Since childhood, Magdalena has been immersed in creativity. Her mother an architect and father a musician, Magdalena's interest and inquiry into the arts was fostered from an early age. “I had piano lessons from the age of five and I later sang and did ballet and jazz. I was always drawing and I made my first shirt when I was nine years old,” she reflects. Born in Macedonia, Magdalena and her family migrated to Australia when she was 11. “The move gave me a sense of maturity from a very early age,” she says. “It also made me driven and highly ambitious" - two qualities that are integral to success in the fashion industry.
Magdalena's first encounter with the fashion world was in high school, where she completed a week of work experience with Zimmermann in 1996. The week coincided with Australia’s first fashion week, and the teenage Magdalena was instantly seduced by what she saw. “I was in bliss attending fittings, castings, makeup and hair trials and, finally, watching the show,” she says. “It was slightly unrealistic of me to think that every week in the fashion industry would be as intense and exciting, but I loved every minute of it!” This experience set in stone her desire to become a designer, and a few years later she graduated from Sydney’s University of Technology with a Fashion and Textiles degree, when she was selected to obtain a year’s representation by Fast Lane PR after the graduate show.
Velevska gained experience working for numerous Australian designers (Akira Isogawa, Pablo Vevada, Wayne Cooper, Nicola Finetti, Lisa Ho, Third Millenium) before launching her own label in 2009 to realise her vision. “This was definitely one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made,” she says, reflecting back on her career, adding that a highlight so far would be seeing her name on the Rosemount Australia Fashion Week schedule and on the racks of Myer. Knowing what she knows now, we wonder what Magdalena wished someone had told her when she was only starting out. “To have complete confidence in my work and to trust my own instincts. To be less cautious and much more brave,” she answers, perhaps hoping that this advice will be transferred on to today’s up-and-comers.
Magdalena is quick and concise in describing the ‘Magdalena Velevska woman’. “She is coloured with urban, clean and refined attributes and represents a new age of modernism and curiosity. These qualities allow her to sustain the dynamic and speed of current times,” she says. This description of her consumer correlates perfectly with her latest collection, which sees these ‘urban’, ‘clean’ and ‘refined’ qualities come to life through delicate palettes, pleating detail and soft shapes.
Titled Dovetail, the Autumn Winter 2011 collection draws its inspiration from “the shapes, techniques and colours” found in Native American Indian quilt making. Bouncing off the thematical concern of flora and fauna often depicted in this craft, Magdalena was inspired to use the dove as a running motif throughout the range. “Many garments follow the lines of a dove tail shown through inverted pleating, front gathering and drapes,” she adds. A clover print also reoccurs throughout the range, another reference to quilt making. While she is one to carve out her own aesthetics regardless of the sartorial climate, Magdalena did draw from one aspect seen in the season’s trends: “bold colour worn back with a neutral camel.”
Although it is safe to say that Magdalena has very much made fashion her life, we are curious as to what other turns she could see her life taking. “If I weren’t in fashion, I’d be a furniture designer,” she tells us, which makes sense considering her eye for colour, proportion and detail. “My eye is always fascinated by unconventional shapes and dimensions. I guess this is similar to the way I work on the Magdalena Velevska collections.”
While she may not be Australian-born, Magdalena is recognised as an addition to the Australian fashion industry and likewise appreciates what her Sydney surrounds have to offer. “I took a combined design class at university and it was about the personality of Global Nomads, and in particular the personality of their children. Having moved at a very impressionable age in my life, I guess you feel a certain place is your home, and that then changes, so you never quite feel at home,” she tells us. “I love Sydney, it is my home for now and it's where I work from. It’s a young city and I feel it gives a chance to many young people to work on what they enjoy most.”
words: Ingrid Kesa