You probably know Alice McCall as the name behind your favourite dresses from her eponymous brand, but the Australian fashion designer is inspiring for many reasons beyond her clothing line. Born in London, McCall started her fashion career there, and her success ever since speaks to her talent. Having grown up in fashion-focused family, McCall established her brand, alice McCALL in 2004 is today recognised as one of Australia’s most influential designers.
Inspired by her keen eye for style, as well as her success as a designer, we couldn’t help but wonder: For a woman who’s so influential, where does her inspiration come from? To get a little insight, we decided to go straight to the source. Speaking with Alice McCall herself, we learned all about her design inspiration and fashion background. The designer even shared with us the names of other women in fashion who she has looked up to along the way, reminding us that empowered women empower women. To learn more about McCall, and to find out who she admires in the industry, keep scrolling to read the full interview below.
What inspired you to become a designer?
My mother was a fashion designer so my love of fashion is really in the blood. I grew up with a sewing room in the house, and we used to make clothes for my Barbie dolls together. She has been a huge inspiration to me becoming the designer I am today.
Where do you get ideas for your designs?
My inspiration is constantly changing. I am very inspired by vintage artefacts and fashion that I find when travelling. I love exploring vintage shops in L.A., London, and Paris. I do try to find inspiration in everything that I do and see, whether that be a little doily on a vintage store’s table or detailing on a Victorian jacket.
Can you name a woman you’ve looked up to during your career?
I’d have to say Carine Roitfeld. Her styling for French Vogue and now Harper’s Bazaar has always empowered women in the way that she makes them look strong and sexy. Carine has always pushed boundaries in what was once a more commercial editorial platform.
How do you strive to be an unapologetic woman in your career?
I strive to be diplomatic in my work by being a good leader and making sure my thoughts are always expressed in a polite and caring manner. My career really is a team effort, and I believe that working together and collaborating are the keys to success.
What is something you’d like to see change in the industry?
I feel like a change has already started, and it’s great to be working whilst it’s happening. The younger generation do really hold the key in the industry now, which is also exciting to see. I believe that feminism means equality, and a journey of a thousand miles always starts with one step. We can all be a part and take little steps to make this change.
What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to take a risk and go with your intuition. Be confident and act on what you think will work. Make sure you have a great understanding of your target market, and create products (or experiences) that are irreplaceable.
Do you think that the industry needs to be restructured so that it's a fairer place for all types of people?
I think this is slowly happening in the industry and will hopefully only change for the better. Women like Vivienne Westwood, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Miuccia Prada head their fashion houses by working as both the creative directors and also taking the helm of business decisions; they are true inspirations in the industry.
Has there ever been a moment where you’ve had to overcome your own self-doubt?
For me, my work has never been difficult. I love what I do each and every day. Of course, there are hurdles and challenges along the way, but with the right attitude and with confidence, getting over these hurdles is what makes you and your business stronger.
What is something you wish everyone knew about your job?
That it all began in London where I spent 10 years working as a stylist and working with the likes of Kate Moss and Destiny’s Child. My time in London taught me key skills and gave me the confidence to ultimately start my own label.
Fashion is a way of getting a message out into the world. What do you hope your designs say to people?
I love it when I have girls coming up to me and telling me what a fantastic time they had wearing our brand. I really try to create keepsakes and special, sentimental pieces that can be worn for years. I want our customer to have fun dressing in our pieces and see them as a creative expression of their personality.