Marnie Skillings is no stranger to Australian fashion. As one of the most celebrated designers showing in almost 12 shows at Mercedes Benz Australian Fashion Week since 2000 with her eponymous brand. After a short break raising her beautiful children, Marnie launched her label .skillings in 2019 - a creative project focusing on sustainable, responsible & ethical fashion.
Recently, .skillings. launched an exclusive collaboration as part of the Parlour X Australian Designer Portfolio, creating six unisex sweatshirt styles exclusive to Parlour X. In an X-Files interview, Marnie has self-modelled the various sweatshirt styles in a series of images.
We speaks with the very talented Marnie about the launch of .skillings., her career history, the importance of sustainability & her recent collaboration with Parlour X's the Australian Designer Portfolio.
Tell us about your career history & background
I had the label Marnie Skillings from 2000-2012 which I stepped away form when my eldest Costa was one as I really struggled to balance young motherhood & the demands of running a business, after my second child Teddy Jean was born I started creative consulting again which slowly led me to the desire to create something for myself again, thus my small, sustainable label .skillings. was born in mid 2019.
Marnie wears: Skillings lightening bolt hoody in pale green, exclusive to Parlour X
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career to date?
I feel so rewarded to get to live a creative life & the magic & challenge that goes along with that.
How do you describe your aesthetic & sense of style?
To me style is a narrative, a way to express your mood, feelings & even thoughts on things.. I love dressing for my moods and tend towards the eccentric .. I love what my great friend & epic stylist David Bonney calls some “juxtapizzaz “
In 2019 you launched ’.skillings.’ - tell us more.
I truly thought I would never do my own creative project again but slowly found myself becoming inspired. Having always been passionate about the environment & social responsibility I really wanted to emphasise this with .skillings. so we are ethically & or locally made using sustainable, organic, reclaimed or remnant materials & sustainable, vintage or remnant trims. I also do a limited edition of bespoke up cycled vintage or dead stock pieces with each story.
Sustainability & longevity are both important aspects to your creative pursuits. Tell us more about your creative process.
It meant a lot of research setting up, finding the suppliers who could give me the organic & sustainable materials I needed, as well as reconnecting and finding places to source remnant, reclaimed & vintage items, as well as connecting with ethical manufacturing & local artisans to work with. We are proud to be in the final stages of our accreditation with Ethical Clothing Australia also. The creative process begins for me with a narrative then turns to prints, colours & shapes… as well as that inherent energy that each story must posses.
. skillings. has recently launched an exclusive collaboration for Parlour X's ’The Australian designer portfolio' - can you tell us more about this?
It is a collection of gorgeous unisex sweaters , cozy & comfortable with a more pared back approach. With sizing from 1-5 each style can be worn by anybody. Wear them sleeker under a coat or blazer with jeans / pants or a giant mad skirt or go oversize for leggings or all of the above. With a pared back, effortless approach to layered dressing for cooler weather the sweaters in either the skills crew or skills hood are perfect for layering and dressing up & down.
Marnie wears: Skillings lightening bolt hoody in black, exclusive to Parlour X
Tell us about the creative & production process behind this collaboration?
The creative was really fun, playing with fonts & embroidery to concoct each style. Locally printed and embroidered in Bondi , the sweaters are responsibly sourced cotton French terry and ethically made in accordance with the Amfori BSCI initiative, which incorporates code of conduct, including environmental sustainability. The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is a leading supply chain management system that supports companies to drive social compliance and improvements within the factories and farms in their global supply chains. It’s an independently audited, step-by-step approach for a better workplace. For more supply chain info please email firstname.lastname@example.org
What is one staple piece of clothing you can’t live without in your wardrobe?
I am afraid I am not very loyal to any one single item; I love all my clothes so much I like to make sure they all get regular outings! Although I must say during COVID-19 & as we slowly emerge I seem to swing between something resembling a homeless man or a ballgown!
How do you manage to balance work life & Homelife?
Not always well, I think. My work and home life become very entangled. I often work or collaborate with friends and I also collaborate with my husband Emil Vrisakis who is creative director of both Bashful Agency and Smile Agency which further entangles us all. It’s a bit of a loving creative mess but it somehow works.
What is the most challenging aspect to running your business?
As a creative, some of the business side of things were let’s just say a bit more of a challenge. I feel much more at home when working on the creative, a but that is only [one] part of it.
Marnie wears: Skillings lightening bolt crew neck sweater in grey, exclusive to Parlour X
Throughout the course of your career, you have collaborated with a number of industry leaders; is there a particular collaboration you are more proud of?
Well I have to say I am very proud of this collaboration with Eva & Parlour X, to creative something lovely with another woman owned & operated business is really amazing. Also I recently got to do an amazing shoot for my forthcoming spring / summer collection which I am very proud of. I was lucky to get to work with the most incredible team, the amazing director Tim Georgeson was in town filming his forthcoming documentary called ‘truth in fire’ about the indigenous fire circles & he offered to shoot my collection as he is also passionate about sustainability & social responsibility. In his past he has been a photographer for vogue, the New York times, a war correspondent & is also represented by the Olsen Gallery, so a real creative genius.
On this shoot I also got to work with the incredible Noni Smith, for makeup, the super amazing Dianne Gorevski of Koda hair & amazing young stylist Emily Gibbs. The whole day was magic & I cannot wait to share it as well as the 16mm film Tim shot. We actually shot this before COVID-19 on the second last day before lockdown … it was so surreal & so we have had to put it on hold until our Summer now.
Where do you cultivate the most creative energy or inspiration?
Just the world, music, art, reading, movies, people I see in the street, substantial researching and also just taking it all in….
Tell us about your philanthropic work
Through .skillings. We support i=change and amazing initiative where we make a donation to one of three of our nominated charities but the customer gets to choose. Our charities are End Violence Against women, a partnership with the UN Women National Committee Australia, Restore the Reef & Restore the Land, both part of Greening Australia which we especially love as they work with the Traditional Owners to restore eroded land & wetland. I also am still lead creative for Sydney Children’s Hospital’s, SunSchine Charity. 2020 will be my forth year being the creative for the event which raises money for children in need of medical help.