Kaylene Milner is the designer behind Sturm and Drang, one of the graduates from TAFE chosen to present at MBFWA as part of the Innovators show. Not only is she crazy talented with an incredible design aesthetic that is quite forceful and attention-grabbing without resorting to theatrics or gimmicks, she is also an award-winner. She recently won a scholarship to intern at Diane Von Furstenburg in New York for 3 months and she jets off next week. Hannah-Rose from Capture the Castle caught up with Australian fashion design's next-big-thing to hear about all her plans for the future.
Congratulations on just showing your collection, and on your award! Thank you.
Tell us about the award. I'm still coming to terms with it. It's a $15 000 prize that is a global mentorship program. I'll be going to New York to intern with Diane Von Furstenburg for 3 months and then I can stay on there, if they'll have me, or go to Europe. The possibilities are endless.
What is the aesthetic of your label Sturm and Drang? I always say that it is feminine without being girly, strong without being masculine. Really just the sort of clothes that I would want to wear. Nothing overly fitted, nothing too short. Just great high-quality fabrics and techniques, almost couture-like techniques, which I just love that a garment can have so much care put into it. At this stage in my career it's relevant but maybe in the future I'll have to find some sort of happy balance.
You use a lot of natural textures like wool, leather and.. what was it on that dress, was it pony skin? Yes I used some pony skin and springbok in this range. 100% of my range is all natural fibres or regenerated. It's just nicer to wear. When it comes down to it I'd prefer to be wearing silks and linens than anything synthetic.
For me it's almost this sense of a primal, almost primitive, aesthetic. Well this collection definitely, it was influenced by tribal things and textures in the forrest. So it was kind of inevitable that that would happen.
Definitely! I got a real caveman vibe from it with all those different pieces of leather pieced together. Like that last dress with the inserts. That's kind of become the poster piece for the collection. The iconic piece of the range! *Laughs*
What was it like showing at fashion week? It all came and went in a bit of a blur. The exposure has been great, and even today I've made so many connections and spoken to so many people and just to be able to meet those people within the industry has been fantastic. I wouldn't have got that normally so I'm so grateful.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring designers? Your time at TAFE or university or even studying by yourself, you should always continue to research and continue to learn because that is the only way to stay relevant and fresh.
What are your hopes for the future of your label? I'm hoping to start producing a few things on a small scale. Maybe not straight away, I need to learn a few things about the production side of the industry first. But maybe in 5 years time or something I can start to build it up. I want to have my own label and be my own creative director.
What do you think is the intersection between social media and the fashion industry and design in particular? It's so inter-twined now, I don't know how anyone can escape it. It's nice to have that support from bloggers. That's who is getting our work out there the most.
Have you got a blog or anything yourself? I used to have a blog before I studied fashion with my best friend. It was really fun, she lived in Wollongong and I lived in Sydney so it was a way for us to talk to each other. We just talked about fashion and things we didn't understand and it was very naive and fun.
Don't worry, if you look back through the archives to my first post. It's quite hilarious. It's just about poetry and how poetry is related to fashion and how much I love poetry. *Laughs* We were just talking about Mondrian references in YSL and thinking we were really artistically relevant. And the worst outfit posts ever. *Laughs* We had an Ashish outfit challenge once, and I actually double-sided taped pom poms down the side of a black pair of pants, with a fur sweater and a Zebra jacket that did not match at all. It was very over the top. That was the highlight.
What are you looking forward to most about New York? There are so many people I want to meet when I'm over there I'm really excited. One of my personal favourite bloggers Andrew Mukamal, I'm going to meet up with him, which I think will be so much fun.
He's awesome. He's amazing. I love watching his videos because they remind me about why I got into fashion in the first place - because it seemed like a more fun option than anything else. But you get really caught up in the business side of things sometimes so it's so refreshing to see someone who has so much passion for it. He gives the impression of living in this fantastic, fun, fashion-driven world.
I was going to ask you what you're going to do next week to relax but you're going to New York in five days! I'm hoping the flight is kind of relaxing. Usually I would be so organised. I'm intending on making a new wardrobe before I leave because I have no clothes for a New York summer. I'm a winter girl. I made these shorts last night, so I have some silk shorts to wear to work. That's it!