Meet My Muse: Designer Rachel Mills Shares Her Flexible New Collection

By Johanna Thornton
Rachel Mills with muse and close friend Maeve Woodhouse. Photo / Rebecca Zehpyr Thomas.

Rachel Mills’ choice of muse was an easy one. Not only is jewellery-maker Maeve Woodhouse’s studio right next door, but they share the same sensibility when it comes to their crafts.

“We have quite similar principles in terms of making,” says Rachel. “She’s a goldsmith and very proud of the fact that she can make things herself rather than getting someone else to do it. That’s something I really admire about her.”

Rachel's classroom-turned studio at an ex-Montessori school in Parnell is where she splits her time, between her conscious clothing label, launched three years ago, and freelance pattern-making for designers like Trelise Cooper, Kate Sylvester and Karen Walker.

Gaining insight into the way large workrooms function “both good and bad” fuelled her desire to create more succinct collections for her own range. Rather than designing a new collection each season, she has a core range of pieces, refreshing the fabric as lines sell out.

“There’s so much clothing out there and I don’t want to be contributing a massive amount of pieces just to fill a quota,” she says.

Maeve, of jewellery label Hera Saabi, is a welcome sounding-board for Rachel’s design ideas, as well as a fan of the brand. “She wears my clothes naturally,” says Rachel. “She picks pieces and buys them and I know it’s not just for support, it’s because she genuinely wants to. It’s nice to have a second opinion too.”

The pair met two years ago when Rachel’s search for a jewellery designer led to an introduction. “We clicked straight away and it just went from there.” They now collaborate in more ways than one, running buy-one-give-one workshops teaching hand-based skills, including sewing and pattern-making.

“That’s something that has made us quite close knowing the techniques or the trade of what we do, rather than just designing.”

Maeve is wearing a skirt and top made from organic fabric and a deadstock Marc Jacobs print that can be worn in different ways two elements that represent the ethos of Rachel’s collection. The skirt can be transformed into pants (how-to video coming soon) and suits several different sizes with its tie waist.

The top is also “open for interpretation”, says Rachel. “I want things to be more flexible. The thing that’s really cool to me is that there are always going to be more ways to wear these items than I can think of.

“I like that people can experiment.”

Muse: Maeve Woodhouse, owner of Hera Saabi
Wearing: Divided pants (available in February, 2019), Baby halter top (available this October)

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