Alice Edgeley is my kind of dame. Like a clever, saucy fashion illustration come-to-life, I had the pleasure of visiting with Alice in her studio/store Edgeley on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy for her Ruby Slipper Business Ninja feature. I first came to know of Alice via Instagram (find her @ms_edgeley – find me @iolantherubyslipper) where a veritable cavalcade of righteously dressed babes wearing jumpsuits, sweetheart-embellished catsuits and wicked velvet turbans pouted and preened with gusto and a helping of vim-and-vigour. These be-jumpsuited, turbaned types – I thought to myself – are my people. Please meet Alice Edgeley – bespoke couturier, ex-Christoper Kane, ex-Chongette, newly-minted Ruby Slipper Business Ninja and TOTAL righteous babe.
Alice in-situ in her showroom and workroom. Find a selection of ready-to-wear including accessories – or have Edgeley make you a special number from scratch.
RS. Did you always have a clear vision of yourself as a designer – or did life take you on a circuitous route to your Edgeley brand?
Alice: I remember the first time I realised I could fashion an item of clothing out of a piece of fabric – I must have been about 7. Then at 8 or 9 I started doing fashion sketches or illustrations. I have books and books of them. But I didn’t have a really clear vision of myself as a designer, it’s just something I’ve always done. I can’t stop. Though it took me until I was 32 to start my own label.
I love this ruby-lipped, round-hipped dame on display at the Edgeley boutique. If I were ever to get a tattoo (read – likely never), it would be this lady.
RS. Do you think that mentoring is important when it comes to both design and running a successful retail business? Do you have any notable mentors that changed the way you work?
Yes! It’s very important having people to talk to. It can be very frustrating and dispiriting at times, so being able to talk to someone who can understand what you’re going through, has been through it themselves, and come out the other side is great. Rose Chong
the queen of costumiers has been a very inspirational mentor to me. Rose has given me quite a few breaks over the years and also some very useful advice. Rose has a very unique way of getting what she wants out of people, it’s very effective and very charming. Also working for other women like Cathy Hope, Nevada Duffy and Tammy Kane has been fascinating. I love how different women approach running a business, everyone goes about it differently so I’ve definitely learnt from all the different people I’ve worked for.
Wearing my favorite dress from the Edgeley wardrobe – this cheeky ‘Silhouette’ dress which features a very Jessica rabbit loveheart-meets-hourglass glitter shape with matching loveheart on the derriere.
3. The ‘Edgeley babe’ aesthetic is immediately recognisable. What are the hallmarks of your design style? Are you responsive to your clients’ style, or are your design informed by media or your own imagination?
Alice: The hallmarks of my design style would be glamour. I adore glamour, kitsch, humour, comfort (a bit but not too much) and elegance. I like to think my pieces are cut well and that the textiles are good quality.
I do respond to my clients style, I often design with a friend or customer in mind. I have some customers with fantastic style so I’m always excited to see how they’ll wear something, how they accessorize etc.
I’m not sure if my designs are informed by media, I hope not. I don’t read magazines or anything but I do watch a lot of old films and read a lot of books. I just finished Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
which was AMAZING but very odd.
RS. Do you have more creative and flourishing times when it comes to your design inspiration, and then sometimes periods of quiet? How do you deal with the occasional lulls ?
Alice: I get myself to sleep each night by designing outfits in my head, sometimes I’ll have to turn the light on and find paper to draw it on. If I’m having a lull in inspiration, I just have to find some exciting event on the calender then I can generally dream up something I want to wear to attend said event. Then make it. Otherwise I’ll visit an exhibition or get a new book to look at. I recently bought one on Stilettos. I sometimes design an outfit especially to go with a pair of shoes (often stilettos and often ones by Terry de Havilland
). Sometimes I brainstorm with Hanna Tusler who designs and makes the leather goods for my shop. She’s very glamorous and inspiring and we dream exciting outfits up together.
RS. Mastery of daily business economics, staffing and commerce are as important to a creative business as its product. Did the business side of things comes naturally to you? How would you recommend a new designer or creative go about their practice as a business?
Alice: I thought I’d enjoy the business side of things more than I do. It takes so much time and energy. There’s no point making an amazing dress if no one knows about it so marketing has been a huge learning experience. I completed a small business course before opening the shop and that helped. I learned how to do my bookwork on Excel etc. My advice to a new designer or creative would be to do a similar course. It’s so different to creating but just as important. It helps if you’ve worked in the industry. So if you want to sell clothes get a job selling clothes and research how people shop. Create systems, number or file everything. Email things to yourself. Get the best website possible. Make a calender of marketing tasks to do, make them fun for yourself, so relate them to things you like doing. I like researching old hollywood images and poodles and dancehall music and style, so I use them sometimes to tie in with promotional material.
RS. What can we expect from Edgeley A/W 14? Are there any particular trends or themes reflected in the new collection?
Alice: Edgeley A/W 14 will be very tactile, slinky, a bit glam rock, a bit cartoon, a bit school mame. I recently read a book by Dianne Brill called ‘Boys, Boobs and High Heels or how to get ready in just under 6 hrs’, so that has inspired me. Expect velvet catsuits, matching turbans, kinda Eartha Kitt lounging in front of an open fire playing with leopard kittens on a fur rug. Outfits for that of activity! If only winter was all about that…
7. Who is an ultimate Edgeley babe?
Any and every babe who wears Edgeley with fabulous style (and preferably big hair).
Alice (with her wonderfully big hair) and Rupert, magic-studio-wonderpoodle. Both are delightful, and we
recommend a visit to Edgeley
for something wicked to prance in at VAMFF