for the chat with Makers of Melbourne. Your work first came to our attention on several recent album covers and tour posters, but when did you start working with the Melbourne music industry and was there a “big break” involved?

I hadn’t done anything in the music industry until The Murlocs EP, early 2012. King Gizzard’s 12 Bar Bruise album and a couple of videos followed. Not long after that, Warner Music asked me to do the two Nuggets’ releases and I’ve been busy ever since.

When designing for other people or major companies is there a sense of artistic compromise, or do you have ways to separate the work that you want to create from the work that the artist or corporation wants?

 There’s occasional compromise but I usually have a lot of creative freedom doing what I do. With that comes the task of creating something that works for the sensibility of the client. At the end of the day, it’s their visual identity I’m playing with so I have to keep everybody happy, not just myself. 

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard -   "Oddments" Triple Gatefold Album cover

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - "Oddments" Triple Gatefold Album cover

When we spoke to Zak from the Frowning Clouds, he told us that you listened to their album to get inspiration for the cover art. Is this typical of the way you work and does music influence all of your creations?

I always try to start with ideas that are a reaction to what I’m hearing. Listening and discovering music has a big influence on my output, but the artwork and packaging for the music is just as – or sometimes more – influential to me.

When and how did you start creating art? Were you artistic from childhood? 

 Creating art has always been a big part of my life; I was the kid in class that could draw. Dinosaurs, Batman or whatever cartoons were on TV at the time formed my childhood art repertoire. In my teenage years my artistic endeavours revolved around recreating skate logos.

You work in mixed media, from video to collage. When did you start experimenting with different mediums?

 I’ve always found myself looking for new things to get busy with. Filming and editing skate videos opened up a lot of possibilities to me. I studied Multimedia after high school and learnt about designing for the web, 3D animation and everything else digital. Bringing everything together into ‘Zonk Vision’ was when things started to get really fun.

Dorsal Fins -   "Gripless 12" Vinyl Artwork

Dorsal Fins - "Gripless 12" Vinyl Artwork

Could you please tell us about ‘Zonk Vision’ and take us through how you got involved?

Zonk Vision’ is an AV collective formed in early 2009. At the time it was Danny Wild, Greg Holden and myself experimenting with audio and video together over the summer. We started putting our videos online and eventually put on our first show, then we kept the ball rolling from there. At the moment we are a loose collective of about 10 people. We put on events that blur the borders between live music, film screening and performance around Australia.

Your work has such a distinct feel, regardless of the medium/media used. We really like the way that you use colour and pop cultural references. Aside from music, what would you say are the biggest influences on your work?

The works of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Michel Gondry, Victor Moscoso, Martin Sharp, Tadanori Yokoo and Paper Rad have all helped shape my work. I’m influenced on a day-to-day basis by Danny Wild and Ben Jones from ‘Zonk Vision’. All the artists being published by No-One-Special are very influential to me, too.

Saskwatch  "A Love Divine" single cover. 

Saskwatch  "A Love Divine" single cover. 

Do you ever exhibit your work or do you have any exhibitions planned for the near future?

I’ve been a part of several group exhibitions, screenings, installations and live performances over the last five years. I’m regularly doing live visual projections for bands, too. This September, I’ll be going with ‘Zonk Vision’ to New York where we’ll be doing screenings and as many shows as we can squeeze into the three weeks that we are there.

Is art your full-time job or do you have a ‘nine-to-five’ as well? If so, how do you balance the two?

I was working in the video department of an evil corporation for five years, that helped me pay the bills and gave me time to work out my art, build up enough freelance work and I now never want to work in an office again! My art keeps me busy seven days a week, whether it’s work for bands, ‘Zonk Vision’ or co-running Steady Bumpen skateboards.

Artwork for   The Frowning Clouds album "Whereabouts"  - CD, cover & inner artwork

Artwork for The Frowning Clouds album "Whereabouts"  - CD, cover & inner artwork

Interview: James Nolen

“Film is everything now in dictating people’s subconscious attitudes to style and fashion.”

-       James Nolen

As the film programmer for the Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI), James Nolen views film as far more than a release in to fantasy: for him, it reads as a barometer of society’s cultural landscape, particularly as it relates to notions of style.

From the influence of The Breakfast Club in defining ‘80s style to Val Kilmer’s telling of Jim Morrison’s life in The Doors, that was the spark to ignite the leather jeans trend of the early ‘90s, the ability of film costume to exert influence on what we wear – and how – has only grown more powerful.

James: “The latest Hunger Games film is an interesting example: that one film was going to do more for that whole luxe sports industry than anything else. Costume designer Trish Somerville was looking for some contemporary high performance sportswear for the training sequence in Catching Fire and came across the label Lucas Hugh from the UK. Trish commissioned not only women's but menswear from Lucus Hugh, which was a first for the company. With the huge global success of this film, you can imagine what influence it will have on the major sportswear brands and some of the fast fashion retailers who are also expanding into sportswear, most notably, Uniqlo”

The Great Gatsby, too, has done more than its fair share to float further the gentleman’s outfitter revival that’s captured the imaginations of so many men across the city.

James: “Fashion in film completely filters down to street level, especially with Gatsby’s take on men’s fashion; those beautiful derby shoes and lovely textured socks that were a feature of the ensemble. You do see that filtering through even to mainstream at places like Top Man.”

But the film and shoe buff’s own personal style heralds from a different source: the queen of English punk rock fashion, Vivienne Westwood. She is, he believes, one of the few men’s shoe designers willing to take radical style risks in order to realise her vision.

James: “She is willing to make ugly shoes that then become beautiful in two years time. I don’t think she cares if they work, as long as they work for her.”

It is a perfect match: James is nothing if not adventurous in his choices, from today’s silver custom-made Rocco shoes to the Melbourne-made red brogues produced by a local Greek shoemaker under the Pantheon label. 

James admits he pushes the boundaries, noting the regular comments received on some of his more striking pairs. But then what are shoes, he notes, if not a vehicle for self-expression?

James Nolen, ACMI film programmer.

www.acmi.net.au

 

Street Style: Bosco

Bosco is an understated guy. Softly spoken and not overly flashy, he's a stylish individual with an eye for classic pieces that marry well and are built to last. We stopped Bosco in South Melbourne where he shyly agreed to let Makers of Melbourne take his picture. His ensemble comprised a pair of New Balance sneakers, classic Levis jeans, Beams Boy scarf & Breton style tee by APC.

Interview: Julia deVille

“I don’t really look outward for inspiration – I have enough that comes from within."

 Julia deVille

It’s been a long 10-months for Julia deVille. Makers meets her after a few false starts, earlier arrangements derailed by a week-long illness arriving as the result of exhaustion: the artist has spent the better part of a year working 12- to 13-hour days in order to keep up with a demanding schedule as her star continues to rise.

Certainly it appears that the woman whose inspiration rises from Victorian-era ideals of life, death and nature – art works realised through her dual passions of taxidermy and jewellery – has created a rich niche for herself in an art world enamoured of her confronting visions. 

ku140317JuliaDeVille3053.jpg

And they are confronting. Having opened the door to her Collingwood warehouse studio, Julia leads us through the diaspora of beauty and death that is her working space: look to the right and take in her striking rings and necklaces replete with Gothic motifs; look to the left and your gaze may fall upon three taxidermied puppies curled up on porcelain salad plates.

That Julia sees no philosophical clash between her animal loving, vegan nature and her taxidermied works speaks clearly to the artist’s unique view of the world.

Julia: “My grandmother gave me her fox fur stole when I was five or six, one of those styles with the head and you would wrap it and hold the tail in its mouth. I loved it. I used to dress up in it and I felt like it was still alive because it had all its features. So as soon as I worked out taxidermy was something you could do, I wanted to learn how to do it.  And then I’ve always just been a massive animal lover – I became a vegetarian when I was nine and I’m now vegan – so, for me, taxidermy was a way of celebrating animals and being around them when you are growing up in a city. As a child I was always interested in death, so for me it seems entirely normal and not at all macabre.”

These words are spoken as she sits, surrounded by vases of dead roses dried to preserve their skeletal beauty, the glint of her Victorian-era inspired silver rings catching the light.

She acknowledges that, initially at least, her work was often viewed through a lens of shock. Like the mouse brooch created from a taxidermied rodent whose eyes were replaced with diamonds and its tail a cord of silver – for Julia the ideal marriage as she undertook both a jewellery design course and a mentorship working alongside a retired Melbourne taxidermist.

Julia: “When I first started blending taxidermy and jewellery it was considered plain crazy, but then I’ve always been a bit different. Since then a lot more people have started to work in taxidermy and a lot of big art collectors are collecting it so it means I get to now do what I love and live off it.”

Certainly it is recognised among the Melbourne arts community that Julia is one of the more successful contemporary artists operating within a city teeming with talented creatives: a recent installation found its showing as part of the NGV’s Melbourne Now exhibition extended, while her current showing as part of the Adelaide Biennial, PHANTASMAGORIA, has generated critical acclaim. Not that the idea of acclaim appears to influence her degree of commitment.

Julia: “Recognition is not the driving force for me. The driving force is the creative process and the problem solving and making something that you really love. Anything else that comes is just a bonus.”

And the “bonuses” keep on coming: though confessing to “lone wolf” status (“I prefer my own company”) the artist now works alongside three assistants required to help her meet demand on a jewellery business that now spans the globe: along with growing demand in Australia and New Zealand, Julia’s pieces have found resonance as far away as Texas, Russia and Romania.

There is a rare, upcoming collaboration with painter and tattooist Leslie Rice (twice winner of the Doug Moran Portrait prize) for a joint show at Sophie Gannon Gallery scheduled for September, not to mention a still-born foal stored in one of her many freezers that will take centre stage for an installation planned for exhibit in 2015.

Of course, for Julia, it all comes back to following her passions, however dark they may seem to a world looking through the eccentric prism of her gaze.

Julia: “I would still be doing it as a hobby even if I couldn’t sell it. It’s always just been for the love of it.”



Street Style: Kieren

Kieren was stopped by the Makers of Melbourne team as he left Fitzroy cafe 'De Clieu' & it soon became apparent that every piece of clothing he wore had special significance for him. From his vintage American Varsity jacket to his embroidered Mexican chambray shirt, there was a history to how each item had come to be a part of his wardrobe. New Zealand artist & friend Joe Sheehan had given three of only a dozen handmade Jade keys to Kieren as a gift, which he wears as a necklace on an antique fob chain. His outfit was completed with a classic 1960's Rolex, Japanese designed S2W8 navy suede moccasins & a pair of Flat Head jeans. 

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Interview: Client Liaison


(L-R) Monte Morgan & Harvey Miller photographed in the Phillips Shirts office, Little Lonsdale street

(L-R) Monte Morgan & Harvey Miller photographed in the Phillips Shirts office, Little Lonsdale street

Phillips Shirts is a hive of activity. The unassuming clothing factory (one of the last remaining in Melbourne) is buzzing with the sound of sewing machines and general chitchat as machinists and designers carry out their work in the large open planned warehouse. It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon and Makers has been invited to meet and shoot one of its favourite new bands in the factory space, the electro duo Harvey Miller and Monte Morgan of Client Liaison.

Purveyors of turn-of-the-Nineties business class Australiana, Client Liaison has quickly built up a name for itself on the local music scene. The band has released three singles and one B-side (the sublime, 'That’s Desire'), toured nationally and snagged a coveted spot as part of this year's Laneway Festival lineup. We meet the stylish duo in the factory’s general office where the unassuming lads are busy admiring the original décor and retro furnishings (a match for their shared aesthetic) when we start our interview. 

Friends since childhood, Monte and Harvey began recording music together in 2008.

 Harvey: “I was making beats and Monte was doing vocals. He was the most immediate and obvious person to turn to when I needed help. We started doing stuff together and we’re really happy with the outcome.”

Client Liaison started playing house parties in 2009 and the boys happily admit that the early days were a struggle as they learnt their way around the recording studio.

Monte: “At first it was a long slow process. Harvey would bring a beat to me and I’d sing over it. A few months later he’d come back to me with the same song but it would be completely transformed so I’d have to lay my vocals again.”

Harvey: “At the start it would take years to complete one song because we were learning as we went. During that whole period we weren’t really worried about the fact that we weren’t putting anything out, Monte was improving his voice, I was improving my techniques as a producer. We were learning. Those years were unproductive in the sense that there was no output but they were hyper productive in other ways. Some of the songs we’re releasing now were created during that period. They were always good, but it was a very slow process. You can only do one thing at a time when you’re creating everything from scratch.”

Musically the pair bonded over a mutual love of vintage Australia and a deep sense of patriotism.

Monte: “I write medleys about beer, Christopher Skase, Les Patterson and Alan Bond. Themes like the cosmopolitan male, Australian masculinity and those jet setting vibes are all important to us. Harvey’s also been at art school for the past couple of years and has been developing those philosophies in his personal work. We’ve found a way of fusing everything together.”

Retro Australiana is more than a passing fad for these two,  it’s a way of life.

Monte: “We look to that era (the late 1980s) firstly because it was when we were born. Socially in Australia we were on morale high. The country was drunk with it’s own power and everyone was so proud to be Australian. That’s the attitude we champion and people tend to forget, or they can’t see the difference between nationalism and patriotism. We’re very patriotic.”

Harvey: “The music is first and foremost but we’d never neglect developing a narrative. We call it the Client Liaison sentiment: those traditional ideologies. It’s the sound of the 80s that really stands out to us. We listen to music from that era and love the sophisticated, synthesized sound that was born out of disco. When we’re making music we can’t not put attention into the theatre and narrative of our performance, that’s the fun part for us.”

These themes are evident in the way both Monte and Harvey present themselves, from their haircuts through to wardrobe and accessories. It’s impossible not to see the glee on their faces as they rummage through Phillips’ extensive collection of vintage menswear. By the time we’re ready to pack up and leave both singer and producer have a large collection of clothing to purchase.

Makers leave the duo to haggle prices with the accommodating staff, exchanging goodbyes and a promise to come and see the pair when they play the Northcote Social Club later this month. We know they’ll sound great and can’t wait to see what they’ll be wearing.

Client Liaison plays Portsea Beach Club Sunday, April 20 and the Northcote Social Club on Friday, April 25 and Sunday, April 27.

 

The Event: The Menske Project

Like all great ideas, Menske began with identification of a commercial niche that appears largely to have been ignored: that of male-focussed retail. The bloke-friendly pop up above Allpress’ Collingwood roasting house and cafe has been pulled together by men’s apparel designer Courtney Holm. The inspiration? A recent New York trip that saw Courtney stumble upon a space devoted entirely to collation of designs for men.

“I try really hard to avoid using words like ‘craft’ and ‘market’,” Courtney admits, explaining that even in creative Melbourne the majority of artisan-style pop ups focus on a more feminine aesthetic. “We just wanted to create a space where guys could come and find a whole group of brands that appeal to them.”

Certainly there is nothing of the cutesy about it. Instead the majority Melbourne-based brands run the gamut from cult wallet maker, Bellroy, to shoe designer &Attorney, men’s skincare product from boutique brand, lief, and striking haute sport-style apparel from Courtney’s own label, Article.

Coffee is plentiful and Gertrude Street menswear retailer Pickings & Parry has its barber on loan for the weekend.

But the pop up’s creation is not all about retail. For Sydneysider Courtney, the event is equally designed to cultivate relationships between makers, ‘Menske’ being a Nordic word with a textured meaning: a noun, if you like, to describe honourable and courteous intent among Mankind.

“There can be a kind of protectiveness around the fashion industry that I don’t really understand,” she says, explaining her approach while offering an insight behind the name. “I just think it’s better for everyone if we can get together and share our energy and our ideas.”

Menske is on at 84 Rupert Street in Collingwood this Saturday and Sunday, April 12 and 13. Open from 11am-8pm Saturday and 11am-6pm Sunday. The next series of Menske pop ups are scheduled in Melbourne this coming August and December.

 

Interview: Mike O'Meally

“If you’re good you put your neck on the line – that’s when it shows.”

 - Mike O’Meally

It’s a Sunday afternoon when Makers sits down for an impromptu interview with Sydney-born photographer, Mike O’Meally.

We’re sitting in the front row of RMIT’s Storey Hall where the lensman has just wrapped up a powerful closing speech at the 2014 Carbon Festival. It’s been a challenge separating the artist from a large group of assorted skaters and hangers-on, but with the help of a lone publicist we’ve managed to wrangle the New York-based snapper on to an empty chair.

Working in the industry for 20 years (including a long running stint as the senior photographer for ‘Transworld Magazine’), this 40-year-old’s pictures of professional skateboarders and boxers have received critical acclaim in the art world. He was the subject of a one-man retrospective exhibition late last year at Sydney’s China Heights Gallery, no mean feat for a photographer who began his career operating firmly within the trenches of sporting subculture.

Bobby Puleo Brooklyn, NYC June 2001.

Bobby Puleo Brooklyn, NYC June 2001.


O’Meally holds a firm gaze as we begin talk about his career, a look that makes immediately evident he is a man who doesn’t suffer fools.

“I’m a tough cookie,” he states by way of introduction. “Come on, I can take it.”

Raised in a strong Irish Catholic household, Mike began playing sports at an early age, encouraged by his father.

 Mike: “My dad would play Irish war songs on a Saturday morning as I was getting ready for football practise.”

He picked up a skateboard during his teenage years and, later, enrolled in Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales. It was the beginning of a marriage of passions.

 Family, love and war are all strong themes in the photographer’s daily life, serving as both the foundation of his person and the inspiration behind much of his photography.

 Mike: “There are some others that I tap into with my work, but they’re pretty strong ones.”

Broadway & Astor Place, NYC September 2001

Broadway & Astor Place, NYC September 2001

As we settle further into our chat, it becomes obvious that the skateboarding community has become an extended family for the often-itinerant photographer.

 Mike: “With skateboarding, the skaters are constantly putting their physical wellbeing on the line and you have to earn their trust. You spend a lot of time with them, apart from actually taking their pictures and skating. You have to become a rogue family in some ways.”

 

Being able to earn the trust of his subjects and put them at ease means that all of O’Meally’s work displays a real sense of what the father of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson, describes as “the decisive moment”. Documenting not only the world of skateboarding, but his travels to countries as diverse as Egypt, South Africa & throughout the USA, O’Meally’s images stand out not only for their composition, but because he seems to be looking for real meaning in the way people react to their environment and each other.

He breaks eye contact to check the phone softly buzzing in his pocket. “Sorry, that’s my mate,” he tells us by way of explanation. “How much more do you need, two minutes, five minutes? He’s got a beer waiting for me.”

 It’s the perfect excuse to wrap things up with the artist, an interview challenged by his intensity and cock-sure confidence. As we gather our belongings we ask for one final quote.

Mike: “Hold your pistol, shoot straight. There’s a good quote for you. As a photographer you’ve got to shoot straight and love your subject.” 

And with that he’s off, ready to join the rogue family that is both the support and focus of his photographic artistry.

Jason Jessee gets dragged by a '50 Ford, San Diego

Jason Jessee gets dragged by a '50 Ford, San Diego

 

Interview: Michael Albert, Smart Alec Hatters


“Hats for me are the completion of an outfit. When everything is considered then it becomes the full-stop at the end of a great sentence.”

                                                                            -       Michael Albert

Two things become fast apparent during a face-to-face meeting with Michael Albert, owner of premier hat store, Smart Alec, on Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street.

Firstly, the man has style, from the tips of today’s red Converse clad toes to the brim of his self-made pork pie hat. And secondly? The self-described “serial dandy” (“I have 30 vintage suits and can go for a whole month without wearing the same shirt twice”) is relentless in his quest to see men leave behind teenage fashion trends and reclaim a complete approach to dressing well.

Michael: “For me introducing men to hats is about championing the cause of a forgotten accessory. I see gentlemen in the street and, no matter how well they are dressed, if there is no hat then I just see something missing.

 

He has no hesitation in calling out lazy fashion choices, having a stern word to men for dressing as boys, and recalling the horror of his partner at over-hearing recent comments he directed toward a baseball cap-wearing browser.

Michael: “I said, ‘You don’t live in a caravan, you’ve got all your teeth – what do you wear a baseball cap for?’ And his wife agreed!”

The one-time artist and builder (“I have made things nearly all my adult life”) stocks head candy from around 10 different manufacturers, though prefers to make the glamorous specials himself: think pirate hats or the traditional fez, smaller run, presumable harder to sell pieces that speak to his more adventurous clientele.

Because for Michael, style is about much more than looking good: it’s about power, reclamation and maintaining an edge against those that would hold you down.

Michael: “As a brown fells in Australia I have used my style to disarm people – they can’t pigeon-hole you and that is to your advantage. And I’d like to think that young and old men are rediscovering that a nice suit is your friend, not an instrument of oppression in the way it was used when I went to a private boys school.”

And, if nothing else, a great hat just might increase your chances with the ladies.

Michael: “I had a lovely Indian man in his 60s come in. He bought a hat, went for a coffee and came back to tell me that the pretty young French waitress said he was perfectly coordinated.”

Not a bad return on investment.

 

 Smart Alec Hatters

235 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.

ph: (03) 9416 4664

e: info@smartalechatters.com.au

Interview: Stanislava Pinchuk

It’s not an exaggeration to suggest Stanislava Pinchuk is one of those artists who represents Melbourne as we love to imagine the city to be: daring, cultured, intelligent, interesting and wholly unique. The woman who began as a graffiti artist gracing the city with her ethereal, large-scale illustrations pasted to brick walls and doorways has moved on, while retaining (at least in spirit) the tag that informed her earlier work – M-I-S-O.

 Makers of Melbourne catches her on a sunny weekday morning just as news of the worsening crisis in her familial homeland of Ukraine hits the wires. It seems a world away from the quiet green of her plant-filled, seventh-floor studio within the iconic Nicholas building.

 But Stanislava knows the falsity of geographic distance: the world is an increasingly small space and it is artists like her who transcend language and culture through their art that help make us aware of our connectedness.

 She is broad in her reach, travelling frequently, spending months at a time in Tokyo and soon to fly to Paris to work on a book project with likeminded ‘creatives’. At 25 she is an artist on the make, a figure to watch who is breaking ground right in the heart of our city. In the midst of this busy schedule, she took time out to have a brief chat.

Can you talk us through a little bit of your progression as an artist: the development of you from a graffiti artist to the place where you now find yourself?

I'm not sure if it was really like that – I always drew and did a lot of things in between. Graffiti was just one thing I did between many others, so it wasn't such a linear progression. Unfortunately, it was just something that had to drop off after a few really gross legal experiences. One day I'll come back to working in public and, hopefully, illegally – just at the right time and place. 

 You also take a very freehand approach to tattooing, doing it by hand: it seems there is a really strong marriage between this arm of your art and the pin prick works you are increasingly becoming known for.

Yes, absolutely – it's pretty much the same technique, hammering holes in one by one. Both require the same fastidiousness and precision, so both are unforgiving if you make a mistake. It's just a question of wearing one with you wherever you go, as opposed to having it housed in a museum or home. 

To me, both mediums are very much a reference to what is historically understood as 'women's work' – things like embroidery or lacemaking. Like the pinhole works, they are technically difficult and physically demanding mediums that work to produce something quite subtle and beautiful. I think as skills that they are pretty undervalued.

Tattooing to me has always been a really similar idea: in most cultures with ritual tattoo it is most often women tattooing other women within the community. To me, it plays so much with the tension between physical pain, technical demand, and decoration and beauty. 

The Nicholas building is such an iconic space in the city's arts scene - what is it like for you to have a studio in that space as an artist? How does it fuel your inspiration?

I really, really love the Nicholas – it feels like a beehive, and you never know who you will bump into in here. It's a pretty special place, and it's got some really amazing, weird tenants. I'm pretty versatile, and can work anywhere – so I'm not sure if it fuels any inspiration directly – but it's definitely good to bump into the friends I have in this building and visit each others' studios, swap tools and talk shop. 

 Tell us about the relationships you have with some of the past and present artists in the building - you mentioned that your studio once belonged to Vali Myers?

Yes, my studio once belonged to Vali. I never knew her, but I'm a huge, huge fan. It sort of ended up mine by accident. But it's so wonderful and I get the best visitors – Vali's friends coming up and just hanging out and telling me stories. Funny, smart, totally free people: the best company. It's the greatest thing to inherit with a studio. I feel pretty lucky. 

Where do you spend your downtime in Melbourne - which parts of the city do you most relate to?

Fitzroy! To be honest, I barely get any downtime, so when I do it happens in my own neighbourhood. I've lived here for a really long time, and it's hard to imagine ever moving. Usually it's drinks and chess at my friend Andre's studio, or at The Napier pub; it's a real gem, and I hope it never changes.