Entre Susan Dimasi et moi…

The first time I met Susan was during one of her presentations at her atelier de couture (fashion workshop); I was immediately captivated by her professionalism in every detail. The sweetness of her words, the rhythm she used, and the elaborated vocabulary made me feel like a piece of fabric in the hands of a fashion designer creating art. I was totally in confidence and could have stayed all night to listen more about her work. I was imagining the sewing needle waltzing, wondering how a humble piece of fabric could be turned into one of these beautiful dresses that she made. Determined to learn more about Susan who started her brand MATERIALBYPRODUCT in 2003, we finally met again.

The rendez-vous was at La Belle Miette on Collins Street; the place was perfect. I almost felt likeI was in Paris. After ordering a few Ladurée macarons of  course with a Mariage Frères tea she began to share with me that she was 14 years old when she saw a documentary about Chanel that gave her the desire to become a well-known fashion designer herself. Chanel? You mean Coco? (wink) Ok it was definitely a great topic for my blog and I wanted to know more about Susan. When she contacted me to ask if I would accept to be a part of one of her campaigns (a selfie campaign, the idea was opportune and intrigued me), I didn’t hesitate one second. After making a few arrangements, we were off to Brisbane. 2 days just with Susan, to understand this fascinating creative designer with her Italian background.

To quickly describe Susan, I would say she is a woman with vision. Her vision was to build a respectable maison de couture and she did.

She started in 2003 and opened her ambitious atelier on Collins Street. She couldn’t find a better place in Australia to express her fashion art and continues to always be inspired by Coco. Collins Street is certainly the most Parisian street that we can find in Australia; and to confirm this we even call part of this street the Paris end (but this will be for another article, let’s go back to our inspiring lady). The idea of Susan was to imagine dresses and outfits for women, going to work everyday, looking for elegant clothes but that were also very comfortable for the woman of 21st century. This was also the desire of Coco Chanel who created the modern woman with for example the little black dress after the second war.

Fashion is always renewable and we definitely need designers to re-invent fashion, to shake up our stylish habits and re-invent outfits with new techniques. Susan’s technique is absolutely prodigious and I can’t stop looking at the perfect finish of each piece of garment.

When Susan invited me to come with her to Brisbane to start a selfie campaign, I obviously accepted. At the same time, Susan was invited by QAGOMA (Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art) during the Cindy Sherman exhibition to introduce her work as fashion designer always inspired by Coco Chanel and how artists (in this case Cindy Sherman) allow her to be creative.

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer renowned for using her own image to explore the fascination of our modern society for self-image and narcissism and the cult of celebrity that contemporary societies accentuate. Imagine my surprise when I realised that Cindy Sherman had the audacity to include a series with Chanel. I wondered what Coco would think of it? Which was the same question for Susan.

How has CHANEL been such an influencer in your life as a woman but also in your life as a fashion designer?

Actually I dress the women Chanel envisaged in the future! Professional, working women who are buying their own fashion and are not dressing for their husbands. They are busy professionals who do not have time to compete with their girlfriends. They are the boss or consciously dressing for the job (and life) they want.

How could you describe your work?

MATERIALBYPRODUCT’s unique, minimal and meticulous tailoring language is neatly summed up as; the cut, the mark, the join.

Stylistically I have carved out a niche that combines glamour and intellect.

How was your work evolved since you started?

The core philosophy of crafting a tight wardrobe that takes you from the week end to evening in the least amount of pieces remains the same. Over fourteen years I have measured, fit and hand crafted pieces for hundreds of women all with their own unique requirements. This makes me a better tailor. It also pushes design evolution from the very real inspiration of working with amazing women.

One thing I definitely notice about Susan is her determined willingness to discover techniques, to observe details and create an unique style.

Where do you see MATERIALBYPRODUCT in few years? (Thinking about Coco who maybe didn’t imagine herself being so famous in the world)

Welcoming more women and men to MATERIALBYPRODUCT.

Do you have a favourite piece in your collection?

I am an old tailor in a young woman’s body so my favourite pieces are always jackets. In homage to Chanel I also always pursue the ultimate little black, jersey dress that is a comfortable as a t-shirt but looks a million dollars.

What are the changes that you notice in fashion? The positive and the negative?

As the global fashion houses get bigger and bigger there is a discerning base of people who want beautifully crafted, luxury fashion with provenance that is relevant to their time and place.

And how do you see the future of fashion?

It is particularly exciting for me  to welcome a younger client who would normally spend twenty years buying into mass aspirational labels by-passing that offering to find MATERIALBYPRODUCT because it aligns with their social conscious as well as ticking all the fashion boxes.

Because you have a “Coco crush” (smile) to use your expression on Coco who was French, could you explain to me in few words what is French style for you?

French style for me as the Creative Director of MATERIALBYPRODUCT is being able to get dressed at 6am and go, go, go all day (without needing to change). Pieces that just work because the quality of the cut, cloth, fit, construction and style are excellent. An adjustment of a scarf or the way a jacket is belted (while in an elevator) transforms and outfit from sitting at the desk easy to cocktail.

We recently went together to see Cindy Sherman, you were fascinated by the Chanel Room, how do you find inspiration in art?

Art that strikes me with beauty and makes me think at the same time always inspires me.

Do you think Coco Chanel if she was alive will be on social medias taking selfies?

I think the young Coco would have been the original celebrity blogger/selfie queen for sure. I like to guess she would have embraced it and actively taken control of putting out images of herself as an older woman at work out and at the height of her creativity.

I’m also preparing an article about it, watch this space.

What is your motto every day?

I am here to give my creativity to the world and invite as many people as possible to come and enjoy it.

I want to finish this interview on Susan’s motto because it’s exactly what I have experienced with her. A determined woman who has this desire to share and give, and after all isn’t it correct to think that all creativity starts from with an act of generosity, a desire to share. And how interesting to know that the word ‘generosity’ comes from the Latin root: ‘genere’ which means ‘to engender’, or ‘be born.’ A talented fashion designer is born few years ago and you can go to visit her atelier on Collins Street and for all women always busy or hesitating with their wardrobe, you can definitely trust MATERIALBYPRODUCT.

Read Susan’s article on her blog “Coco, Cindy and Susan’ who shares her experience at QAGOMA during Cindy Sherman exhibition.

Susan and I at QAGOMA




Saturday 2

4th September 10am – 5pm

100% Authentic guarantee range of Vintage CHANEL, LOUIS VUITTON, HERMES bags and accessories

HAWKEYE VINTAGE brings you an exclusive Vintage 70’s SPRING CELINE clothing collection, BLAZERS, SHIRTS, SKIRTS, PANTS AND MORE

HAUTE EMPIRE offers contemporary designer clothing and accessories with an extensive offering of Australian and international brands, SPRING RACING OUTFITS AND MORE!


This sale is not to be missed!

The Lyall Hotel (Conference Room)

16 Murphy Street, South Yarra, 3141



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Eco Threads

Fashion Show Ecothreads – Rags to Runway
August 27th 2016

unspecified-4Ecothreads was a fashion show with a difference, held at the Cherry Bar in AC/DC Lane Melbourne it was a glamorous, extravagant and exciting show, as you would expect of an event that is a part of the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. Staging a fashion runway and an after party with music by the renowned all-girl rock band Stonefield in one of Melbourne’s most iconic rock bars, Ecothreads was definitely an event to be a part of.

unspecified-1unspecified-8Ecothreads is different in the fact that this was a sustainable fashion show that presented up-cycled outfits made by Kangan Institute’s fashion students. All of the outfits were re-designed, re-styled and up-cycled using donated garments from Australian Red Cross Shops that were unsaleable and destined for landfill, the headline of the show speaks for itself ‘Rags to Runway. When Fashion and Music Collide,’ as does the motto ‘Saving the planet…one frock at a time.’


unspecified-13The outfits on show were so impressive, what an amazing effort by these creative and talented students, so contemporary, colourful and original as well as resourceful. There was casual and formal wear and all very artistic and considering the concept behind the project I’m sure it amazed and pleasantly surprised the audience, I certainly was, it was an absolute standout show.


It really raised the bar setting the highest standards for others to follow in more ways than one, in education for the students who participated and equally for the audience, for sustainability and for fundraising, a meaningful outcome where all proceeds from the event will go to Red Cross to help people most in need in Australia and around the world.unspecified-6

I want to emphasise the element of surprise once again as the whole event was so well organised and put together. The runway on AC/DC lane was very ritzy, a laneway already cool with street art and a venue that has staged some of the best Australian and overseas rock legends. Overall the whole thing came together brilliantly, it was a quality, classy and a very ‘rock n roll’ enjoyable night with a purpose and even Melbourne’s unpredictable weather was on side.

unspecified-2Huge congratulations to all who participated and contributed to this worthwhile project, all Kangan Institute staff and students, the models and volunteers and the collaborators The Australian Red Cross and Stonefield.

unspecified-12Creative Stylist: Melissa Jackson
Creative Visual Merchandising: Kate Carroll
Project Creator & Director: Vicki Nicola
Photography: PNP Media

NorthCity4 – open day


Intrigued to discover how jewellery is designed and made?  The artist-run contemporary jewellery studio Northcity4 opens its Brunswick doors on Saturday 6th August from 11am to 3pm.

Visit and discover what’s possible with a day of workshops, demonstrations and beautifully crafted jewellery for sale.


NorthCity 4 artists and teachers including, Anna Davern, Emma Grace, Jana King, Cass Partington, Rhys Turner and more will be on hand during the day and will also be selling their work.

Demonstrations on the day include:

  • Melting silver and pouring an ingot with Northcity4 teacher Rhys Turner
  • Rolling down the poured ingot and printing a pattern using the rolling mills
  • Sublimation printing with Northcity4 Board member and teacher Anna Davern
  • Jewellery repair workshop with Emma Grace

Competitions will be run throughout the day with great prizes including discounted classes, a jeweller Tool Kit and a custom Northcity4 jeweller’s apron.

Northcity4 co-founder Anna Davern has been represented in numerous Australian and international solo and group exhibitions including a recent survey of Australian art at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, Taipei. In 2011 she co-founded Northcity4, a studio that provides professional and creative opportunities to the Australian contemporary jewellery community. Anna Davern’s practice straddles the visual arts, jewellery, fashion and education. She teaches, writes, curates and primarily makes jewellery and objects from the Northcity4 studios in Brunswick.

Northcity4 is a sustainability focused artist run initiative located in Brunswick, offering studio space and education programs to Melbourne’s Art, Craft and Design communities. Focus is on Melbourne’s vibrant contemporary jewellery community, offering term classes in jewellery making as well as skills-based and ideas-based masterclasses, workshops and seminars.

Northcity4 is a proud Program Partner with Craft Victoria’s Craft Cubed Festival,

1 – 31 August 2016.

Northcity4 Open Day at NorthCity4 Studio, 61 Weston St Brunswick, Saturday 6 August, 11am – 3pm.  Northcity4 Open Day 2016 is a part of Craft’s Craft Cubed Festival.

What’s happening at Empress boots?

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The Holiday season is here, time when husbands and partners everywhere get nervous about finding that perfect gift.

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Hanro Singlets, Torretti Sandals, Balenciaga Sunglasses, Carthusia Fragrances, Avantgarde Paris Jewellery and more gift ideas in store.

empress boots

34 Armstrong Street

Middle Park, Victoria 3206


Professional Style

Marion Miller's blogs

Spring has Sprung and I’ve attended a few fashion shows from Melbourne Spring Fashion Festival, had a look around at some of the new trends for the season and decided it was time for a total wardrobe detox. Recently I got a new haircut for my 40th birthday, to give some shape to my face, I got some bold coloured red Chanel ‘Gabriel’ lipsticks and I had some images taken for my online professional profile.. I love a look that is a cross between Gwenyth Paltrow and Carrie Bradshaw, I also love the classic Coco Chanel! I am still working on it, like all masterpieces its ongoing and individual.

A great option for styling is to seek the services of a professional stylist, the one I normally work with at the agency was away in London so that wasn’t an option unfortunately, I called my mate Oscar who is a fashion designer and he wasn’t available either but jokingly said go short and tight! ‘Well, we aren’t all Madonna sweety,’ I replied!

Other options for using the service of a stylist is calling ahead some of the boutiques and booking in a FREE styling session, Sportsgirl at Chadstone offer this, Myer and David Jones also. In fact most of the well known brands offer styling services which is a great option if you want to buy a few season stables, which is what I did.

I did most of my shopping at David Jones, I love the brands MNG, Witchery and Portmans. I found a cute little cotton, embossed white/cream jacket which can be used like a blazer but with slight tailoring and edge, a red blouse and white blouse with navy pipping, a black sleeveless top with sheer shoulders, a cute white sleeveless shirt, a floral sleeveless blouse, a navy and white jacket with zips a white silvery singlet and a long silver and gold chain.

I will probably wear most of these with either, black pants, tan pants or blue jeans and an assortment of earth accessories, hats, chains, earrings etc. While this Season Im going for a more sophisticated look I still like a casual relaxed style. I have never been a fan of to much tailoring and mixing it with artists and business owners I think a smart casual style works well. I came well within budget at under $500 and all items can mix and match and fairly classic pieces so won’t date!

Next it was time to add the new items to my wardrobe and go through last Spring Summer clothes. I ended up tossing a lot out and decided this time to be ruthless. A lot of stuff I was holding onto despite not wearing them in over two years, I decided someone, somewhere would get more use out of it! I filled six garbage bags for the thrift shop. The Hawthorn thrift shops are amazing, and often I recycle or buy from there!