The accolades keep rolling in for fashion designers Peter Strateas and Mario Carlucci. Friends since high school, the duo received the International Wool Mark prize in 2015, the Australian L’Aureat Award in 2016, and the VFiles Award, given by the New York Fashion magazine in 2017. “I think we’ve received about 10 awards to date,” says Mario Carlucci, who finds it as difficult keeping up with the number of collections shown in Paris, four at this point in time, presenting both women’s and men’s clothing.

In 2011, Strateas Carlucci was the first Australian menswear label to be invited to show in Paris as part of the official Paris Week fashion calendar, along side such fashion luminaries as Raf Simons and Rick Owens. Quite remarkable, given the duo had only recently launched their high-end label after nearly eight years of focusing on street wear under the label Trimapee. “That (Trimapee) was aimed at a much younger audience, 18 plus,” says Carlucci.

Initially showing their work in small showrooms in Paris, word got out that two guys from Down Under were making an indelible mark in the world of fashion. One person who came to see what all the ‘fuss’ was about was the highly influential fashion editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue, the late Franca Sozzani. “She was a huge supporter of our work, regularly featuring up-and-coming designers in her fashion spreads,” says Carlucci who now stocks his and Strateas’ label at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles and Harrolds and David Jones in Australia, just to name a few.

Strateas and Carlucci didn’t come to the world of fashion by studying fashion. They continued their friendship at RMIT University, with Strateas graduating in Visual Communications, and Carlucci, in Industrial Design. “Sometimes, not being trained in your field gives you a broader perspective, a different way of looking at things, almost from the outside,” says Carlucci.

The duo are still refining their winter collection for 2018, expecting it to hit the stores around August. This collection started with the idea of ‘hybrid’ garments, with opposites sometimes colliding in the one outfit. So rather than a shirt or a dress seen on separate coat hangers, the two are cleverly ‘spliced’ into one. Some of this splicing appears in both the menswear and women’s collections. However, Strateas Carlucci’s reputation for fine tailoring is still represented in the mix.

Other elements to appear for winter 2018 are the dark and moody overtones of clothing derived from the sport of motor cross. While mud is stuck to any cloth, there’s a distinctive logo associated with this sport and masculine silhouettes. “Peter and I enjoy working with new fabrics, testing materials that haven’t been used in high fashion,” says Carlucci, picking up a swatch of ‘Pu’, a polyurethane fabric that is wind resistant and water repellant.

The Fall/Winter 2017 collection titled ‘Orchis’ derived from the Greek word for orchid, was the first sign of this ‘deconstructed’ or ‘splicing’ of fashion. “We were inspired by the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. His images are extremely explicit, whether it’s a nude shot, a flower, or even a simple and quite mundane object,” says Carlucci. “Even the way hair falls across a subject’s brow can be quite seductive,” he adds. “Peter and I took this approach to this collection, almost ‘disrupting’ what appears at first to be a simple and fairly uncomplicated design.”

Hands-on even with all the success achieved to date, Strateas and Carlucci still get involved in every facet of their business, from designing through to overseeing production, all of which is still completed in Melbourne (fabrics are generally sourced from Italy). “We still make the samples ourselves and pin all the toiles,” says Carlucci. As with many creatives supplying to global markets, the tyranny of distance does set in. The costs are considerably higher, both for delivery and staying part of the global fashion scene. “We’re continually flying to Europe, whether it’s to present our collections, meet with buyers or going to Italy to buy fabrics.” But amid the toing and froing, there are ‘light bulb’ moments, where the sketches and images on the mood board start to suggest a certain direction for a new collection. “There’s always that strong idea, or a thread that brings a collection together,” says Carlucci who with his training as an industrial designer, enjoys taking things apart, whether it’s an object or revealing the seams of a garment.

This inquiring approach has attracted two distinct groups of followers for Strateas Carlucci. There’s the fashion forward, a younger clientele ranging in age between 18 and 35, who are extremely brand conscious. “They closely follow the media and are captivated by the idea of the ‘next big thing’,” says Carlucci. Then there’s the other group (which this writer falls into), where the client has an appreciation for design, fine detail and a level of craftsmanship that isn’t found with mass-produced clothing. This writer, who takes his wardrobe seriously, has worn head-to-toe Strateas Carlucci on several occasions, all of them special. The feeling of wearing a long knee-length shirt under a tailored jacket, with black woollen slim-lined trousers, elevates the senses.

As British fashion guru Vivienne Westwood is known for saying ‘Buy less, Choose well, Make it last, Quality, not quantity’. Even a simple Strateas Carlucci T-shirt takes on a different meaning. As Carlucci says, “We don’t use the standard fleece. It’s more likely that our T’s are made from a knitted blend.”

Text by Stephen Crafti.


Strateas Carlucci can be contacted on 03 9077 8966

Lifestyle & Design

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