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Romance in all its Forms: Gail Sorronda

Okay, okay, so we know she’s not from Sydney, but once you’re an Australian in Paris, you could be from anywhere, really… plus, it’s hard to resist the chance to interview one of the country’s best designers. Originally from Brisbane and back in her hometown for a short stint until next year’s Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, it’s no wonder why designer Gail Reid of Gail Sorronda is keen to return to the land of romance. Her clothes are the visual representation of the story Paris would tell if it could, saturated with unyielding femininity and extravagant fables from an unspoilt world – one that, incidentally, only exists in the imagination. Gail extracts her own reveries into each collection she delivers, allowing such fantasies to exist not only in the mind, but on the body as well.

Exploring the space between the lines and the shadows within them, Gail’s most recent collection for Autumn Winter 2010, Black Chalk, is a play on volume, line and texture. Girlishly elegant and elusively sensual, the collection defies the notion of classic shapes and broadens the bracket with a redefinition of exquisite figures and silhouettes. Staying true to the label’s black and white aesthetic, Black Chalk proves clothes don’t need colour to be elaborate.

Gail Reid didn’t grow up wanting to be a designer. In fact, she still didn’t know that fashion was her calling when she got in to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (fashion) at Queensland University of Technology. Inspired by Yohji Yamamoto and Courreges early on, she began selling accessories to different shops as a hobby while she was studying, on top of her jobs in various retail stores and freelance styling.

“I used to get a buzz from sourcing materials, the creative process and finding out what different people responded to,” she says.

That buzz turned into a full-blown passion, and escalated when she won the Mercedez-Benz Start-Up Award with her graduate collection in 2005, which allowed her to show at Australian Fashion Week for the first time. Fast track nearly five years later and Gail can’t imagine her life without her label.

“I don’t know otherwise or any different anymore,” she says.
“Gail Sorronda is so much a part of my life it’s defining. It is weird to think I created this monster (in nature).”

The trick to her standout collections is that she designs based on what she likes, not for the rest of the (at times homogenous) world. She says that seeing the first sample she is really happy with is enough to put the time and financial parameters that come with being a designer aside.

“I often design pieces that I want to wear, and for that reason maybe I can be an extrovert,” she says.
“I’m thinking about a feeling relevant to that time. Each season is a new chapter to my visual diary.”

Her current entry is going to see Gail returning briefly to Paris in January for development before she comes back to get ready for fashion week. As predicted, Paris has been a compelling muse for her, one which provided the background to her Spring Summer collection, Invasive Exotics, which Sydneysiders can find at The Corner Shop, The Marnie Skillings Boutique, Tuchuzy Bondi and Little Flirt.

“It’s nice to be back amongst familiarity, but in saying that, feeling uncomfortable is often what inspires me,” says Gail.

Using herself as an example, she claims that prospects in the industry are, in actuality, vast. Or at the very least, they can be.

“There’s a misconception that is there is limited opportunities in the industry,” says Gail.
“If you’re willing to work hard, be proactive and persistent and do it for the right reasons, you will create your own opportunities.”

Gail Reid

words: Seema Duggal


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