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JOE CHALLITA - the 2012 INNOVATORS

SUBFUSCO | JULI GRBAC | JOE FARAGE | LEAH MADDEN |
FASHION FUTURE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Designer Joe Challita talks of timeless style and his fashion journey.

Describe your style or collection
A fusion of femininity and romance, subtlety and strength is a formidable metaphor for Joe Challita aesthetic. My style is drawn from historical references with a modern twist ushering in a whole new concept of feminine elegance and sophistication

How and why did you enter the Fashion Industry?

Fashion was an interest to me since I was 4 years old as far as I can remember. My mother was the most influential part in my interest in fashion. I was inspired be her love for fashion. She always designed her outfits for every occasion, and she always drew attention by her glamour.
I was born in Australia but I also grew up in Beirut. I remember I used to design my friends’ jeans by ripping them apart and sewing appliqué on them etc…
This love for fashion kept growing with age, and then I later enrolled at East Sydney Tafe where I studied for 4 years.

Where did the journey into fashion design begin for you?
My journey in the fashion industry began when I flew to Beirut in 2007 half way through my second year at Tafe. I was not satisfied and felt limited geographically due to the lack of Haute couture in Australia. I felt that I needed to gain experience in Haute Couture overseas.
I had an opportunity to take part in an international reality TV show in Beirut called ‘Mission fashion 07’, under the guidance of the internationally known Lebanese designer Elie Saab, which was also broadcast binternationally.
I was accepted and they flew from Sydney to Beirut. My success on the show earned me a personal invitation from Elie Saab, to join the design team in his fashion house in Beirut.
In 2008, I launched the Joe Challita couture label with a show at the Intercontinental hotel, and opened my atelier in Beirut. Today, upon demand from clients in Sydney, I have recently opened a studio in Paddington-Sydney where I meet clients.

Who has influenced you most in your life?

Growing up, I was inspired by mother’s love of fashion, beauty and aura. She was always the centre of attention as she always designed her outfits. She used to take me with her to all the fabric stores in Beirut. I grew up looking at fabrics, designing and visiting tailors with her for fittings.

1.Why is it so rewarding to be a Fashion Designer?
It is rewarding as it gives you an opportunity to express what is within you. Each piece becomes an extension of who you are. It is most rewarding, when clients say to me "Joe, you have made my dream wedding dress", after it’s done. It is very satisfying.

2.Where do you get your inspirations from?
Uniqueness of my work comes from my travels and from various cultures that I experience, which then becomes inspiration for many dresses. Travel is very important for a designer.
My work is also influenced by specific eras and feel. I am influenced by all that is ‘vintage’. I am always hunting vintage dresses, antiques and unusual pieces. I am very attracted by old-world charm, glamour and all that is related to it. I feel there was real glamour in the 1930’s and the 1950’s, and that’s where I draw my inspiration.

3.What has been your greatest achievement?
My most memorable experience was being called by a Hollywood stylist Robert Morisson, to dress Britain’s recent phenomena, Myleene Klass for the Classical British Awards 09, which she also hosted.

I flew to London, and went to the Royal Albert Hall where the awards were held, and it was an amazing experience seeing Myleene drawing all attention in my dress on the red carpet. She also did very well the following day with the British media and newspapers in that dress!

4.What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Procrastination! It is hard sometimes to keep motivated; however, my achievements keep going.

5. Whose style do you most admire?
I respect the Belgian Designer, Olivier Theyskens. I admire his concept and designs. I feel that we have a common sensibility in bringing back lost glamour of yesteryears,

6.What changes in your business, if any, have you made to adapt to the current economic climate?
None, whatsoever, I even indulge in sourcing the most luxurious fabrics ever from around Europe and Lebanon.
People who want to buy couture are not affected, and the demand for glamorous gowns does not die in certain parts of the world.
That’s what Christian Dior did in the times of war!

7.Divulge the fashion piece that you couldn't live without?
Dolce and Gabbana shoes! Shoes complete any outfit, if you don’t have the right shoes it will ruin an outfit rather enhance it.

8.What is your worst fashion faux pas?
Thongs with dresses. Polyester.

9.Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Showing in Paris Fashion week.

10. What advice can you offer to emerging fashion designers?
My advice would be for them to follow their heart and not let anyone or anything stand in their way. Success comes from believing in yourself and in what you do, and by developing your own individual style.

11.Joe’s Fashion‘HOT TIP’ –

Subtlety is the key to elegance!
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