Cast your eye over some of these pieces from Country Road’s new range of office/life separates – a continuation of its first return to workwear in over a decade, hurrah – then tell us honestly you don’t feel a little fashion deja vu.
Those relaxed fluid lines, that languid form, those elegantly polished silhouettes in statement earthy tones as filled with brazen attitude as they are easy on the eye. Remind you of any other iconic Aussie brands?
If you said Kirrily Johnston or Willow (R.I.P) during its glorious heyday pre Kit’s departure, you’d be closer to the mark than you might realise – and for good reason. Country Road womenswear designer Nimmi Premaratne spent many years working alongside both women and credits them for shaping her creative bent and soft spot for beautiful fabrics.
“I’ve been at Country Road in Melbourne for two years now, but I used to be a Sydney girl,” the 35-year-old told GRAZIA. “I worked as a senior designer for Willow and Kirrily Johnston before that for years and years.
“I think both of those brands definitely formulated me as a designer and I’ll always have that aesthetic and handwriting, which is nice. I love Kit and I love Kirralee – both of them as individual women have shaped me.”
Not to say the range full of architectural dresses, tailored jackets, wide-legged puddle pants, bell-sleeved silk blouses and military gold detailing are copies of anything that’s come before – but her career heritage does explain the utterly un-corporate and approach she’s taken with this affordable mix and match collection intended for working women.
“When you’ve designed with such a high echelon of fabric you’re always going to carry that with you,” she explained of her insistence on securing high-level materials for the high street brand.
“This is not your traditional ugly polyester,” she said, stroking a sharp-looking black blazer that hung next to a set of matching cigarette pants and pencil shirts from the range. “It’s a beautiful Japanese technical poly that you can wash.
“I mean, when can you ever wash a suit jacket?”
Creating a work-life wardrobe for women that’s slick enough for a boardroom and edgy enough for weekend cocktails on a hot date is no simple feat for a fashion designer. Permaratne has done both – but given her track record, that should come as little surprise.