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Designer Nominations: Sophie Holt

Having been nominated as a finalist for the 2021 Australian Fashion Laureate awards in the category of Designer Of The Year, we asked Creative Director Sophie Holt to define her vision – and it’s an interesting talking point. When Holt took on the role in 2017 she was charged with reinvigorating the OROTON brand, which she did by introducing ready-to-wear and an overall sense of modernity, but it is her signature handwriting that is truly compelling.

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I want our collections to feel inspired yet at the same time there must be a sense of ease.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR – SOPHIE HOLT

You have introduced such modernity to the brand, crucial to that is your focus on creating meaningful fashion:

“Certainly we spend a lot of time at the design table, thinking about the customer, really exploring that idea of what feels right for the times – and, in that, there are so many elements to take in: our collections have to be cross-generational, for me that is a major element. When I receive messages from friends, that their daughters are sharing OROTON pieces from their wardrobes, I’m just thrilled. Each piece in the collection has to have a strong sense of wearability in terms of how it will move through seasons and mix with existing pieces. I want our collections to feel inspired yet at the same time there must be a sense of ease.”

How would you define your aesthetic and your vision?

“I think striking a balance between modernity and timelessness is important, but I also think there is an element of sweetness and charm to what we do, a sense of freshness and colour, all elements that make the collections feel special, unique and relevant. I like the idea that our clothes lend the wearer a sense of confidence. I do believe that if you feel good in what you’re wearing that has an impact.”

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I think we are placing greater importance on beautiful quality...

CREATIVE DIRECTOR – SOPHIE HOLT

Given form and function is key, and timelessness is also front of mind, how do you go about zeroing in on new silhouettes and details?

“It’s clear there’s a shifting tide from those days of wanting to buy new pieces all the time and just for the sake of it. I think we are placing greater importance on beautiful quality and really questioning how a garment can work from one season to the next to create any number of looks – great tailoring is central to that, a wonderful blazer, a polished dress, pieces that work in any situation.”

You have been designing through uncertain times, how have you adapted in the role?

“It has been difficult for everyone, but I do know that positivity is key. I work with a Melbourne-based design team, the main part of the business is headquartered in Sydney so we’re used to coming together but that hasn’t been possible for months – all aspects of the design process are tactile, it’s about touching fabrics, and very much a team effort. Having said that, I think we've found that team meetings via Zoom has allowed us to connect to people more easily, we've been working with archives in Italy, we are traveling to places that would normally be difficult to reach, and that has been inspiring. I also feel that we've created a very clear handwriting that works for us, and that identity is something solid, that idea of relaxed ease, tailoring and polish. When I think about it, I wear the same clothes to work as I do to dinner or at the weekends. It’s neither dressed up or down, it’s just feels right, and I think that’s a new philosophy when it comes to how you work your wardrobe, a new freedom.”