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Between running his self titled label and teaching at Central Institute, Garth Cook doesn’t have much time on his hands, but that didn’t stop him from recently showcasing his AW12 collection at LMFF; and now he’s preparing for a solo show at Perth Fashion Week, which is coming up later this month. Garth was refreshingly candid and had some really interesting things to say when I interviewed him for X-Press Magazine, so I thought I’d share the story with you guys ahead of inevitably blogging about his show in a few weeks.

The inaugural Perth Fashion Week is fast approaching, and established Perth designer Garth Cook is counting down the days to his standalone show on Friday, April 20, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Though he’s currently full of enthusiasm for his forthcoming Spring/Summer 2012/13 collection, six months ago it was a different story entirely…

“I went to London in October last year because my partner had been based there for about eight months for work… When I went over to London I was thinking that with the way retail and the brand was going I didn’t feel satisfied and decided that I’d had enough and didn’t want to do it anymore. And then I discovered the reason why I felt like that was because I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, I was trying to please far too many people,” Cook explains of his rocky end to 2011.

“It’s not that people were telling me what to do, it’s that I felt I had to do certain things to please people. So I felt like I had all these expectations on me and I had to compete with really big brands and do massive ranges and really low price points but what it came down to was that I can’t do that – the way my business is structured, because I’m pretty much a one man band, I could not work like a big company can, I just don’t have the money to do that.”

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Though he could have easily thrown it all in, Cook decided to give his label one last go (praise the fashion gods), working solidly to figure out the future of his self titled brand.

“So I took some time out and had three months to design and to really think about what I want my business to be. That led me to looking at all the work I’ve done in the past and why I did it and why every season was so different in terms of inspiration. I feel that the brand was evolving but it was confusing – every season had such a different perspective.

“I am still proud of the work I’ve done previously but I never felt that it was exactly what I wanted to do. The styles that I end up selling in stores are the ones that I actually believe in. All the other shit I’ve made people don’t like because my heart’s not in it,” Cook says with a candid chuckle. “I looked at my strengths and what I really wanted to produce and I ended up designing 55 digital prints, which took close to seven weeks to do, and I also sketched about 350 styles of garments just for this collection and started to really break it down and figure out what I wanted.

“By the time I got back to Perth at midnight on New Year’s Eve, I had a whole lot of fabric on the way and a whole lot of design ideas but I hadn’t really started developing my work in terms of turning sketches into actual garments. I spent a couple of weeks doing that then as I was evolving the range I realised my shapes weren’t quite right for my fabrics, so I pretty much had to redesign the whole thing again but it actually turned out for the best. Having the fabric there to work with while developing the silhouette was so beneficial and I feel like this season has really worked.”

He may have had to jump over hurdle after sartorial hurdle to get his ideas together but thankfully Cook eventually finalised a design concept, combining feminine floral prints with contemporary shapes and silhouettes to create a collection that blends the old with the new.

“This season is really about me and things that I love. I looked at floral photography and my favourite flower – oh my god, this is going to sound so daggy – which is the orchid, and I designed my textiles based around the orchid. I was working towards a vintage floral feel that looks like it was dug up 50 years ago but is still really contemporary. So the way I’ve cut the garments makes the print kaleidoscope on the body. I looked at the ’50s and ‘0s, which are two eras that I really love, and did my own contemporary version of that in terms of the cutting and silhouette.”

As for his forthcoming runway show, Cook assures X-Press that the runway presentation will be sleek and chic, with naught a dancer/gymnast or performer in sight.

“I just want the show to be clean – I don’t want any gymnasts backflipping down the runway or anything ridiculous. It’s going to be contemporary and modern, and all about the clothes.”

Tickets for Perth Fashion Week are on sale now from ticketbooth.com.au.