Designer Profile: Gail Reid Talks Italian Influences, Kubrick and The Balance Of Opposites

As a sometime model, stylist and designer behind cult womenswear label Gail Sorronda, Gail Reid is perpetually up in the air, juggling multiple projects and dividing her time between Paris, Brisbane and Milan. Case in point: She recently showed her SS/11 collection Murmur at Sydney’s RAFW and now has her sights set on Milan after being announced as a finalist in Vogue Italia’s prestigious Who’s on Next competition. Still, despite her busy schedule, lack of sleep and penchant for globetrotting, Reid found the time to chat to Pedestrian about her new collection Murmur, doing as the Romans do and her Kubrick-esque vision of Utopia.

Congratulations on your latest collection it’s pretty unreal! What was the inspiration behind the collection? Well, I guess its always hard to talk about it after the collection is done because all of the time you’re constantly thinking about things and developing ideas in your head and then finally creating work based on an accidental response to something you are subconsciously taking in at the time. I guess you could say I have always been really curious about people being these drones that fight off their instinctual human tendencies. For me, with the collections and the brand in general, it’s always about playing with opposites and equal reactions, so often I’m trying to create a dialogue based upon that philosophy. I’ve always been inspired by those sorts of ideas, and with Murmur I explored that through the collection, like the hand detailing, which I felt was really organic, embroidered onto cotton tulle contrasted with oversized metal buckles or accessories to create an industrial feel. Having said that, I think Murmur captured a much more serious mood than my previous collections, and I always like to interject some comedy so then I’ll attach some pom-poms and give the collection that playful feel because its important for me to have that opposition.

As you said your collections always seem to have that hint of playfulness – is it important for you to inject an element of comedy into what is quite a serious industry? Yeah I would say it is important and usually I do it through the styling of the collection or the accessories to unhinge it a bit. I find you are always introducing another way of thinking with each new collection, and I like to turn the page by always having an element of playful voyeurism with everything I create.

So key pieces? Any favourites? I really liked my last look that was part of the white series that Daniel Johns’ girlfriend [Louise Van De Vorst] wore in the show. It had this beaded headpiece and the dress had a white tutu styled with it and all together it was all fluffy and white. I actually made that one myself but unfortunately its not going to go into production because it couldn’t be resolved. I pretty much just ended up sending the toile down the runway and we’ve got another show in Rome soon, and I’ll definitely be sending it down again!

So speaking of Rome, you’re a finalist in Vogue Italia’s Who’s on Next competition, where you could be showing at Milan Fashion Week alongside some of the world’s greats. Coming from Brisbane, and now being here – I mean, does it feel surreal? Well Who’s on Next was actually something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. I actually heard about it in Paris and followed a few of the designers that went through it and went to the shows, and then one thing lead to another and I just got involved in it. I guess it is weird though, if you think about something for long enough it’s like you’re already working towards it, from the moment you thought of it, and then it takes on this natural progression on its own and before you even know it, you don’t even realize where you are because you don’t track every step that took you there. It kind of just happens? Its never like “oh wow, you’re here”, because subconsciously, you’ve always been working towards it.

In Murmur, I noticed some injections of European, especially Italian influence. Did this happen organically for you? Yeah it’s really strange, because I actually started to notice it myself and I realized that I am actually really attentive to my environment and surroundings. Each collection for me is like a diary and its documenting that time and moment, and I noticed when I lived in Paris, I felt like my collections reflected that sort of femininity and things that I admired and even though it was still all my work, you could feel the influence and the shift – an environmental shift. And when I spent a lot of time in Italy with my Italian friends and developers, I felt another shift and the collection became sexier and you can definitely feel the Italian influence, which you only notice in hindsight after the collection is done. When I come back to Australia though, I always add extra pieces to the collection because there’s a different silhouette everywhere you go, and there are things you find that link people together and other things that set us all geographically apart. I don’t know, I am still learning about all this stuff though; it’s all really interesting.

What do we have to expect from you now and for the future? I’m not sure, just thinking about different things all the time like I said before, different influences and thoughts. I’m developing things now and I guess I will see where things take me and what happens with the next set of influences. Who knows what could be just around the corner!

Describe your ideal world. It would definitely be bi-polar! And everyone would be on their own time! Time would become an artificial construct and as everyone might already know, I’m always fighting the compulsion to meet my own time so ideally in a Utopian sense, there would be no concept of time. It would also be a bit fucked up like a Kubrick film, and a little bit David Lynch, but primarily it would be like something called a resource-based society where I would vanquish all monetary systems and instead you would exchange your talents so everyone would be working towards an actualization of realizing one’s self, no paper-shufflers – just creative potential.

So, like a world of creative anarchy? Yeah but creativity can mean a lot of things, so as long as you are evolving as a human being and not fighting the system, because in my world there would be no systems in place. Oh! And I’m crazy about Zeitgeist! Zeitgeist 2 is the one with the resource-based society – you should Google it and totally post it on Pedestrian!

[Ed Note: As you wish Gail.]

By Angela Jhang

All Images Provided by Gail Reid