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Sydney designer Caroline Reznik makes subversive garments that toe the line between risk and possibility

PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATHANIEL DUNWELL

WORDS BY AMY FOCIC

“To have the desire and confidence to set your own rules is the key to innovative change.”

We all know those people who are massive overachievers, but not in a braggy way. We applaud their wins from the sidelines while harbouring just a teensy bit of envy.

Caroline Reznik is one of them. She’s the designer behind her eponymous label, and her pieces have adorned the likes of Doja Cat, Bella Thorne and Tkay Maidza – all while she was either still studying or had just graduated from her fashion degree. No biggie.


Discover more up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 


It’s not hard to see why Caroline’s designs are sought after. Her pieces are barely there yet they take on surprising shapes and lines, fusing feminine and grungy with their delicate embellishments and shredded fabric.

I spoke to Caroline to find out about the process behind starting her label, where she sees the Australian fashion industry in the future, and her passion for handmade craftsmanship.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background?

I was formally a classical ballet dancer and I spent many of my years in admiration of my mother who was a costume maker and bead detailer. I was always sewing a pair of pointe shoes, making myself garments from old clothes or dancewear fabrics, and beading for therapeutic enjoyment.

I studied a Bachelor of Fashion Design for two years at the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Sydney and pursued my third year at the University of Technology (UTS) with a degree in fashion and textiles (honours).

 

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A post shared by CAROLINE REZNIK (@carolinereznik)

How did the label get started? Talk to us about the process and the challenges.

It started by sharing my process and artistic expression through my Instagram with the work that I was experimenting with and producing in my graduating year at UTS.

It was a daunting time – I worked hard to be as authentic and experimental in my thinking to evolve my practice. All while learning during a time where we were isolated at home and pushing ourselves as students to walk away from our degree with a strong design language of our own.

It was challenging due to the restricted resources and limited use of facilities at the beginning of my development, but more so because I was pushing to find a new space for my work in a world that was so uncertain at the time.

 

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A post shared by CAROLINE REZNIK (@carolinereznik)

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

In 2020, I was trying to achieve a new sensibility about my work to further understand why I work the way I do and to reveal a methodology that would ground the future of my practice.

I had spent two years prior learning an excelled structure of fundamental pattern making, construction and methods of design. I felt that my year at UTS was about learning to take a step back in my process, to question my understanding and reveal a heightened viewpoint in my work towards movement and the body. The aim was to tread new territory in the hope that my work would stand strong in an arena that was already saturated.

The expression of work at the time was a process of taking my former identity as a dancer into our new realm and finding alignment in risk and possibility. Today my work stems from a similar place – now I’m just learning to see my work and name as a brand – all while feeling excited about redefining what commercial garments and practices look like in the marketplace.

How would you describe Caroline Reznik to someone who’s never seen it before?

Empowering, detail-oriented, handcrafted, streamlined and movement conscious.

 

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A post shared by CAROLINE REZNIK (@carolinereznik)

What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

I am most proud of my ability to trust my intuition more than my head when it comes to the work I am creating. Sometimes we are compelled to create something because it fits in a box of familiarity. It’s about the push and pull between what something could be and what it should be.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

I don’t necessarily wish I was more knowledgeable before I started. I feel strongly about a generation that wants to move forward with a viewpoint on what they currently know and don’t like in the present space of creating garments. To have the desire and confidence to set your own rules is the key to innovative change.

 

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A post shared by CAROLINE REZNIK (@carolinereznik)

Who do you think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now?

The emergence of student designers who are redefining the landscape in fashion. Whether it be for their message towards sustainability, slowing down the process with handmade craftsmanship or having a strong sense of self and desire to dress a new generation of personalities.

What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

It would be great to see more support in sustaining Australian made with the hope for expansion and programs to teach a younger generation to carry on the craftsmanship and production possibilities within Australia.

 

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A post shared by CAROLINE REZNIK (@carolinereznik)

Dream Australian collaborators?

At this present time, my dream collaborations are in motion with my makers in Australia that are helping me produce my new collection. Their world of knowledge on handcrafted technique is something I strongly bounce off. Knowledge is power and I find a lot of inspiration in learning from talented makers when it comes to innovating details that construct and finish a garment.

Who is in your wardrobe right now?

My wardrobe is filling fast with toiles that didn’t make it into my collection over the last several years. I’m finishing the samples to a point that I can wear them myself. I love wearing my clothes, even if they aren’t strong enough in my opinion to make it to the main stage!

 

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A post shared by CAROLINE REZNIK (@carolinereznik)

How can we buy one of your pieces?

They’re soon to be available on my website in December.

You can see more from Caroline here.

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