The Next Big Thing: The Macgraw sisters

‘You are never going to see us do the same sort of thing or send the same thing down the runway.”

The Tiffany and Co. National Designer Award is the most prestigious award for fashion design in the country. With a prize pool in excess of $100,000 not to mention unprecedented exposure and opportunities into the industry (previous winners include Romance Was Born, Dion Lee and Josh Goot), it’s definitely one to strive for. 

Not too long ago, we attended the final round of judging to catch up with finalists Macgraw, Búl, Emma Mulholland, Verner and Pageant as well as VAMFF CEO and creative director, Graeme Lewsey. This six part series will delve into the inner workings of some of the country’s top designers as they prepare for fashion week. 

In part two of our feature on the Tiffany and Co. Designer Award we caught up with the Macgraw sisters.  

Founded in 2012 by sisters Beth and Tessa MacGraw after quitting their jobs and returning from a stint in New York, Macgraw is increasingly making waves on Australia’s fashion scene and is one of the finalists for this year’s Tiffany and Co. Designer Award.

We caught up with Beth and Tessa to speak about everything Fashion Week and ’70s love movies.  

FJ: What was it like setting up your own label? 

BM: We had left our jobs and moved to New York for a year already. So after we came back we had the courage to go forward with setting up the label. We had already left our jobs and cleared our minds so it was easier to make that transition.

FJ: What impact did living in New York have on the direction of Macgraw?

TM: It was a creative time… it was very inspiring and allowed to us conceptualise the whole idea of the brand. 

BM: We got to work on ideas for our collection, which helped us once we got back. 

FJ: You showcased at Fashion Week last year, what was that like? 

BM: It was very exciting, a lot of work.

TM: We didn’t make it easy for ourselves, it was our first show but we also did an individual show, we felt like we had to do an individual show though because we were already sitting alongside other brands that were doing individual shows so we chose to do this rather than a group show. But it was amazing.

FJ: So it paid off…

BM: It was definitely an out of body experience. And we signed up to do it again this year

FJ: Having showcased before, are you doing anything differently this year? 

TM: We are so much more organised this time.

BM: We are also just more mentally prepared for what’s going to happen. There are going to be sleepless nights, and things are going to go wrong but you just deal with it and move one.

TM: Also people are more responsive and more willing to sign up with the brand.

FJ: I guess you have proved yourself already!

TM: Absolutely. It’s definitely a lot easier this time around.

FJ: What about in terms of your collection, how is that differing from last year?

BM: We are always sticking with the raw aesthetic but we always like to keep things fresh and interesting. You are never going to see us do the same sort of thing or send the same thing down the runway. The Macgraw girl is a fashion girl, but she likes to have fun, so there is a fun element to every collection. You’ll see that flavour but you won’t see repeats of the same things.

FJ: Looking at some of your past collections there are a lot of geometric influences. What would you say are your main inspirations or looks for this collection? 

TM: We do love a stripe. We really can’t help ourselves. 

BM: We are not going to say too much about the Fashion Week collection. But there is always our raw aesthetic on stage; we find that’s what sets us apart.

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