It’s a refreshingly awesome thing when the best of Australia’s young, energetic fashion talent make the conscious decision, rather than moving overseas or selling out to international demands, to pour their creative effort back into strengthening their own local fashion market; such is their confidence in the quality and integrity of Australian fashion today. Mark down Kate Hurst as one damn cool lady with a vision who subscribes to this idea with gusto: “Australian fashion is just so incredibly inspiring! I love Mad Cortes for the beautiful use of fabric and clean lines, Romance was Born for their mad ‘we don’t give a shit’ attitude and of course Lover for setting the standard of quality and detailing so high”. 

And just who is Kate Hurst, exactly? “Just Me!” comes the humble answer, accompanied by the old fashioned (but mature) reasoning that you should put your name on your work: “designing under my own name makes me work a lot harder to produce designs I am proud of”.  

Starting out selling racks of original pieces at Sydney markets, it wasn’t long before 27-year-old Kate Hurst, a fine arts grad with no formal fashion training, was approached by local and interstate boutiques interested in stocking her wares.

Despite her label’s rapid growth, Hurst remains dedicated to quality and not quantity; taking pride in the fact that each and every garment is Australian made and distributed exclusively. Five stellar collections later, Hurst is sitting at the top of a veritable empire: and she runs the entire shebang herself, keepin’ it real from her Surry Hills studio. 

Hurst’s latest collection (Spring/Summer 07/08) “Diamond Life” has all the trademarks of the signature Hurst style: refined cuts, quality tailoring, offbeat colour palettes (with lemon, indigo, cobalt and metallic characterising this particular collection, and beautiful fabric combinations: pure linen, silk cotton voiles, stretched denim, soft cotton knits, metallic leather (that Hurst personally sources from all over the world). Stand-out pieces like the Leather Night Sky Jacket are flawless demonstrations of that sought-after quality Hurst’s fashion possesses: being able to emerge on the right side of the fine balance between original retro-sourcing, and contextual, scenic homage.

“Diamond Life” is no exception: keeping in style with international catwalk trends (such as the current Spring/Summer 2007 emphasis on space-age 60’s futurism), each and every piece is built on Hurst’s uniquely personal inspirations: “I like to have a character in mind when I’m designing each range and the story that surrounds that character helps me to be more creative in terms of all the details. What music would she listen too? What movies would she watch? I like to tie all the little details together with a strong narrative”.

Diamond Life sees Hurst draw on the narrative of sleek pony-tailed/silhouetted style 90’s pop singer Sade, who was behind wickedly glassy love songs like “Smooth Operator” and was actually a student of St Martins fashion college in London herself (designing the outfits for none other than Spandau Ballet for their first American appearance). This, of course, was way back in the early 80’s, but trust me when I say that I know this much is true, and that is that Kate Hurst has brought back the spirit of Sade in a big way (and perhaps a little Spandau Ballet, too!).

Perth residents can find the “Diamond Life” collection at Subway DC stores.

Words by Danielle Marsland