fashion designer clare press

The longer I work in the magazine industry, the more I am reminded of how small it is. Quite a few years ago I went on a media trip to Vanuatu with a small group of journalists. I was quite new to the whole scenario of a famil (as they're called) and so behaved as I do when in the company of strangers: I sat back and observed. I find it fascinating to watch how people behave in group situations and I confess that I like to listen and learn more than talk about myself. I remember being intrigued by the features director of Vogue. While she bore many of the hallmarks of what I imagine to be a Vogue fashionista, she was also incredibly well-read (I remember her talking passionately about Russian literature) and had studied politics. I have since discovered that Mrs Press from the not-so-long-ago-launched fashion label is that same person. The intrigue continues...

Which five words best describe you? In need of a holiday.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied politics and started out as a journalist. My first magazine job was at Oyster, then I freelanced as a fashion writer for Harper’s Bazaar, The Australian, The New York Times Magazine, and Nylon. I spent five years as features director at Vogue Australia before completely changing my career two years ago. Now I design the womenswear label and beauty brand, Mrs. Press.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Dream big - if you put something out there, it might just happen.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Getting a book deal with Penguin. I’m writing a style book that sums up all things Mrs. Press.

What’s been your best decision? Opening our new Sydney HQ on Oxford Street, Paddington. Six months ago we were working out of a tiny shopfront in Darlinghurst. I had one part-time staff member and we shared a computer. I packed my first delivery of candles for David Jones on my living room floor! Now I have my dream store, which I was able to design from scratch, and spacious, light-filled studios upstairs. It’s my second home.

Who inspires you? Strong women with strong brands: Jo Malone, Alice Temperley, Tory Burch, Fleur Wood.

What are you passionate about? Creating a happy working environment where people can use their talents and be allowed to shine. Running a label, everything from the challenges and problem solving to the bigger picture stuff: telling a style story.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Nijinsky. I’m obsessed with the Ballet Russes. I just finished Richard Buckle’s heartbreaking biography of the dancer. Nijinsky was the most famous artist of his generation, but when he lost his audience he crumbled completely. He spent 10 years as a sort of proto-rockstar, the boy who could leap the highest, then 30 years in and out of asylums. Anyway, I’d like to meet him in his dancing prime and see him dance at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, please.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To write a good novel. I made my first attempt at 14 (v. embarrassing). I’ve started lots more but I always lose confidence around Chapter 5. And I’d like to learn to cook. I can’t cook for toffee. I burn toast.

What are you reading? Danielle Steel’s Jewels. I always read a trashy book after a finishing a heavy one.

images courtesy of mrs press