Gail Sorronda, fashion designer

We should never forget how to play!

When Expressions Dance Company’s new production The Host opens at QPAC this May, the local Brisbane audience will be treated to a brilliant explosion of music and choreography. As the dancers’ bodies ripple across the stage and their movements tell the tale of power-play and greed, the viewers’ eyes will no doubt be caught by the magnificent costumes sailing through the air. The lavish pieces are the creations of local Brisbane girl Gail Sorronda, who was among the first group of students to study fashion at QUT and has now earned a reputation for her creative collaborations and stylish collections. Before The Host opens on Friday May 1, The Weekend Edition caught up with the designer to talk Brisbane, fashion and play.

What’s your style motto?
‘Nalu it’ – Hawaiian for ‘go with the flow’!

Inspiration can come from anywhere – a moment, a memory, a feeling. What’s an unusual source that has inspired your work in the past?
My collection Seventeen Crushes Crushed into One was inspired by a poem that my husband had written to me.

Were you creative as a child?
Yes! I loved exploring the natural environment and role-playing. I think I was always indulging my voyeuristic alter ego, even as a child. Even as adults we should never forget how to play. Playing is creating to me.

What are some of your earliest memories of style, fashion or body adornment?
Going opportunity shopping with my mum and my sister. It was like discovering treasure!

You’ve said in the past that you didn’t gravitate to the fashion industry, you gravitated to the ‘art’ of fashion design. What was it exactly that appealed to you?
The sculptural element and its ability to mask or project a feeling so intimately.

You studied fashion at QUT; what can you remember about stepping out into the world as a design graduate? Was it a terrifying or thrilling time?
With my graduate collection, Angel at my Table, I won the Mercedes-Benz Start-up Award and was able to show at Australian Fashion Week. Shortly after, I was invited to the G’day in Australia event in LA. It was a pretty thrilling and exciting inauguration into fashion!

You launched your label in 2005; what did you find to be the biggest challenge in getting it off the ground?
Time and confidence. And financial constraints, obviously. I definitely had to be resourceful.

Congrats on your appointment as costume designer of Expressions Dance Company’s The Host. What hints can you give us about the pieces we’ll see on stage?
The costumes are inspired by dark romanticism with a comical twist to the pieces – they’re not far removed from the aesthetic of my own label.

You’re well experienced in crafting clothes for everyday movement, but making costumes for dancers no doubt brings its own unique set of challenges. What can you tell us about the different techniques or materials employed?
It was quite a smooth transition. When you work with skilled technicians who work in the medium of dance and have a strong sense of ergonomics, it makes the creative flow a very efficient and seamless one!

What do you love about living in Brisbane?
The quality of light!

What characteristics so you think define our city’s sense of style?
Cosmopolitan living and our clothing being very much dictated by our weather.

You’ve said that you always design for yourself – how would describe your personal taste?
Emotive, dark romanticism, inspired by the opposite and equal reaction of things.

What’s the most interesting piece of clothing you own?
A vintage Dior cape from the Porte de Clignancourt markets in Paris.

What do you hope your legacy will be?
A creative body of work that diversified, defined, refined and honoured my spirit.

Perk up … in the local church gardens, lying on the grass facing the sky, with my feet touching the ground.
Dine … Spicers Balfour, New Farm.
Indulge … Lila Boheme hair salon and The Nail Place, both in New Farm.
Catch up … Gerard’s Bar & Charcuterie – nice and convenient next to my James Street store!


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