Clothes can ignite wonderful memories of a person or place in time just like a scent is known to do. One of my favorite fashionable memories and the start of an obsessive collection, starts out with me dancing in the swirls of the skirt of one of my mumma’s print-tastic and totally celebratory Diane Freis dresses as she hosts a party amidst the heady scent of frangipani and the salty sea air. It’s January l980, on Little Cove Hill, Noosa – a magical time of year for our beach freak family. I am eight years old and amidst the sounds of the drone of cicadas and wonderful and raucous friends living it large, I am in heaven dancing in her skirt for just a couple of moments before being sent off to bed. Only to watch in secret delight the goings on, but especially my beautiful mumma dancing the night away in that Diane Freis dress.
Bypass twenty years and I’m combing through the dancing queen’s extensive wardrobes to investigate the potential. I come across the collection of Diane Freis and vivid memories of her wearing them flood back to me, especially me swirling in her skirt. I grab a few of my favorites and my own personal collection/stash has begun. It was from this point on that I totally understood the power of what we wear and soon after I started my first label followed by a stint at RMIT in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion which leads to a beloved and very varied career in Fashion. I become a fully fledged fashion addict, following in the footsteps of that Diane Freis wearing goddess. Love you mumma.
Now, aside from a little sentimentality, the reason behind this post is to share with you my love for one of my favorite ever and lesser known designers, Diane Freis. Freis’ garments are naturally celebratory and not just because of the memories I have attached to them. Laden with a magical print mix that she became famous for, accentuated with a bevy of adornment including applique, beads, sequins, pleats, cut-outs, collars, knit and her signature tassel neckties. Perfect for travel as no ironing necessary and created in a riot of highly saturated hues – her feminine shapes accentuate women’s best bits and exude a relaxed glamour perfect for party and tropical climes. What’s not to like right?
American born designer Diane Freis began creating clothing while still a student studying Fine Art at UCLA. Her designs attracted the interest of none other than style icon/sex bomb Diana Ross, amongst numerous other Hollywood celebrities that helped to kickstart her long career. Freis moved to Hong Kong in l973 and had her distinctive and elaborate designs made up in luxurious fabrics by the skilful and meticulous local workforce and opened her first boutique in l978. Her seventies and early eighties pieces are definitely some of her best in a boho-luxe, world traveller kind of way as seen in the accompanying photos, which I just can’t resist. Her business soon expanded from the Orient to worldwide distribution of her designs. Australian women in particular loved the colour and casual glamour of her garments and soon it was on for one and all. It was the eighties by now and Diane Fries garments were being worn by a cast of well dressed, well-heeled lovers of colour and fashion and let me tell you it was a beautiful thing. But fashion changes as we all know and so too did the designs of Diane Freis. These early pieces are now highly sought after by traders, designers, brands, collectors and lovers of fashion that is fun from all over the world. I’ve sold a myriad of them in amazing print combinations from my Portobello Market stall, many very hard to part with but that’s the name of the vintage clothing trading game and you soon learn to let go. Often I would give my favourite pieces a parting kiss in their farewell…
Throw another thirteen years into that moment in my mumma’s wardrobe and yes I’m still on the hunt and gather for Diane Freis but my move to Australia soon, means a few wont make it there with me. Head to my Etsy page to view three of my collection up for grabs and possibly the start of your stash. Vintage Diane Freis forever. xx