Floral Fantastic: A Chat with Megan Park

Fashion Designer Megan Park’s shop on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, has the most amazing door handle I have ever seen, it’s a huge mad, bronze conglomeration of fantastical animals and I love it. Whilst the fittings are all about the fauna, Parks clothes are very much about the flora, just another reason for a botanical gal like me to have a fashion crush on this lady! When I found out that Park’s spring/summer 2014 collection was inspired by an old floral curtain from the late 1800’s, my curiosity was piqued. I tracked Megan down, and she kindly agreed to answer some planty questions. It went like this….

Fashion designer Megan Park

Can you please tell us a little about yourself, and your life with plants? I am a designer of womenswear, accessories, homewares and even a small collection for girls aged 2-8.  I began as a textile designer working between India and Europe before launching my own collection under my own name, MEGAN PARK, 18 years ago whilst living in London. Now based in Melbourne but still working alongside the same artisans I began with all those years ago, we produce a collection that celebrates artisanal craft forged together with contemporary design, creating pieces that are considered  ‘timeless fashion’.    

What is the inspiration behind your spring/summer 2014 range? It all began with me trawling through my archives of antique and vintage textiles. I came across a gorgeous painterly floral curtain that must have been created in the late 1800’s. This was the springboard for our design team and so inspired the florals that became the hero and statement of the collection.

We wanted our Summer 14 collection to be all about floral – but modern floral. Each of the prints were painted up in our studio- micro rose florals, large overblown blooms, some that were dark and moody and others crisp and light.  There is the suggestion of vintage in the floral prints but these are made modern for the shapes they are used upon.  I like this juxtaposition of something old and something new combined together.

What fabrics/fibres appeal to you the most and why? For summer we tend to use a lot of silk and cotton – natural fibres that breathe and work well in the hot months.  Both fabrics feel beautifully luxuriant against the skin.

I love to use cotton khadi also – khadi being a hand-loomed fabric produced in small runs of only 33 meters at a time, as the looms cannot take more than this.

There is something inherently beautiful in the craft of something that has been created directly by hand. It is never perfectly consistent but its little slubs are a testament to it’s hand crafted quality. Khadi was an initiative inspired and instigated by Mahatma Ghandi, to empower the poorest people of India to produce for themselves, thus helping them become more self reliant.

This fabric, as with all things handcrafted, has more ‘soul’ so to speak than a fabric that has been run through the mill in the thousands of meters. I love that in India there are still these traditions and crafts that are recognised as important to protect and continue.

What feelings do you aspire to evoke through your clothing? How do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes?

Whilst our collection is ‘fashion’, I design with the intent for it to transcend fashion and offer something more timeless. When I design I hope that the Megan Park woman will fall in love with the pieces she chooses to invest in – that they will become her favorites and that they will be worn well beyond the season that they have been bought in.

I love to hear from our customers that they collect pieces from each collection and that they sometimes have favorites from each collection dating back to my beginnings more than 15 years ago.  I want women to feel unique, beautiful, and relaxed in wearing the pieces from my collection.

Megan Park spring/summer 2014 collection
Megan Park spring/summer 2014 collection

How would you describe your relationship with plants?  Funnily enough, considering I’m being interviewed by The Planthunter, I am not really a keen gardener. In saying that though, I do love a good garden and in most collections I design flowers are a constant theme.

From nature comes colours and patterns that are beyond the beauty that we as mere mortals can ever create, as such they are a constant source of inspiration to me.

If you were a plant, what would you be? I had to ask my Mum and Dad the answer to this question as I am currently away with them on holidays and this question had me stuck.  My father said – a dandelion, bright and resilient.  My mother said – A Busy Lizzy (for the obvious reason).

What cheers you up? My kids and their hilarious ways.

What is the habit you are proudest of breaking or want to break? That would be too revealing to share with the world of The Planthunter 😉

What is your favourite word? Love…

Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time? ‘In Love’ no… I constantly tell my loved ones of which I have many, how much I love them (annoyingly so perhaps), but in terms of being ‘in love’… this chanced upon me  infrequently, and never 2 at a time.  I would find it just too confusing and anguishing I think if my heart was pulled in 2 directions.

Name a skill you wish you had. Ewww… too many to only choose one! Perhaps more than anything I would love to be able to meditate well. My mind finds it so hard to turnoff and rest…

What is the most played song on your playlist (phone etc)? You’ve got the Love – Candi Stanton

If you had to make a garden with 3 plants, what would they be? Magnolia trees with seriously large blooms, fully fragrant frangipani’s as they remind me of exotic holidays, and loads of parsley to facilitate our evening meals.

What makes somebody sexy? (apart from confidence!) A great smile, twinkling deep eyes that suggest a spark and sense of fun whilst also having a kindness to them…

What do you miss most about being a kid? The complete freedom and absolute lack of responsibility that goes along with childhood. Of not having any other care in the world apart from seeking out the next bit of fun to be had. I miss the lazy summer days and months of school holidays that stretched out endlessly ahead.

I don’t miss the caravan trips into the middle of nowhere with my 4 brothers who were obsessed with rock collecting however….I was much happier tripping off to the big smoke of Melbourne and acting older than my age.  It’s funny that as a kid I always wanted to be older and now that I’m older I wish I could turn back the clock and be a child again.

What’s the first thing you notice about people? Their eyes, their smiles, and their first words.

Megan Park spring/summer 2014 collection

Whats you’re favourite natural scent? Daphne and sandalwood for the memories and feelings they evoke. Daphne filled my Nana’s garden and makes me smile to think of her.  The smell of sandalwood immediately transports me back to my wonderful adventure filled years in India where I travelled, explored and generally fell in love with the country that has since become a second home to me.

What qualities in people do you admire the most? Altruism, a good sense of humor, open mindedness, positivity and a ‘never say never’ approach to life.

What would you be doing in an alternate life or career? I would be schmoozing around having coffee catch ups and lunch dates with friends, checking out all of the art and creative spaces I never seem to have enough time to see, doing loads of yoga and generally being completely self indulgent with too much time on my hands.  Time is what I never have enough of and wish sometimes for a simpler less demanding life.

Fashion doesn’t stop for anyone, sometimes I would love to be able to jump off the train and smell the roses more than I do! Of course though, I would then like the train to be parked up at a station so that I could jump on board again.

What’s your perfect three course meal? Grilled Lobster tails with coriander, garlic butter and lemon as cooked by my husband, followed by one of my mum’s roasted dinners (leg of lamb with as many seasonal veg that can fit on the table). After a few hours have passed I would happily polish off a slice of tarte tatin and clotted cream.  Of course, if more digestive time permitted I also love a fabulous cheese board at the end of any good meal.

What is special about where you live? We live in the same street as some of our closest friends which is a great bonus.  We also live in a community that is open minded and multicultural, a close walk to the city but also to the banks and windy trails of the Yarra and Merri Creek where one could feel as if they have escaped to the countryside within a few minutes.

Our garden is relatively large considering our urban address and whilst it needs more attention that it’s currently getting, we love to sit out in it as the sun goes down for evening drinks. Towering walls of untamed Boston ivy create what is almost a green box that we can sit out amongst in and unwind.

If you could control your dreams, what would you dream about? Only happy things of course…I see bright beautiful color, I hear my favorite music being played, I see my kids thriving and joyful, I see a place where there is no anger and danger, just beautiful peace and happiness.

Whats you’re favourite kind of weather? Having lived for 13 years in London, I am ever so happy to be back in the relative warmth of Melbourne.  I love now that spring has come and that the air is warming up and smelling so fragrant. My perfect day is one that is hot enough for a beach dip but not so hot that you are jumping from air conditioner to air conditioner.

How many people are you completely yourself with? I am luckily in a relationship with my husband who sometimes I feel knows me better than I even know myself.  He allows me to be me, as difficult as that can sometimes be. I also have about 10 friends scattered across the globe who I would call my ‘besties’ who love me for who I am – unconditionally. I feel pretty blessed in this department.

Megan Park’s first Sydney store is opening in The Strand Arcade (Level 1, Shop 70-72, 412-414 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000) in early October ie. NOW! The Sydney flagship store will be showcasing the entire Megan Park collection: Ready-to-Wear, Accessories, Girl, Homewares and Resort (Holiday by Megan Park).

Megan Park spring/summer 2014 collection
Megan Park spring/summer 2014 collection