As the door creaks open to reveal the inside of a chic Surry Hills terrace, I am greeted by a stunning, tall, blonde with a welcoming smile. The woman standing before me is Gemeli Power; a dynamic and vibrant young designer determined to conquer the Australian fashion scene with her made-to-order evening, resort and swim wear.
Power's signature evening wear is inspired by haute couture and theatrical dress. Her gowns appeal to the sophisticated, stylish and daring young woman; they unleash the seductress within.
Illustrating her diversity as a designer and drawing inspiration from the colour and designs of her evening wear collection, Power recently launched her diffusion lines Jimmy Lee Beach Club and Jimmy Lee Swim. These are designed for clientele seeking glamorous swim and resort wear to wear in the corridors and poolside at a magnificent hotel (think the Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France).
All of Power's designs are made in Australia and can be custom made in various colours and fabrics. The personalisation of her designs, which are exclusively modified to the requirements of each customer, allow her to offer a point of difference in an oversaturated market of mass-produced product.
I interviewed this energetic, driven and passionate designer about her label, style influencers and aspirations.
A: I grew up in New Zealand and always anticipated spending a lot of time travelling. I studied Art in my homeland, where I majored in Fashion Design, and then, after graduating, spent five years travelling the world from my base in London. I never wanted to leave Europe but I didn't hold a passport that enabled me to stay!
My move to Australia was quite a natural progression for me. I have always loved Australia, as I visited many times growing up and because my very special grandfather lives here.
Q: When did you found your label and what was the motivation behind its creation?
A: I moved to Sydney two years ago and within a year launched my label. It was always going to happen. The time felt right - I was focused and settled.
Q: Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
A: Not always. I was absolutely set on becoming a marine biologist before going into design, but before I could even blink an eye I had graduated in Art!
Q: What makes your label stand out?
A: My label is quite unique for many reasons:
Firstly, it is very personal as my customers are able to collaborate with me (one-on-one) to create their selected garment. This experience is typical of a much higher price point [Power's dresses start from $399 AUD] and is often only offered by very high end, established couture labels. I wanted to re-create this experience with a more accessible and affordable but, of course, fashionable product.
Secondly, my dresses are sensibly priced and therefore available to a wider demographic (for example, formal students are amongst my largest sales). For bridal parties, red-carpet events or requests for more luxurious garments, I often replace jersey with pure silk and opulent fabrics at a higher cost. The varying price point of my brand helps me to reach a greater consumer base.
Thirdly, I offer a broad colour palette for my custom made creations - over 30 colours are available in every design. The colour combinations and fabric compositions offered are endless.
Fourthly, the entire process for creating a garment is carried out in Sydney - from the initial design to completion of the product.
And…finally, my garments have a VERY prompt turnaround for made to order. They are often delivered in one week and sometimes, where extremely urgent, within 24 hours!
Q: What inspires your designs?
A: Travel is by far the most inspirational aspect in my life. It helps me to develop distinctive aesthetics, which I feed into my designs. It also provides me with an expansive and unique perspective that enables me to generate a multitude of design ideas.
Q: Is every one of your designs made to order?
A: Yes, every single garment or piece of swimwear available for purchase on my website is made to order. Everything is customised, right down to the width of our waistbands, the length and positioning of the splits, the choice of colour and fabric compositions.
Q: What is the couture technique you use to create your signature garments and what does this involve?
A: I often use a traditional French technique called Moulage, as the basis of my creation stage. I mould the fabric directly onto the model before a pattern is cut. This process allows me to create garments in three dimensions, rather than one.
Q: Can you tell me more about Jimmy Lee Beach Club and Jimmy Lee Swim?
A: These diffusion lines are designed for a market that is looking for fun and colourful swim and resort wear. Both Jimmy Lee Beach Club and Jimmy Lee Swim are also made to order, which is important to me, especially for swimwear, because so many women take different sized separates.
Q: Describe your personal style.
A: I don't like to follow strict trends. My style is diverse and can range from very feminine and classic to sporty chic. I like to purchase high-quality, classic items that are timeless and mix them up with simple basics. I don't really care what other people think. If I like a look, I wear it regardless of whether its 'branché!'
Q: Who or what are your style influencers?
A: The late Alexander McQueen, Alexander McQueen and Alexander McQueen!!!!
Q: What is the one 'must have' fashion item you can't live without?
A: My orange Celine tote.
Q: Besides your label, what else in life are you most passionate about?
A: I am a huge family person. I love travel, my beautiful pets, friends, food, fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. I grew up living near the ocean, so that is important to me too.
Q: What's next for you?
A: I have clearly set my goals and know what my path is in life. The most important thing to me is that I continue to enjoy the journey. I think an important aspect of living life is to stay true to yourself, rather than making comparisons with others. I feel excited about the future!
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