Fashion paradox puts Edmiston in the dress circle

LEONA EDMISTON is exasperated with the egos of some Australian fashion designers.

”Your customers have to want to spend their hard-earned money, so it really should be all about them,” Edmiston said yesterday. ”It shouldn’t be about how clever we are as designers, and the focus shouldn’t be on us being amazing with our dexterity.”

Over the 11 years since she founded her fashion brand, Edmiston has kept a flinty focus on the customers she designs for.

”It should be completely focused on what customers want, because if they don’t want it, they won’t buy it,” she said. ”That’s the real key to staying in business or not staying in business.”

The philosophy has served Edmiston well. The Oscar de la Renta of Australian fashion, she juggles 10 product lines, including apparel, footwear, handbags, children’s wear, hosiery and scented candles.

Two years ago she introduced Leona +, a range for sizes 16 to 22, again in response to customer feedback.

”From the start we always went up to a size 16 and often size 16 was the quickest size to sell out,” Edmiston said. ”We tried [selling] it online first, because the structure and pattern gradings are quite different but once we felt we knew what we were doing we brought it into store.”

Edmiston last night staged her brand’s first solo catwalk show in six years with a presentation to 150 guests at Pelicano Bar in Double Bay.

The designer traditionally holds intimate media previews of her new spring summer collection in April but this year decided to move back to August, when the clothes are actually available in stores.

”It’s a way to kick off the spring summer season and show all our ladies what will be coming into store,” she said. ”It’s reminding them that now is the time to look at spring and get excited about the new season.”

Oversize kaftans, vibrant prints, maxi-dresses and cocktail options were among the 32 looks she presented in the show that concluded with a performance by Katie Noonan.

The presentation was but a snapshot of the 100-odd pieces in the full range that will be stocked in Edmiston’s 30 boutiques around the country, including standalone stores and concessions in Myer.

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