"Create what your heart likes."

Words by

Veronica Stanford

Perth local, Nicole Filev, has spent the past three years exploring her creative side. She’s the owner and designer of eccentric label, Gala, which has quickly built a following for its unique approach to streetwear and events. With a new collection just released, we thought it was high time to find out a little more about the brand.

Talk us through the new collection.

The newest Gala collection was launched in August this year with inspiration drawn from disco attire in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Aside from designing apparel, I also run several music event nights in Perth where I spin disco.  I also collect disco on vinyl – you would be surprised how much inspiration a disco vinyl cover can give. 

There’s a heavy focus on eccentric and bold prints. The fabric is 100 per cent Dutch wax cotton, making the prints colourful and vibrant. The collection was designed and produced locally in Perth, with limited quantities being made to ensure exclusivity. 

The collection can be purchased as individual garments or in matching sets via Gala’s online store only. For the shoot, each garment has been captured on 35mm film featuring various friends of mine. I prefer to capture friends wearing Gala rather than signed models, as my friends resonate with the label and its eccentric aesthetic. It also makes the photoshoots a lot more fun, which is an important factor in why I do Gala. 

Where does the inspiration for Gala come?

Inspiration for Gala comes from my favourite surrealist artist Salvador Dalí – its namesake being his wife and muse, Gala Dalí. Both were significant artists of their era, pushing social norms with their eccentricity. Not only do they inspire me to create, they inspire me to make what truly resonates with one’s self, and not what may be popular or desired by the general public. 

A significant inspiration, without a doubt, is my friends and the Perth community. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support that has been given to me. Perth is a wonderful place to create as everyone has so much talent pouring out of them and people want to support one another and work together. I guess that’s the beauty of living in a small city.

You’re a full-time occupational therapist, so what made you branch out into fashion?

I started the label in December 2013 as a fun creative project to divert my negative thoughts into something more positive. In March 2013 I witnessed my best friend being king hit, leaving him with a severe traumatic brain injury and dependent on care. Witnessing the incident triggered a spiral of anxiety and depression, so to distract myself, I knew I needed to create. The reason was not because I studied art or fashion but because I grew up loving Dalí’s artwork. That’s where the idea of printing Dalí’s artwork on wearable apparel came to life. If you look at the roots of Gala, you’ll find Dalí’s artwork printed on T-shirts. However, as Gala grew, so did constructive criticism. People began emailing me asking why I would want to ‘steal’ Dalí’s designs and not create my own. Of course this was not the case and it was clear to me that my intent was never to ‘steal’ Dalí’s artwork, but simply to promote it. I took the criticism on board and thought to myself that I would instead create my own eccentric designs and apparel.

For someone who isn’t familiar with the brand, what’s Gala’s point of difference?

The label’s point of difference is that it is a complete representation of myself as an individual. Gala doesn’t follow any trends, nor do I create garments I think will be popular to the general public. Gala is eccentric and I create what I like. I’m very lucky that I do Gala on my own, so I never have to compromise on what I want to create. 

I combine my three loves (art, fashion and music) together, as much as possible. Gala has thrown its own events for the last two years where Dalí’s artwork has been given away and Gala apparel is sold.  I also DJ under the Gala brand at various fashion, music and art events. 

Any key messages you’re trying to drive?

The biggest message I can give is to create what your heart likes, what your soul likes and what you truly like. Do not create what you think may be popular or will attain monetary success, create what makes you happy. 

Who’s the Gala girl? 

There’s no singular Gala girl. Gala is a community brand represented by numerous females who support the brand and its aesthetic. 

Gala has two upcoming events before the end of year in Perth, keep an eye on the brand’s socials to stay in the loop.


Nicole Filev

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