At Work With Fashion Designer Rachel Gilbert - The Grace Tales

At Work With Fashion Designer Rachel Gilbert


Rachel Gilbert is one of Australia'’s leading fashion designers. She originally made her mark with spectacular embellished evening and event wear, dressing everyone from Olivia Palermo to Taylor Swift. She’'s since expanded into modern separates and bridal-wear. “"It is our main brand vision to create garments that evoke change in the way a woman feels. Extending our offering into bridal was such a natural evolvement for the brand’s growth and vision".

It has been a busy couple of years for Gilbert, juggling the birth of her daughter Storm, 18 months, with her growing business. “"My career changed after Storm arrived quite dramatically",” she says. “I restructured my company, changed the direction of the brand’s aesthetic, while still maintaining our core DNA. Running this business is a personal journey and as my life changes, I like to ensure the business is evolving with me. It has been a liberating experience",” she says.

Her showroom is as chic as the clothes she designs. There are long racks filled with gorgeous gowns and stunning ready-to-wear pieces: it’ is every little girl’s dream and hardly surprising that Storm'’s favorite game is peek-a-boo from behind one of her mother'’s spectacular creations.

Married to TV presenter Tom William's, Gilbert is currently four month’s pregnant with the couple’s second child. We caught up with the talented designer at her Sydney office...

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Motherhood has taught me to be in the moment…...
It has brought a sense of peace to my life that I never knew existed. As a working mother, time with my daughter is precious and I want to be present for her when I am with her. It is an incredible feeling to just lie in her playroom, read books, play puzzles with her and watch her laugh. I think she is teaching me to be a patient and more light-hearted. Be grateful for every moment you have with your children.

I was fortunate to have found my career path very early on…...
I hope that my children choose a career they are passionate about. I would always encourage them to trust their instinct and take risks in career decisions. My father always encouraged me to take risks in business, which has been instrumental to the growth in my business and career.

My mother is the most encouraging and positive person I know…...
Juggling a career and family is one of the most difficult experiences I have had to go through since becoming a mother. I created this business and have bought it up as you would a child and hold it very close to my heart. My children will always be my number one priority, however I also really enjoy my career. Having my mother, husband and family consistently supporting and encouraging me has been the biggest blessing for me.

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I began my design career at The White house Institute of design...…
I was sixteen years old and spent many years working for design houses in Australia and New York. I had gained experience with suppliers and knew the market I wanted to enter. I prepared a business plan and with a lot of hard work, deep lows and invaluable highs, I have a brand today that I had set out to establish.

Inspiration can come from many sources...…
Designing is such a personal expression and although I draw inspiration from my customers, during each season my life experiences are very much a focus on the mood and direction of the collection.

When a new collection is commencing…...
We will look at the market and trends in our customer’s purchases and also our inspiration at that time. We then create a mood board and determine a direction for the season including colours and silhouettes. We spend weeks sourcing fabrications, draping and designing to create the final edit of the collection. We work closely with our offshore factories to ensure the fit and details of each garment are perfected prior to sales. Once the collection is completed, we arrange a photo shoot to bring together the complete vision of the collection that creates the look book for the season.

Our spring/summer 2015 collection is one of my most personal collections to date…...
It was driven by a more understated, modern aesthetic. The collection really translates what is NEXT for the brand. New fabrications, textured cottons, tailored suiting, coats and evening separates express the new direction, while simplicity helps to tone down the collection and create a very relaxed elegance. This mood is directing evening wear trends this season.

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I can’'t seem to find ‘balance’ or even believe it exists…...
It is a consistent struggle, however I just try to do the best I can and always ensure my family comes first. My children and my husband are my priority at all times. That leads all my decisions and commitments and that’s just the way it will always be. I have become extremely organised and almost obsessive compulsive organised to a degree at times. Recently though, it is my focus to make sure I don’t get caught up in my to do list too much and ensure the weekends we spend time as a family to do exciting new things together.

Like most people, I procrastinate when I am at home…...
When Storm has her day sleep, I have so much to get through. Most of the time, her two hour sleep is over and I find I haven'’t done a single thing. When I am at work, it is time away from Storm, so I make each minute count. I have a to-do list and go through it point by point so that I focus on achieving the most out of each day. Running your own business is challenging,– it’ is hard trying to find time to do all that is required and wearing so many hats.

We have been in this office for the last five years…...
It has been such an incredible space to work in. I try to ensure it is a peaceful environment given how fast paced the industry is. I have the most incredible team here to work with.

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Storm wears printebebe dress.

If you'’re setting up your own business…...
Be prepared to work incredibly hard, and know that it will be the most incredibly rewarding achievement and will test your belief in yourself and your drive to succeed. I love having the freedom to express my creativity in my own way. There have been so many pivotal moments during my career, and although there are so many incredibly surreal moments, I still feel the most rewarding is to see a stranger walk by in one of my designs.

My pregnancy go-to beauty products are…...
La Mer Crème de la Mer; Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Mineral Bronzing Powder; Wella Enrich Elixir Hair Treatment; and Lucas Paw Paw Ointment.

Maternity dressing is definitely a change in style…...
I have embraced the change this pregnancy, focusing on stretch pants and key jackets for winter has kept a modern look. My weekend essentials are J Brand stretch jeans, Jack & Jac Knitwear and coats from our SS15 collection. My work essentials are my Novelle Top and Alexis Tailored Jacket from our SS15 collection with leather pants and Valentino rock stud flats.

Pregnancy is the most fascinating and privileged experience to go through...…
My pregnancy with Storm was difficult and I was quite upset I couldn’t enjoy the experience, so I am so relieved that I can enjoy the process of this pregnancy. I did more extensive exercise when I was pregnant with Storm, however this pregnancy I have been walking with the family on weekends and some weekdays, which is light but essential to keep a balanced healthy lifestyle.

My pregnancy essentials are…...
Sleep, moisturiser, massage and exercise.

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Photography: Julie Adams Hair and makeup: Sarina Zoe Words: Georgie Abay


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