Sofie’s designs were vibrant, fresh and different from anything else I’d seen on the Melbourne runways. They were like some kind of beautiful hybrid post–Pucci X Manish Arora X Mary Katrantzou dream and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. By the magic of social media Sofie and I quickly connected, and when I mentioned that I’d be in Sydney, her hometown, a few weeks later for Sydney Fashion Week (you can see all of my MBFWA coverage here) – BOOM! – our galaxies collided.
We met IRL at the Art Gallery of NSW where we sat down to talk over coffee, surrounded by colour and art. As you should when you’re meeting one of Australia’s most up and coming fashion talents. Then we gathered her oversized garment bags and my camera gear and headed into the tropical wilds of the Royal Botanic Gardens to photograph pieces from the dePomp SS15 collection.
And, today I’m sharing the fairytale images we shot, worn by the beautiful woman herself. She is a creative force to be reckoned with. I can not wait to see what her future holds and I’m so proud to present this exclusive Beautiful Lens fashion editorial – introducing Sofie Teh.
Amber Melody: So, let’s start. Tell us a little bit about yourself Sofie.
Sofie Teh: I was born in Australia, in a beautiful rural area north of Sydney. I grew up here, on my family’s nursery, where my father has nurtured all sorts of flowers and plants and continues to do so.
AM: Nature is important to you.
ST: It’s safe to say I have a deep love of the outdoors, and appreciation for Mother Nature and the Australian landscape. I think a lot of my inspiration and outlook on life stems from this, a sort of freedom to express and create.
AM: What about cultural influences?
ST: My father is from a little island off Malaysia and my mother, a cellist, is from Seoul (South Korea). The mix of culture has always informed my work. And so I find it fascinating learning about other people on my travels. I’ve always been attracted to colour; the world is so vibrant and made up of so many colours and it makes each day wonderful when you notice tiny beautiful details.
AM: What did the child-you think you would do and be when you grew up?
ST: I’ve always been a creative soul. I wanted to be so many things; artist, vet, outdoor explorer, environmental conservationist. I still want to be so many things! However I recently found a notepad I had written when I was about ten, saying I wanted to be a ‘famous fashion designer when I grow up’. Funny how I’ve continued on that path somewhat.
AM: Your dreams are coming true! What defines your fashion aspirations now?
ST: I would love to continue to create beautiful colourful fabrics and textiles that people want to wear.
“I have a deep love of the outdoors, and appreciation for Mother Nature and the Australian landscape”
AM: Let’s talk colour, form and texture – they’re obviously very important to you.
ST: Colour is integral to my work. I am nuts about colour and print-making.
AM: What was your vision for your current collection?
ST: My current collection dePomp SS15 is based on the history and culture of Vietnam, in particular focusing on the traditional textiles of the Hmong women in SaPa. I travelled through these highlands and fell in love with the women, their lifestyle and their clothing. I really tried to concentrate on the handmade value of making clothes, and so I hand painted the fabrics myself. The forms are whimsical and more contemporary, but they are a quirky and animated, and communicate fun. I think fashion should also be about having fun more than it is about ‘looking good’.
AM: Who influences your work?
ST: I think the clothing that people create themselves is so beautiful, humble and I find it precious. I love noticing the different ways people dress, especially from country to country. I find traditional dress so wonderfully unique. The amount of time and consideration the garments involve is so rare and sentimental.
AM: Who are your favourite designers?
I love vintage clothing and pieces that have stories. But if I had to name some design houses I love, they would be along the lines of Galliano, Haider Ackermann and more recently Del Pozo has caught my gaze.
AM: So, what does your design process look like? Do you sketch on paper or journal or create mood boards?
ST: My process involves a lot of research, and sketching and drawing, drawing, drawing. I love to draw, and use all sorts of mediums, pens, pencils, watercolours and gouache. It is such a great hands-on way to get my ideas out.
AM: What about music? Do you need music or do you like to work in silence?
ST: I listen to a lot of music while I work, mostly music that I find calms me and I feel connects with my vibe. I love many Icelandic artists such as Asgeir, and recently I have been loving Mikhael Paskalev. Also being a violinist, classical music is always a go-to for me.
AM: Tell us about your involvement in the Melbourne Fashion Festival.
ST: Presenting my graduate collection at VAMFF was an incredible experience, probably one of my highlights so far. It was wonderful to see the fruits of all my hard work, emotions and heart rolling down the runway in such a professional setting. It is incredibly humbling and exciting to hear wonderful feedback from others who really enjoy my work.
AM: Okay, quick quiz time. Name 3 key artistic influences, in any field. Go.
ST: One – Sofia Coppola. An inspirational woman whose films I love and dream about being in. That probably won’t happen but I could dream to create the costumes for one of her films one day.
Two – John William Waterhouse. I first saw a picture of his painting The Lady of Shalott when I was very small. I found it so enchanting, and to this day his paintings bewitch me. I have a strange obsession with folklore and the magical.
Three – Simon Reeve. An author, adventurer and presenter of his many travels. Passionate about the earth, human rights and conservation, he inspires me to be brave and never stop venturing.
AM: Do you have a muse? Who would you most like to dress?
“It is incredibly humbling and exciting to hear wonderful feedback from others who really enjoy my work”
AM: What three things can’t you live without?
ST: My top-notch family and my partner in crime. Coconut gelato, or coconut anything. Anything gelato! Three, a flourishing garden.
AM: What’s next for Sofie Teh?
ST: Hopefully doing good deeds and making more colourful head scarves for chemotherapy patients or alopecia sufferers, being one myself. And working on more unique whimsical pieces for people to wear!