A few weeks ago I popped into a little studio in Marrickville to check out where the magic happens to create the fashion label Field House.
Field House is an Aussie label which is unique due to using natural fibre fabrics to create beautiful pieces for everyday wear.
I caught up with Michaela Cristallo the brain behind the label who probably describes her label much better, “Beautiful, natural, elegant, and easy-to-wear (effortless).”
It was pretty damn clear that she is very passionate about her choice in fabrics and of course her label:
When I put on a Field House piece, I think it automatically really transform you into feeling beautiful and ready to take on whatever you are about to do! Even just wearing them, you can just feel that you are wearing something really nice which does make a difference.
– Michaela (Field House)
We talked about using natural fibre fabrics, how she got her start designing and her inner nerd.
What is your background in design?
I actually started out when I finished school I did a Bachelor of Commerce, and used to work in marketing in the corporate world which I didn’t really enjoy that much because it was lacking creativity.
I became really interested in design and fashion, so I did the Diploma of Fashion Design at Ultimo TAFE which was completed in 2010. Ever since then I have been preparing to launch and coming up with the idea behind what my label will be about.
I launched Field House in September with my first collection for Summer (2012). I have really only just started, but the idea to do something like this has definitely been around for a few years before I even started studying fashion.
How long were you in Marketing before you thought “this isn’t for me”?
Probably a few months, I did a graduate program for an insurance company and within a few months I enrolled in a Fashion Design course. I just knew that it was really what I wanted to do.
What made you want to use only natural fibre fabrics?
Going through my course I really started to appreciate natural fibre fabrics, the more I started to understand what different fabrics were and get a feel for them, the more I gravitated towards natural fabrics. In my final range for TAFE I used all natural fabrics, that was the beginning of really appreciating them.
Between finishing TAFE and the launch of Field House I did a lot of research into the fashion industry and the impact of fabrics. It really gave me an appreciation for using recycled fabrics and organics is an important decision as a designer.
By the end of all that research, there was no choice for me I knew that if I was going to do a fashion label I wanted to do it that way and make a product that I was really proud of and believed in.
It feels great to wear and it looks great as well. There is a big difference between wearing a polyester top versus a silk top. It is also going to last a really long time in terms of the fabrication as well as styling.
What’s are some issues working with natural fibre fabrics?
The greatest problem is sourcing, there’s not a huge market for organic materials in Australia so there is a big cost factor which any designer using sustainable materials is going to have to bear somehow either through their price points or just through absorbing it themselves. I have had to source some of my fabrics overseas, although I would love to source everything locally it is not always possible.
In general they are great to work with but silk is the one thing that is a little bit more difficult to work with because the fabric moves around a lot as you are trying to work with it, manipulate it and cut it.
What have been some of your learnings after producing your first collection?
I have learnt that you really need to get yourself out there and you really have to promote yourself, at the start I did realise that. But at the start you kind of think ‘you will do a market then all of a sudden everyone is going to know who you are and there are so many people there.’ I think that it actually takes a really long time to build up a brand there are so many brands out there that people are flooded with choice, so I think that it is something that is going to take time and continual effort to get the name out there.
I have also gotten customer feedback, I think it is difficult at first as you have you’re own idea of what you think is a great piece or what you think will sell really well. You don’t really know until you get it in front of customers and when the girls try things on and you hear “this skirt is short for me.” You hear those kind of concerns that aren’t necessarily to do with the clothing itself but preferences. It’s really difficult as a designer you can’t have a piece fitting everyone perfectly.
What is your take on trends?
I don’t follow trends too rapidly.
I am not going to jump onto something just because all the other designers are doing it because it is not really true to the label or what I believe in. I do look at trends and I do take on a trend if I feel like it fits with Field House and what I believe in but in terms of actually coming up with the pieces I do design something to be worn for more than 1 season.
I design pieces to work really well with others, any of my pieces can be worn with each other as well as being integrated into someone’s wardrobe and work in a variety of ways whether it be dressed up or dressed down.
What trend would you like to see die?
I hate Leopard print!
I am not really a fan of any of the animal prints, in particularly Leopard print. It doesn’t appeal to my taste which is very loud and very full on.
The issue I have is that it is very fleeting, it is very obvious and it might be great for a few months but when Leopard print dies off – where do all the Leopard print things go? (to fashion heaven?). If no one is wearing them anymore they are either sitting at the bottom of someone’s closest or given away to the Op Shop. I think about that in terms of I would not want to put a piece out there that someone only wanted to wear briefly.
What is a trend that you would want to come back into style and bring into Field House?
I have always really loved high-waisted skirts. I like the 50’s style with the full skirt which I don’t think is really in at the moment.
the favouritesWhat is your favourite piece from the Spring/Summer collection?
I actually really love the scarf. I am a scarf person, so that is probably why.
They have sold quite well and they were limited edition as they were made entirely out of recycled textiles. It brings together all of the colours from the collection really well which it is nice to have something to tie it all together.
What is the most popular piece?
The Ambrosia shirts, I think they are good because you can wear it tucked in or out. I can wear it with jeans or a high-waisted skirt. It is a nice versatile piece. I think everyone needs a nice collared shirt for everyday.
It is also her favourite piece of clothing from her collection.
What can you tell us about the upcoming Autumn-Winter collection?
It is inspired by nature and the wilderness.
The wintery mountainess landscapes, getting back to nature with the idea of adventure and freedom. The colour palette of Winter that I am working with is browns, creams, and olive greens.
In terms of fabrics I will be staying true to all natural fibre fabrics and the combination of new and recycled.
What is the dream?
I would love to work on Field House full-time (she currently has a part-time job) and to grow my business to the point where it can fully support itself.
I would like to do bigger collections in the future – expand the pieces out so I have a rounded offering. Expand the size ranges so I can accommodate everyone from a 6 to a 14 (currently it is 8-12) as I know there are a lot of girls in both of those sizes that would love to wear the clothes.
the guilty pleasureReaders (like YOU!) of the ladida would know I love geekery. What is your guilty pleasure that may surprise us?
I guess I am a bit of a nerd.
I love libraries. I love books, collecting them and reading.
The whole idea of a library does excite me. I LOVE going to a new library. I did a library tour with someone and I took them to all of my favourite libraries.
So that’s quite strange I guess.
What is your favourite library?
I used to work in North Sydney, so North Sydney Library it is a really beautiful library, it is quite modern. They have a really big range of books, nice individual study areas with really beautiful windows and it is really sunny. I used to go there during my lunch break sometimes.
In terms of a specialist library , the Japan Foundation in the City have a library. It is quite small but it is very specialist so if you are looking for any books in Japanese, Japan or any aspect of Japanese culture they probably have Cosplay books.
You can find shop Field House online here
To get 50% off over at Field House use the code SUMMER50. The code is valid until 17 March 2013.
Images not tagged with the ladida are courtesy of Field House, the Japan Foundation and the adorable pug from DaPuglet