At Work With Andrea Rembeck Of Tutu Du Monde |

At Work With Andrea Rembeck Of Tutu Du Monde


Andrea Rembeck'’s career in fashion was predetermined as a child when, living in her homeland of Germany, she would delve into her grandmother’'s attic and create rather imaginative outfits. “"I was drawn to the beautiful lace, beaded and broderie anglaise dresses, slips and hats. My grandmother had many wardrobes full of treasures and she was very tolerant towards me pulling everything apart. She was always the person who most understood and encouraged me with my dreams."”

Sydney-based Rembeck is behind the stunning children’'s tutu label Tutu Du Monde, which she launched off the back of making tutus for her then fussy-dressing-four-year-old daughter. "“Alyna refused to wear anything other than dresses –- preferably as theatrical and embellished as possible. After failing to find anything I liked, I decided there was a gap in the market for tutus made from natural cottons and silks. Tutus in beautiful soft tones, preferably with beading, reminiscent of a vintage garment, delicately handmade like couture. That was when Tutu Du Monde was born –- something close to my heart, simple and beautiful, that will grow with my daughter while allowing me a creative outlet, doing something I love."

Fast-forward six years and Tutu Du Monde is now a huge success, stocked in stores around Australia and the world including Harvey Nichols in London, Kuwait and Dubai, ABC home in New York and American retail behemoth J.Crew. Rembeck is somewhat of a ‘tutu-sensation’ among mothers looking for a more sophisticated look for their daughters, thanks to trademark old-world and ethereal French ballet styles in muted dusty pastels. The tutus, dresses, capes, headdresses and ballet slippers feature intricate beading, sequins, feathers and hand dyed fabrics. The attention to detail is reflective of Rembeck’s background in the fashion industry – she worked for Collette Dinnigan and Lisa Ho and had her own fashion label.

And while being there for Alyna is her number one priority, this multi-tasking mother has found a way to combine work and time with her daughter. "“It can get very overwhelming sometimes and I could easily spend 14 hours working from early morning – when our US partners are still in the office too late at night, when our workshops in India are open. But having a young daughter who is growing up fast always reminds me of what is most important. Being a designer there are so many things I can involve Alyna in, she loves coming to the office and giving us her design input. That way, I can spend more time with her and, naturally, she wants to be a designer when she grows up (and an actress and model… hmmm). She loves being given the responsibility to help design embellished headbands – choosing feathers, for example".” We caught up with the talented Rembeck to find out more...

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“I grew up in the German countryside near Munich…...
One of my fondest childhood memories was rummaging through my beloved grandmother’s attic and putting outfits together for dress-up's and ‘fashion parades’ with my younger sisters. My sisters had very little say in the matter. I could be quite convincing! Naturally, this passion for fashion turned to an obsession with fashion magazines and clothes in my teens. I passed boring school lessons sketching outfits. I taught myself to sew and started creating my own outfits for nights out. I knew very early on that my career choice was being a fashion designer. However, coming from a very academic family, there was resistance to something so ‘uncertain’. I was expected to finish high school and study law or economics – a nightmare thought for me! Being very stubborn, I somehow convinced my parents that I had no time to study. I was in a hurry to become a fashion designer. My parents eventually agreed – on the condition I trained in sewing and pattern making, enduring long hours and little pay. Determined to reach my goal, I persisted and received the qualification in two years, one year short of the usual time frame. Finally, I could leave the dreaded countryside and move to Munich to follow my dreams! I felt like life was finally starting.

I was accepted into the prestigious French fashion college, ESMOD…...
I had found my calling and loved every minute of it. After an internship with a Munich designer in my second year at college, I was offered a part-time design assistant role during my final year. I was thrilled, but so busy trying to keep up with my assignments and also regularly traveling to the Italian and French fabric fairs and to photo shoots in exotic places, working on ‘real’ collections. This was definitely my kind of life though – I loved the fast pace. After graduating, I stayed with the same company until one fateful holiday changed the seemingly premeditated course of my life, and inspired me to undertake an adventure to Australia. Of course, as things go, at the same time I was offered a design role at Escada with perks beyond my wildest imagination. I declined and was pretty much deemed insane by most people around me! Why was I going to a completely strange faraway country with a non-existent fashion scene (at the time)? However, I felt I wasn'’t ready to settle on this preset course. I needed to break free and challenge myself. And, apart from my initial longing for adventure, the relaxed Australian lifestyle, pleasant climate and can-do attitude completely sold me.

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I arrived in Australia and fell in love…...
It had everything Germany did not. Sun, beaches and the attitude to match. Goodbye long, cold winters! After getting my foot in the door working for various local fashion labels, I started designing my own label – living the Australian dream – which was represented in Australasia and the US. My expansion into retail coincided with meeting my husband. When my daughter was born a couple of years later I decided to re-prioritie and have a break from the all-consuming fashion life. Spending time simply being a mother allowed me to reflect on what I enjoy. I wanted to design and travel, yet have a break from running a business. I wanted to spend precious time with my little girl, yet I needed to keep my spirit and creativity alive. I consulted for the likes of Collette Dinnigan, Fleur Wood, Lisa Ho and developed designs for Urban Outfitters in the US before launching Tutu Du Monde.

Tutu Du Monde garments are of the highest quality…...
Handcrafted by true artisans, with an old-world feel… dusty pastels, silk ties, sparkly sequins, delicate crystal beads and wisps of feathers applied to the softest natural cotton, finest tulle and silk organza without the frail nature and with contemporary twist. Our pieces only get better with age and wear, with slight fading and fraying edges adding to their charm.

My day in the studio starts with a team meeting...
We outline everyone’s goals for the day and week. We’re pretty much always working on some collection, with four main collections per year and various smaller capsule collections and exclusive designs for our online store. My goal each week, is to spend several afternoons doing what I love best: design. One can easily lose sight of the most important task at hand, with constant business demands. But no collection = no business. So whenever I get bogged down with running the business, I just remind myself of that and put what I can on hold to get design time.

I always have a million lists…...
Manual lists that I carry around with me, and then lists on a digital project management tool that links everyone in the office. It gives me comfort to know everything is written down somewhere ­– rather than just in my head that has too much going on. I try to be very efficient, setting myself realistic goals to achieve each day and week. I find there is nothing more frustrating than a lack of focus and the subsequent feeling that I’ have achieved nothing all week. Not sure if that makes me a control freak? I feel that, as a company, we’re very organised; we give ourselves enough time to design and produce the goods, which leads to on-time deliveries and successful campaigns.

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Alyna is 10 years old and she understands that, unlike some other mums, I work most days...…
She has grown up in this environment and appreciates how lucky she is to have an endless supply of clothes and to have seen so many countries in her short life. She loves traveling and is so worldly, mature and independent for her age. The hardest thing for me is being away from her.

Alyna completely changed my life and without her there would be no Tutu Du Monde...…
It’ is amazing she’ is the inspiration for all of this and is now at the age where she'’s getting involved more and more. She is planning to replace me when I'’m ‘too old’. Hopefully I won’t get pushed out too soon!.

Photography: Emmy Etié Words: Georgia Macmillan

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