Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Brilliant-Online visited Michele Cook to find the latest Spring fashion buzz at her Utopian Living fashion house in Wauchope, NSW, Australia.
Michele coins ME Fashion
Having been involved in the retail side of fashion for the past few years, I've been fascinated by how the evolution of fashion has come about.
There'll always be fashion trends such as ‘Hot Goth’ or ‘Bubblegum Pink’. They can be shocking, alternative and open to so many interpretations. Sometimes they're simply a quick way for people to try out different personalities. Ultimately, trends have a limited shelf life, they come and go.
I think the world has changed as a whole. We are more accepting and inclusive of others. There really isn’t a ‘norm’ now. And the idea of having to follow a trend is no longer an obligation to fit in or keep up.
I find that has reflected how we now view fashion. We're no longer blinkered into looking at just size and shape.
As a fashion retailer and stylist, it is important for me to do what I do with integrity and heart. That's what really drives my creativity. I need to create fashion that is real and speaks to people's authenticity. You know how sometimes you find a piece of clothing or accessory that you put on and you immediately feel at ease, at home, comfortable… a sense of 'Yes, that's me.'
In this day and age, styling clothes goes beyond being about size and shape. I think styling clothes is actually growing into a much richer and more interesting space where it has to do with not just what we use the clothes for, but it also needs to reflect our personalities as well. So it's no longer about just aesthetics. It goes further and deeper than that and that's what I love about creating! I don't think only about whether something is pretty or not, I get curious about how this piece of clothing or accessory would make someone feel and what it expresses about a person.
Sneak Peek of what's coming into Utopian Living this Spring
Slow Spring Fashion is making progress at Utopian Living, personally sewn and handcrafted by Michele Cook.
This Spring, expect rare pieces of inspired Shabby Chic, Boho Luxe on sexy velvets and hand dyed silks trimmed with laces, ribbons and pearls.
Can't wait? Call 0413 764 129 for a personal styling session with Michele and have these draped on you and made for YOU!
The creativity in ME
As a little girl, I would use sheets, tablecloths, anything that resembled a piece of fabric and add some elastic bands and bits of ribbon to create magnificent gowns fit for a princess. I spent many happy hours just draping cloth, playing with scrap bits and twirling around the room.
I loved creating then. And I still do now.
Having grown up through the 70’s and living as a young woman in the 80’s, I just loved visits to op shops to upcycle or repurpose pieces into one-off outfits.
Making the move to Sydney in the mid 80’s and modelling through that period was an incredible experience - one that ignited my ‘fashion passion’ and built my confidence.
The next few years were spent in business, and the ‘creative’ side of life took a backseat. I still found a way to enjoy the beautiful fabrics, textures and colours in the clothes and accessories I chose.
I believe a true passion never leaves you, even when other more pressing things come up in life. My love for design seeps out every now and then, and I love those moments as they got me creating some amazing pieces for special occasions!
A creative space that knows no bounds
Utopian Living is my beautiful haven, my unique boutique that serves as my creative space. Here is where I can release that little girl that still lives in me who loves playing with all kinds of fabrics to create as much as she wants.
I love that there is something to suit all types of personalities - the conservative, the frilly, the denim enthusiast, the linen lover, animal prints for the bold, Boho lovers, old Hippies…the list goes on and I always look forward to creating each day. I go into my shop and I simply allow myself to breathe and go ¨I wonder what I'll create today. Let's see!¨
One of my favourite parts of my work is to help with styling and encouraging women to try what they may not have considered previously. Often we get held back by notions of 'right' or 'wrong' in fashion and shy away from trying anything new. The fear of having to fit in or keep up stops us from being curious about fashion and how our bodies and personalities take to fashion.
Going beyond aesthetics
This is where my other role comes into play.
I am a jewellery designer and artist, and I also taught meditation and was a Life and Success Coach, specialising in Confidence and Self Esteem Building in Women.
It has greatly helped me to have an understanding and ability to empathise with women who are experiencing transitions in life. What is really important to me, and I believe this is what makes Utopian Living so special, is that women are attracted to my beautiful heaven because it offers them a gentle, peaceful and empowering shopping experience. They are free to be themselves and to be at ease here. It helps them to build their confidence and self-esteem, and to be really able to ask themselves genuinely and honestly, what they really like, how they feel when they put something on, what they want to express.
World wide sources
I source my materials internationally and ethically. It is a conscious decision to enable wardrobe additions that are different to what is generally available, and to still keep it at an affordable price.
They make for an interesting conversation starter knowing that a part of a clothing or accessory has a story from India and another bit comes from Turkey.
I have some key items which I will continue to produce and offer at Utopian Living as they are so well-loved and people keep coming back for them.
The designer in me has also been busy creating some amazing one-off pieces. These unique designs have been handcrafted right here in beautiful Wauchope, Australia. It's something I'm rather proud of saying to people!
Something for everyone
When you walk into Utopian Living, you can find something that suits just what you are looking for. Some want a piece for a special occasion and that is when I love taking the time to go through with my clients the beautiful pieces and combining them in different ways such as shabby chic with velvets, a bit of lace and pearl, or creating a look that is classy, sexy with a dash of sass!
We often have many wonderful conversations and laughs over such moments and these interactions I have with my clients add so much value to my day and inspire me with more ideas to create.
There are occasions where people come in and they are not exactly sure what they want, or it could be curiosity that made them open the door to Utopian Living. I focus on just letting people's instincts and feelings guide them as I show them different ways to mix and match.
Sometimes it is simply experiencing with the client how a fabric feels. When clients have a feel of my hand dyed pure silk tops, skirts or dresses, they start to become aware of how fabrics feel on their skin, and there is nothing as luxurious and pampering as the feel of pure silk on skin. Fabrics come with their own characters too, and silk billows in a way that other fabrics do not.
When a client walks in, they show endless possibilities, and I do not try to 'label' them and assume they want a certain style. Other than letting them experience what silk is like, I can also show them a very different look and feel. And sometimes Boho Luxe could well be what speaks to them! They may go for maxi skirts and dresses that call their attention with the fabrics that have been sourced from afar.
I love the endless surprises that come up as clients discover themselves!
Experience Michele Cook's slow fashion
It is all like a little adventure whenever a client walks into my shop. After the clothes, we never get enough of fun and we go on to looking at matching with the beautiful jewellery designed and created in my studio!
I love taking time with my clients to experience fashion, art and styles together. This is my idea of slow fashion. I take the time to savour creating different works, and I give my clients the same luxury of time for them to have a feel of what works for them. Utopian Living is slow fashion at its finest!
I appreciate I am very lucky to be able to realise my dream of designing my own collection, and to create pieces that will stay in people's wardrobes as key elements. They are pieces you want to take care of and keep for a long time to come. This is fashion that is here to stay.
I am proud to have Utopian Living on the timeline of Fashion History, where we can wear whatever we want and call it our own. It makes such a difference when we can walk tall and smile knowing that what we wear today is a reflection of who we truly are.
With spring on its way, I am looking forward to more inspiration, more exciting ideas and meeting new people who walk through the doors of Utopian Living!
Now that's ME! Let me help you find YOUR STYLE!
Book a Personal Styling Session with Utopian Living
m/ 0413 764 129
a/ Shop 5, 7 High Street, Wauchope, NSW 2446, Australia
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