Q&A with fashion designer Ashley Donald


Ashley Donald

Childrenswear designer Ashley Donald has an exciting new fashion exhibition called Adventuress in the APDL Design Lounge over the summer holidays.

Find out more about this young emerging designer whose innovative designs contain an ethical message.

Can you give me a run down on your background and how you became interested in fashion design?

I went to high school in Barcaldine, a small, rural town in central west Queensland. My interest in fashion started in Home Economics with a few small sewing projects. Before I knew it, I had decided it would be fun to make my own formal dress. When it came to deciding what I might study at university, I thought I’d just apply and see what happened!

What is your design process in terms of determining the way you approach a new work?

It’s really hard to explain my design process because it seems to change all the time! Sometimes I start with a colour I love, or a new technique I’ve just learnt. Recently, I’ve been sketching less and playing more. I’ve found working with fabrics straight onto a mannequin can be more exciting and challenging then a 2D drawing.

Adventuress collection by Ashley Donald. Photo by Amy Higg Photography.

Adventuress collection by Ashley Donald. Photo by Amy Higg Photography.

Where do you derive your inspiration and how is that reflected in your work?

My inspiration is driven by vision for a sustainable, ethical fashion industry. My graduate collection, Adventuress, is a true reflection of my interests with each look addressing an issue in the fashion industry that resonates with me.

What are your top five design books or magazines?

Frequently changing and in no particular order:

  1. Sustainable Fashion and Textiles by Kate Fletcher
  2. Aldrich pattern-making books (because being able to make your designs is important!)
  3. Kenzo by Antonio Marras & Olivier Saillard (although not my personal aesthetic, this book is so fun)
  4. Peppermint magazine (as they describe themselves; style, sustainability, substance)
  5. Frankie magazine (so quirky over so many different areas of design) 

Who do you look up to in the Australian and International fashion design scene?

In Australia, I look up to our smaller, local brands that are doing good for people and the planet – Brisbane-based Nico Underwear, Melbourne-based Louie Couture (bags) but also the op-shops from Vinnies to SWOP. Internationally, a mix of fantastic, sustainable start-ups, like the Girlfriend Collection (activewear made from recycled waterbottles!), to large companies who prove sustainable fashion is the future, like Patagonia.

What do you enjoy doing in your down time?

I love to travel. My down time is usually spent trying to decide where to go next and how to get there!

Where do you see the future direction of contemporary fashion going?

I’m very optimistic for the future of fashion. I think as the industry is forced to become more sustainable, production and consumption will slowly reduce and ‘fashion’ is going to turn into ‘style’. I think we will all feel more connected to our clothes, purchasing only when we love them, and treating them with more care.

What words of wisdom would you impart to young people pursuing a creative life?

Be open minded to all opportunities. It is not failure to have a ‘day job’ whilst you get on your feet – just don’t forget your vision or give up on your dream.

Adventuress collection by Ashley Donald in the APDL Design Lounge.

Adventuress collection by Ashley Donald in the APDL Design Lounge.

Make sure you catch Ashley Donald’s Adventuress children’s fashion collection when you next visit State Library of Queensland!

Where: APDL Design Lounge, Level 2 of State Library of Queensland

When: until Tuesday 17 January 2017

Cost: Free