LIFEwithBIRD is, as the hip crowd would say, #relationshipgoals. While other couples document their love story on social media, Bridget McCall and Nicholas Van Messner have taken it a few notches higher and built a business around it. The result? 14 years in the fashion industry and a brand known for its exquisitely crafted leather pieces and effortlessly cool aesthetic.
While we can’t all have our own LIFEwithBIRD, we can have a CHATwithBRIDGETMCCALL. Enjoy!
What’s the work dynamic like between you two? How are you different from and similar to each other, and how is that an advantage/disadvantage in your work?
LIFEwithBIRD was established in 2002 on our kitchen bench out of a desire to fill a void in the marketplace for good quality Australian made leather goods. Nick and I had started dating months before, were both ready to start our own labels when we met and instead decided to create something together.
Our backgrounds being quite different, Nick studied fashion design at RMIT and I in photography and styling, we felt we could bring different strengths to the table. We shared a similar vision and aesthetic and wanted to do something that we felt wasn’t being done. The name came about after much discussion – my nickname being Bird, when the words came together we loved it instantly. It’s the story of Nick’s life with me.
Please describe the philosophy behind your designs. What does LIFEwithBIRD stand for? How are your designs different from that of other designers’?
Every collection is a reflection of our evolving perceptions on life and fashion.
Describe the LIFEwithBIRD woman — who are the people you design for?
We have two lines that we design for seasonally. The main ready-to-wear collection, which we see as the empowered, bold and confident woman, and the LWB line which consists of wardrobe staples and layering pieces. Both collections have their own signature and when designing we come up with the direction of the range, the colour palette and fabrications, and then map out the range plan.
It’s quite a methodical process. We start by placing the must-have silhouettes for the season and then building the range around it. So it’s not really about a specific person as much as it’s about a mood or a story that we want to tell for the season. There is something for all women.
You’ve been designing for around 14 years now — how do you keep going and not burning out? Where do you keep finding inspiration?
Every collection we draw inspiration from different places. Our travels and a love of music are often hugely influential and give us the starting point to create the story. Once we’ve established the direction, we build the colour palette, prints and fabrications around this and range plan from there.
Why do you think you’ve lasted so long?
The process and the journey. It still amazes me when I see something that started off as an idea come to life and worn by someone who appreciates it. We have a very loyal following, one that we continue to have in mind when designing our collections from season to season.
Who are your favourite designers besides each other?
Maison Martin Margiela who is one of the avant-gardists and The Antwerp Six: a group of Belgian fashion designers who were coming up with groundbreaking designs through the late 80s and 90s. We both love the minimal aesthetic, the ways in which boundaries are pushed and clever deconstruction, which we’ve drawn inspiration from.
What are your top 5 racewear picks from your line this season?
There are so many different racewear styles; we don’t think we can stick to just 5! Some of our favourites include the: Listen Lady Dress, Me & Yoko Dress, Here Comes the Sun Dress, Barracuda Dress, Wonder Ground Dress, Folding Dress, Turnpike Top x Never Get Another Skirt, She’s a Killer Top x Seductress Skirt, What if You Fly Dress, Off Waverley Dress, On Canvas Dress.
There’s definitely a style for everyone!
Which celebrities/influencers do you think are representative of the LIFEwithBIRD brand, and why?
Kate Waterhouse, Nikki Phillips, Ksenija Lukich, Cate Underwood and Jesse Hart are all represent the LIFEwithBIRD ideal – clean and polished with a cool girl attitude.
Is there a celebrity that you haven’t dressed yet but would like to? Who is it and why?
We would love to dress Alexa Chung or Cat McNeil – we love their style and think they would rock our brand.
What are your style tips for fillies this racing season? How does one go about putting together the perfect racing ensemble?
Start with a great, timeless dress (we suggest our Me & Yoko Dress) – then work in accessories. Hats are back this season so think big! A great pair of sunglasses are always as must for those sunny days and pair with a cute clutch.
“LIFEwithBIRD: A Chat With Bridget McCall.” This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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Treat yourself to our guide to Spring Racing Carnival 2016 to get the best out of the season! You’ll find racing fashion inspiration, guides to horse racing, and more interviews with the most important personalities in the horse racing industry.