Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl. They opened a small…
Facing off in a photo shoot against a Swiss former catwalk model is something that would usually be as appealing as a poke in the eye with a stick. However, throw into the mix that said European beauty is also 8.5 months pregnant, and at least things become a little more equitable in the ‘curve’ stakes.
Andrea Hutchinson, Managing Director of HAUS Models and one of the founders of FASHFEST, is tall, elegant and absolutely stunning, carrying her significant baby bump seemingly effortlessly. But she has found sourcing chic maternity fashion a trial.
I remember that dilemma. I was never one of those women who could ‘wear their skinny hipsters all through pregnancy’. I was busting out of my usual clothes at 12 weeks, and for the rest of the time cycled through a reliable set of about five tops, one pair of pants, a skirt and jeans. And although things have definitely improved in the five years since I last wore maternity clothing, it can still be hard to find garments that fit with your pre-pregnancy style.
But what if the solution doesn’t have to be ‘maternity’ clothing? What if you could buy beautiful, flexible pieces that would not only see you through pregnancy, but beyond?
The designers behind Braddon’s Assemblage Project, the eponymous Karen Lee and 4 minutes 33‘s Gemma Jameson and Francesca Altenburg, invited Andrea and I into their Lonsdale Street boutique to show how their garments can work throughout all stages of a woman’s life, and on very different body types.
It was the first time I’d visited Assemblage Project and I was really very impressed with the quality of the fabrics, the transeasonal element of their pieces, and the ingenious designs. All three women are technically pretty amazing at their craft, something which shows in the construction of the pieces…they’re flexible if you change shape, which means they last for ages and represent great cost per wear.
Draping features largely in both labels, the idea being that their pieces are not created for any particular body shape—rather for the smallest part of the body with the fabric doing the rest of the work. I fell in love with this 4 minutes 33 grey dress (below), which featured a fitted bodice that skims the body to fall in graceful drapes at both front and back. And while I’m not usually one for cardigans, I loved the look when it was teamed with a soft bolero in a contrasting fabric…and the quality just felt so good against my skin.
Looking at both dresses on Andrea and on myself, you can see how our different shapes transform each piece – but rather than there being a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it simply looks as if that’s how it was meant to be, regardless of the body beneath it. It’s really, really smart design.
The different accessories also demonstrate how the pieces work as a canvas, upon which you can paint your own personality. Although they’re undoubtedly striking designs, they also have a certain ‘neutrality’, which means you can make them reflect who you are.
My babymaking shop shut its doors with a loud bang quite some time ago, but if it was still in good working order, Assemblage Project would be top of my list for maternity fashion. Not only is it stylish, innovative design…but it’s guaranteed not to lose its relevance at the end of nine months. A great investment for any women – baby on board or not.
What: Assemblage Project – a collaborative retail and studio space between the fashion labels 4 minutes 33 and Karen Lee.
Where: Unit 3a, 25 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
When: Tuesday to Thursday, 10am to 6pm; Friday 10am to 7pm; Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 10am to 3pm.
Phone: 0435 001 886
Web: Assemblage Project on Facebook
Photography by Leighton Hutchinson.