See the Resort 2017 campaign from the Sydney label taking swimwear to sophisticated heights
When it comes to swimwear, Australians are a discerning bunch. Though surrounded by premier artisans and designers at her previous post in the design room at Saint Laurent in Paris, Australia-born Nicole Banning could find nothing in the swimwear market that spoke to the luxury and craftsmanship that could compare to the French house's collections. This realisation would lead to the establishment of her label, EPHEMERA, which she soon moved back to Sydney to continue.
Set apart by premium Italian fabrications, precise French cutting and a distinctly Australian approach to design - sexy, low-fi, yet refined - it's clear to see why the 4 year old label enjoys a cult following.
This season sees the introduction of cover-ups in the form of chic kaftans and clever, mod-ish shift dresses in addition to the couture-inspired swimwear. Here, the designer and founder Nicole Banning discusses her new collection and the world of haute swim.
What inspired you to start a swimwear label?
When I started to design my first collection in 2012, I was inspired to start with swim because I felt like I had something unique to say in this category. I love designing dresses, but it felt like there was such an oversaturation of product in Ready-to-Wear and, on the flip side, potentially something new to say in swim. I was inspired to clean up swimwear and offer some classic, no fuss, well designed swim pieces.
What, do you believe, sets EPHEMERA apart from other swimwear labels?
Definitely our fit and our quality. We invest significantly in developing our patterns with highly skilled patternmakers within a French swim and lingerie factory. What this means is that our styles are expertly cut to fit the female form. It's what our customers love about our product, and what keeps them coming back season after season.
We also use the highest quality Italian Lycra and pay great attention to detail to finish. Our pieces are made to last numerous summers in the face of the elements.
How do you see your collection being worn?
Effortlessly, comfortably and confidently. I love to style my swimsuit with a pair of Grecian sandals and a romantic cotton shirt dress
What was your starting point for this collection?
I wanted to introduce some clothing to the collection this season, so I started to think about the right way to extend my design signature into dresses and cover ups. I also wanted to design a one piece that was simpler in terms of construction, we have a lot of pieces with in-built structure and I wanted to offer an alternative to that for the girl that didn't feel she needed it. I started with these design intentions and then played with fleshing out the collection.
How has your time at YSL influenced the way you design, if at all?
My time at YSL had a huge impact on the way I design. I learnt so much about good quality fabrications, research, and the value of cut, fit and finish. When you're working at at brand like YSL, you're able to work on garments with the very best fabrics, beautiful finishes and that are cut to perfection - and they don't necessarily have to be 'loud' in their design details. I leant the value of subtlety in design. Of not always 'screaming' a design detail. At the same time, I do love a certain level of flamboyance and fun when in fashion, I don't completely ignore that. I have learnt to have a quiet confidence about designing a classic piece that is beautifully executed.
What was the most important lesson you learnt there, and from whom?
There were so many important lessons I learned during this time and I can't pinpoint it to one single moment. The most influential experiences were working with the Japanese patternmakers, who were absolute geniuses. I also learnt so much whenever I would fly over to one of our factories in Italy and work on the construction details with the team. It's often the manufacturers who have the greatest technical knowledge and the most to teach you.
What prompted the move back to Sydney from Paris?
Starting my business prompted me to move back as well as a personal desire to do so. I missed the Australian lifestyle so much in Paris, it might be one of the reasons I started a swimwear label! After four years there I felt I had done my dash and I wanted to re-find the easy, lighthearted life that we are so lucky to live here. It also felt easier to back around my support network as I started a new business.
Where are your fabrications sourced and garments made?
We source most of our fabrications from Italy and our collections are made in Australia.
Who is the Ephemera woman?
The EPHEMERA woman can be many different women, I am constantly getting to discover her in new ways through our customers. She runs a busy but empowering life - whether that's through her career or as a mum, or both. She can be a daydreamer and a go-getter all at once. She has an appreciation for beauty, for something special and she loves to swim in the ocean!