Model (left) Katanya Porter wears a Painted Lady dress by designer Vanessa Horne.
Model (left) Katanya Porter wears a Painted Lady dress by designer Vanessa Horne. Kevin Farmer

Young talented designers are dressing to impress

YOU may not know their names yet, but three young up-and-coming designers are determined to make their mark on the fashion industry.

Reporter Laura Hunt caught up with the newcomers, as well as professional designers Geoffrey J. Finch and Jackie Buck, to see just how they made it into the industry.

BUTTONS by Sarah Claire.
BUTTONS by Sarah Claire. Kevin Farmer

DALBY might not be known as Australia's fashion capital, but for Sarah Claire, it is the perfect, peaceful setting for her ideas and designs to come together.

Recently, the 25-year-old launched her first full collection, BUTTONS by Sarah Claire, on

Her line has already caught the eye of an American buyer, and sold like hot cakes at the Gold Coast Village Markets.

Moving to Dalby two years ago with her partner, Sarah designs and creates all her pieces from her home studio.

Inspired by the style icon princess Kate Middleton, Sarah said her creative direction focused on elegant, well-tailored and refined pieces.

"I like elegant, classic looks. Kate Middleton is young but wears more refined and sophisticated garments," she said.

"I think I've found a niche in the market. They're not pieces you'll find in stores."

Sourcing all her material from Brisbane, this season's colours include salmon, deep blue, purple and aqua.

Currently working on her winter line set for release in May, Miss Claire said she hoped BUTTONS by Sarah Claire would soon be picked up by buyers and wholesalers.

"I would love to be picked up by stores and would love to get my brand known worldwide. I'd love for it to be a label everyone is familiar with and build it up to a proper business."

Vanessa Horne of Painted Lady Boutique.
Vanessa Horne of Painted Lady Boutique. Kevin Farmer

FEMININE sums up Vanessa Horne's design aesthetic.

Owner of the Painted Lady Boutique on Alderley St, Vanessa brought both her label and boutique to Toowoomba la
st year.

Growing up in Townsville, Vanessa began designing in high school using old satin pyjama pants.

"It was more of a hobby but as soon as I finished school, became a full-time thing to do," she said.

A self-taught designer, Vanessa credited her grandma for passing along old-fashioned and old-school dressmaking tips.

"My line is really girly and feminine but still something that's a bit different," she said.

"They're individual pieces that are affordable but great quality. I prefer classy, fitted looks."

Specialising in race wear, Vanessa takes personalised orders and also sells her one-off pieces in her boutique.

She hopes to still be "providing Toowoomba with something different" in years to come.

Alexia Thompson runs FOXWHALE.
Alexia Thompson runs FOXWHALE.

ALEXIA Thompson set out to empower women when she embarked on a design course some years ago.

Alexia, who is a year off from finishing a Fine Arts Fashion and Business degree at the Queensland University of Technology, recently launched her label FOXWHALE.

"I design with an emphasis on quality, innovative design and longevity. My label seeks to empower women," she said.

"I basically wanted to change the perception of body image and empower woman. Body contouring and the female form influence my designs," she said.

"I love fashion history and applying modern twists to vintage style pieces. I design with myself and my friends in mind."

Alexia, who grew up in Toowoomba, worked as a plus-sized model and professional makeup artist before beginning her degrees.

"I was always styling my friends' dress-up costumes, doing their hair and makeup when I was in primary school," she said.

"I always had a creative flare, which carried through into my love of art and drama in high school."

With a year to go until her course is finished, Alexia hoped to continue in the industry afterwards.

"Design is something that I enjoy however I feel I have a l
ot more to learn," she said.

"I love fashion photo shoots that drive the imagination so it would be awesome to be involved in that sort of thing at any level."

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