Each month Cocktail Revolution features an exciting new fashion designer. This month’s “Revolutionary of the Month” is Tamara Leacock, a native New Yorker and Yale graduate who now calls Melbourne home. Tamara’s eco-friendly label REMUSE is designed and manufactured in her Collingwood studio using certified organic materials wherever possible. Sustainability and ethical production are key. Garnering increasing attention, Tamara’s cruelty free label appeared at Melbourne Fashion Week a few months ago and will feature at a VAMFF interactive runway in March.
How and when did you get into fashion as a business?
I started three years ago about a year after moving to Melbourne, but had begun my career in fashion interning and apprenticing with various boutique and Indie labels in New York. There I assisted stylists and editors at publications such as Harper’s Bazaar en Español and Women’s Wear Daily London.
Tell us about the name.
REMUSE is the idea of refashioning your identity to become your own muse. So often we seek inspiration outside of ourselves when that intangible, well nourished, essence within is truly, I feel, the most iconic.
You’ve been quoted as drawing inspiration from the earth. Can you elaborate?
My designs, design lines, colour palette and material choices stem from a focus on biomimicry. That is, inspiration from the natural, erratic aesthetics of nature. Wherever possible, I’m choosing material and production practices that are certified low impact and organic. The Earth, its cycles in the solar system and the materials which we sometimes integrate into our dyes, make up our work.
You are known for engaging a community of artisans via the Social Studio. How did this collab come about?
My relationship with The Social Studio began when I styled their Block Party runway in 2015 before I began REMUSE. After that runway, Andrea Philippou invited me to stock my pieces with them. I haven’t yet had my pieces manufactured there, but have stocked there for about a year. Currently I’m creating a piece for their 10 year anniversary which I am excited to be a part of. It has been a wonderful centre of diversity and creativity and I’m always happy to support their work and efforts.
What are the benefits and challenges of ethically producing trans-seasonal pieces?
The benefits are that clients can continue to add pieces to their wardrobe and they can remain forever relevant and travel as they do. The challenges are facing the competitive edge of large production fast fashion entities that often have more capital behind their businesses than smaller, ethical producers. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t produce any other way.
Favourite type of fabric to work with?
Organic calico. It is amazing to dye with and keeps such a beautifully slightly crushed texture.
You produce small collections. How often?
I release them quarterly around the time of each solstice and equinox. This latest release Micología II is my second mycology inspired collection. (The first was released around the June Solstice of 2017.) It is inspired by the beauty in biodiversity and the importance of the fungi kingdom, decomposition and biodegradability to the continuing of life itself.
Tell us about the growth of your label.
My label began as a set of eight pieces that I photographed on the beach with friends. It’s currently stocked in five stores, with a beautiful community of repeat customers. It also has a private studio space where we house our manufacturing, and an award from PETA as Vegan Designer to Watch. It’s also been recognized by Vogue Australia alongside stepping into our second VAMFF Arts Program self-produced show. We are still growing, certainly, but can appreciate how far we’ve come from an idea.
What or who epitomises the Remuse style?
Strong. Cosmic. Experimental. Kelsey Lu. Betty Davis. Yayoi Kusama. Sun Ra.
What’s your next big step for REMUSE designs?
Developing a REMUSE design team and bringing our work back home to New York ❤️
Follow REMUSE on Instagram and head to The SUBSTATION at Newport, Victoria on March 6, 2019 at 6.30pm. Part of the VAMFF arts programme, the REMUSE immersive runway will feature its latest collection Micología II.