Interview: Australian Designer Marnie Skillings, How She Got Her Break

| 14 June , 2011 | 4 Replies

Melanie Clark

Marnie Skillings debuted her namesake label in 2000 at Australian Fashion Week as a graduate from the Fashion Design School at East Sydney Technical College. Since then, Marnie has been creating sophisticated clothes that reflect her fun sense of style and finesse for cut, colour, print, and texture. Using only the finest natural fabrics and following the mantra “You wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you”, it’s easy to see why Marnie Skillings is an international success.

We sat down with Marnie Skillings to talk about her label, her mum, and her life as a designer.

Melanie: Tell me about your background. How did you first get involved in design?

Marnie: I had a very artistic childhood and was seeking a way to have a creative life without being an artist in the traditional sense of the word (like my mother was). I always loved clothes and the adventure of dressing up so it seemed like a natural path for me to follow.

Melanie: I believe your mum used to make you and your sisters clothes when you were little, did this inspire you to do fashion design?

Marnie: Yes, my mum made us the most fabulous outfits and swim suits. She is still the most incredible sewer and designer. I keep trying to get her to work for me (ha ha!)

Melanie: You debuted in 2000 at Australian Fashion Week after graduating from The Fashion Design School at East Sydney Technical College. What did it feel like then being a new designer to now, and how has your label evolved since then?

Marnie: It felt very new, scary, and exciting. When I think about how I feel now it still feels scary, new, and exciting as each collection and year has its own set of challenges. I guess that’s why I never get bored and and still have so much passion for what I do.

Melanie: What is your favourite thing about being part of the Australian Fashion Industry?

Marnie: I feel proud to be part of the industry here; we have so many wonderful labels. I also enjoy designing for the wonderful weather we have here in Australia.

Melanie: What has been your favourite fashion moment?

Marnie: Each time new inspiration strikes!

Melanie: What has been the most valuable thing you have learnt since starting fashion design?

Marnie: Perseverance…

Melanie: Who and what inspires you and what is your most treasured item?

Marnie: Life inspires me; history, art, literature, and people. My most treasured item is my family.

Melanie:What advice would you give to aspiring young designers?

Marnie: Find a wonderful mentor to help you along.

Marnie’s story and many others are available in three new books that have been released by Red Hill Press in collaboration with The Reach Foundation, established by Jim Stynes OAM and Paul Currie in 1994, the Reach Foundation encourages all young people, no matter what their circumstances, to believe they can achieve.

The three books called “Get Your Break” feature interviews with Aussie Fashion Designers, Recording Artists, TV Presenters as well as industry experts.  The books have been designed to go behind the scenes and allow you to step into the popular worlds of fashion, music and tv and find out how you can ‘get your break’ into the industries.

The books are available to purchase from and through any bookstore with the exception of Borders.  You can also visit The Reach Foundation website for more information about their programs, $1 from the sale of every book goes to them as well.

Image courtesy of Mick Bruzesse


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  1. Dacey says:

    She is a great designer and she has really given a very helpful advice to upcoming designers.This was a great experience reading about her.

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