Laurie Osborne raps with Australian fashion visionary, Alexia Blake, and gets the warp and weft on her creative process. Photo: Jason Reposar.
How long have you been based here in Bali?
I’ve been here almost a decade. It’s gone so quickly. I really didn’t intend to stay for so long. My next-door neighbour and I started a fashion line together, selling in Australia and kept coming back to Bali for production. Eventually, I dropped out of college and fashion became footware, then swimwear, knitwear and now homeware.
How has the industry changed since you’ve been here?
It was a different world then. There were so many boutique designers. Australia was booming so you’d come up with a range to take back, and people would just buy. It didn’t really matter what you were selling.
It all changed dramatically when the global economic crisis hit. It forced us to restructure our businesses and adapt to the way the world was moving. These days, you need a lot of money behind you, and it’s very competitive. I walk into Topshop and Zara and I don’t know how they’re producing it for that price, let alone retailing. I think the way to go now is to have your own online shop so you don’t have the same overheads and you’re trading on your own terms.
Do you find that the Island of the Gods directly inspires your work?
Bali is not very different to where I’m originally from, which is Papua New Guinea. My grandparents were British ex-pat plantation owners that would eventually move to Australia. The society parties that I grew up with had that tropical linen feel to them, and today I use a lot of those colours in my collections of textiles and soft furnishings.
I want Meraki Home to give the customer a taste of another culture. I’m inspired a lot by Morocco, India and Turkey. I went on a trip to Nepal last year, which was amazing. I kept losing it over the beautiful coloured textiles. They give me this indescribable feeling that makes me want to interpret the colours and patterns in my own designs. Ultimately, I’m not looking for sales numbers, I’m looking to create something that inspires someone else and changes the environment that they live in.
Can you take me through your creative process?
My dad’s an artist as well, and he would always say, “We don’t own our artwork, we channel it. It comes into us, and it’s our responsibility to get it out.” When I’m working on a range, I pour everything into it and I get so much from it. Some people are like antennae. What goes in comes out as some kind of creative expression. I’m inspired by everything around me, and that’s been broadened by the access we have through the internet.
Do you find that the internet is accelerating the fashion zeitgeist?
For sure … there are often six fashion ranges a year now. It’s hard to keep up. If you’re a designer, it’s just hectic all the time, but I think we like it like that. We’re all a little eccentric in a way.
Which materials are you most drawn to?
I use mostly 100 per cent linen, and cotton with a bit of texture to it. At the moment, I’m able to source all materials locally. In Bali, you can come up with an idea and have it in front of you by the end of the week, which is incredibly gratifying for a designer. You can literally transform a thought into something physical.
At the moment, I’m in production on a new collection called Marrakesh, inspired by the city’s markets and fabrics. There’s also another side to the collection called Belinda which is inspired by my aunt – a beautiful high-society woman. As a child, I remember her home in Ascot, Brisbane, was filled with linens, baby-blues and vases of fresh flowers. It was a very tropical place, with lots of black-and-white stripes.
Are there any other projects out there on your horizon?
For me, Meraki Home is like a lovechild. It’s a great creative outlet, but I’ve also got a project I’m doing with 7shores, which is a French surf company. We’re re-launching the whole brand so I’m doing men’s, women’s, textiles, graphics, everything. I might be spreading myself a bit thin because I’ve also started a new bikini line called Islakiini.
Who do you spend your time with when you’re not being an antenna?
Most of my friends are in the fashion industry. We’ve all got kids together now, and we’re blessed to have a tight-knit community. It’s one of the things that really keeps me in Bali. In Oz, you have “mateship”, but my friends here are like my family. It’s hard for any of us to leave. We call it “The Bali Curse”. I’ve tried three times in the last year, but I always end up back here.