We chatted with the beautiful Bridget Messner from LIFE with BIRD, one of our most favourite Australian labels who are known for their clean and tailored aesthetic. Bridget spoke to us about her design process, advice on starting a label, and the inspiration behind the latest AW15 collection, SURFACE.
When was the moment that you realised you were creative?
I feel creativity has always been part of my DNA. I loved playing dress ups with my sister Alice (Alice McCall), and creating costumes out of bits of fabric. My mum was a fashion designer so she taught us how to sew from an early age, and that the possibilities were endless with a pair of scissors, bit of fabric and a sewing machine. Growing up I used to make clothes for my dolls and barbies, and later in high school I made my formal dresses with my mums help. My year 12 formal dress was an adaptation of a Tom Ford Gucci cut out dress that I loved. I had the magazine pages of fashion campaigns all over my bedroom wall at the time and was obsessed with all the iconic 90s fashion houses and models.
Did you try any other careers or projects before your current profession became successful?
I went straight on to study photography at PSC in Melbourne. I spent three years full time there and loved the course and finished with a diploma of photography. My assignments were mostly fashion focused and I used to shoot all the RMIT students clothes for their final assessments so the crossover with fashion was always there. I then went on to be an assistant stylist which I really enjoyed. When I met Nick within a few months of dating we started LIFEwithBIRD. I kept styling and also worked retail to make ends meet while we got the label off the ground over the next three years.
What is your go-to snack?
Fruit at the moment. I’m pregnant and craving lots of stone fruit in particular. I also have cravings for cherry ripe bars or any chocolate I can get my hands on!
What are three items that you always carry with you?
Phone, notebook and sunglasses.
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
Not really. I do believe in the power of positive thinking though and that anything is possible. My husband and business partner Nick is my rock. He astounds me everyday with his talent and drive which makes me want to strive and conquer constantly.
What is one piece of advice for someone wishing to pursue a career in fashion design?
Be prepared to work hard, be a sponge through work experience, and not put too much pressure on yourself. It’s a really hard industry, but if you are willing to do these things you’ll find what makes you happy once you have allowed yourself time to learn and grow.
What is your favourite flower?
I love white peonies but they’re only around for two months of the year. I also love white freesias which have such a beautiful subtle perfume.
What is your signature scent?
Comme des Garcons Series 1: Lily. It is so light and refreshing. I always come back to this scent.
When you design, who are you designing for?
We have two lines that we design for seasonally. The main ready-to-wear collection which we see as the empowered, bold and confident woman, and the LWB line which has a wardrobe staples and layering kind of feel to it. Both collections have their own signature and when designing we come up with the direction of the range, the colour palette and fabrications, and then map out the range plan. Its quite a methodical process. We start by placing the must-have silhouettes for the season and then building the range around it. So its not really about a specific person as much as its about a mood or a story that we want to tell for the season.
What skills are important to start your own fashion label?
Focus, patience, determination.
For your most recent collection, where did you draw inspiration from?
SURFACE AW15 looked at building materials and under layers of construction and architecture. We were really inspired by the textures and fabrications we utilised down to their core, how the fibres were constructed, and how we could manipulate the garments through clever pattern making and illuminate seams or darts. What becomes apparent on the surface may not actually be as simple as it looks.
Name a designer, past or present, that you admire?
Maison Martin Margiela, who is one of the avantgardists who in the 90s was doing his own thing. He and the Antwerp six were so inspiring to us when we started our label. Pushing boundaries and deconstructing in ground breaking ways.
Describe your design aesthetic in three words?
Controlled, Clean, Concept-driven.
What do you love most about being a designer?
The process and the journey. Its still amazes me when I see something that started off as an idea come to life and worn by someone who appreciates it.