Industry Interviews

Marnie Skillings
Fashion Designer

April 30, 2019

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, her eponymous label was well-versed in the bohemian and relaxed aesthetic exploring the feminine style while injecting a vintage flair. X-Files talks to Marnie on her career as a now freelance designer and creative consultant, whilst mother to two children and wife to husband Emil Vrisakis of Bashful and Smile agencies. Read on for what else is next for the talented designer.

What is your fashion background?

My early background was very arty, hippy, country girl. I moved to Sydney after finishing an Arts degree to study fashion at East Sydney Technical College.

What made you start your own label in 2000?

I really just wanted to explore the creative ideas I had.

What was the most challenging aspect to running your own brand?

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, buts that is only [one] part of it.

Throughout the course of your career, you have collaborated with a number of industry leaders; is there a particular collaboration you are most proud of?

Hmm that’s as tough one… I always loved collaborating with great talents that are also amazing friends; David Bonney who styled most of my runway shows and I loved working with Michele Jank who really has her own world view and incredible creative talent. I also adored working with Nicky Zimmermann of Zimmermann who is a fantastic human and so bloody talented that it blows my mind!

Have you been involved in other design projects other than fashion?
Yes, I have worked on projects for events, advertising and interior design.

As a freelance designer and creative consultant, what does your day consist of?

It varies depending on what I am working on. I love the freedom that working for myself allows. I love being able to drop my children off to school and daycare, I love to also start my day with some exercise, some yoga or Pilates gets me centered and ready to focus. Then I am either in my office/studio at home, out sourcing or meeting with clients at their studios. So, I am a bit of a gypsy, but I love it.

How do you manage to balance work life and home life?

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 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!

Where do you cultivate the most creative energy or inspiration from?

Just the world, music, art, reading, movies, people I see in the street, substantial researching and also just taking it all in….

Marnie with models following one of her shows.

Tell us about your philanthropic work.

I am the lead creative for Sydney Children’s Hospital’s, SunSchine Charity. 2019 will be my third year being the creative for the event which raises money for children in need of medical help. I also joined the committee in 2018 and love being in a group of such caring and generous absolute powerhouses of women all doing what they can to make a difference. It’s especially close to myself and our family as my daughter Teddy Jean was born with a heart condition which was repaired last year, so I really got to see throughout our journey what a vital need there is and what a difference can and is being made.

What’s next for you Marnie?

I still and always will love to work with and collaborate with other individuals and companies. But I am also quietly working on my own little project ‘skillings’ (Instagram.com/skillingsthe) which will launch later in 2019. I am super excited but terribly nervous as well. I guess I just felt like I had something to say again creatively. Check out @skillingsthe and @marnieskillings to follow our progress on Instagram….

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Headquartered in the iconic St Johns Church in Sydney Australia, Parlour X has been awarded the 2015 Prix De Marie Claire Award for best fashion boutique, a ringing endorsement for this Australian fashion favourite.

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