Q&A with Harman Grubisa

22 September 2014
By Fashion Quarterly


We chat to Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubisa, the designers behind the up-and-coming womenswear label.

How did you first get interested in fashion design?

Jessica: I was born into it. From five-years-old my school diaries said I wanted to be a fashion designer when I grew up. I have been surrounded by family who have worked in the industry.

Madeleine: I started at ELAM, had a stint studying social work, until I finally gave into what I really wanted to do, I interned with several local designers and moved on to my third and final degree – fashion design.

What’s your aesthetic and what kind of woman do you design for?

J: It’s really important to us that it’s beautiful above all else. We design for a woman who is quality over quantity, she knows what she wants but isn’t afraid to try something new.

What’s it like collaborating as designers? What’s your design process?

M: The design process is the heart of the collaboration, and we function exceptionally well as a design duo. Our design processes as individuals differs slightly, Jessica will often put pen to paper and source fabrics to fit the design, often I will be drawn to a fabric and that is the impetus for the style.

We make decisions quickly and we often start with a moodboard of images and fabrics, which we pull key themes or silhouettes from. For example – SS15 was about painterly colour effects, which turned to earthy tones, we were interested in the bell shape which we applied to sleeves and skirts. It snowballs somewhat, but by the end we have resolved styles that Jess and I are both passionate about and that we feel will fit into our womens lifestyle.

Can you tell us about your latest collection?

J: It’s called All that Matters, our debut Spring Summer collection. It’s well considered – super-feminine clothing. There’s no room for error being a new label and we don’t want to produce anything that is poorly made. We produce handmade shoes, these also featured, they’re beautiful and we had a great response.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

M: That we can do it! We are extremely privilidged to be able to pursue beautiful things that women wear everyday.

J: The coolest part of it is working with different people within the industry. I also love our overseas sourcing trips, trawling through weird and wonderful fabrics and trims.

What would we find if we had a peek through your handbags?

M: Diary, Sans lip balm (love it), half a dozen lipsticks, panadol, sunglasses (three pairs in there at the moment), phone, wall…with a credit card in it if I’m lucky. I’m notourious for leaving it lying around!

J: A PAID stamp, a diary, a LV wallet, Stolen Girlfriends eyewear, always a litre of water, mini shop wrappers – I love miniature things –  and cigarettes. An array of MAC makeup.

Where does your inspiration come from?

J: Everywhere, inspiration can come from anything. Friends, fashion, food. It’s not one thing, it’s always changing.

Who’s your style icon?

M: Tricky. So many wonderfully dressed women in the world…the Italians and French seem to do it best. I think Carine Roitfeild is a genius, and Anna Dello Russo – the world could do with some more Annas. I am also a bit of an Olsen twin fan…they have busy schedules and their work doesn’t demand a specific dress code. They’re creative and modest with what they wear which is refreshing.

J: Kim Kardashian.

What advice would you give someone who’s keen to get into fashion design?

M: It can be a cruel mistress. I would spend some time in a workroom/workplace – whether that be the studio side of it, editorial or retail. There are so many different facets. Studying fashion design will allow you to explore your design style and learn useful construction insights and so on, but design is only a small part of your job in most cases. I would explore as many different aspects of fashion to see what resonates with you.

J: Either find a design equal and work together, or intern, intern, intern. Work experience will give a first-hand look into what you are in for.

What are your workplace wardrobe staples?

M: White shirts, black pants, leather pencil skirt, anything silk from SS15, merino turtle necks – I have our current Russo and Lamonte knits on repeat.

J: My Daily jacket and Pure shirt from our SS15 collection, a woolen mini, my Kenzo Vans, jeans, we don’t have a formal workplace, so how I dress from work often goes from day to night to weekend…

Who are some of your fave designers?

M: Love Marni, Ann Demulemeester when she was still designing, Phoebe Philo – wherever she goes!

J: Muccia Prada, Dries Van Noten, Phillip Lim at the moment…

Where do you see the label in five years’ time?

M: In women’s wardobes all around the world.

J: Everywhere.

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