Interview: Sarah Darby
Lauded by Harper's Bazaar and selected as the official illustrator of Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival two years running, Sarah Darby has quickly gained momentum as one of Australia's preeminent fashion illustrators.
After working in publishing in London and marketing within Australia, the Melbourne-based mum of two decided to return to fashion illustration after a 20 year break - and she's never looked back, even adding bespoke denim and leather to her repertoire.
And now Sarah's collaborated with The Fifth Label for a second time, creating exclusive embroidered denim for their latest collection, 'Free Form', inspired by '70s saturated hues and floral photography.
We chat with Sarah below, plus shop the latest collection from The Fifth Label now.
BNKR: Congratulations on another successful collaboration with The Fifth Label! Tell us how it all came about.
Sarah: Thank you. I'm so happy! I started playing around with denim about the time that The Fifth Label launched their core denim range and Mel [Flintoft, Australian Fashion Labels Creative Director] suggested we play with some ideas together.
What do you feel aligns between your work and The Fifth?
I just love The Fifth. It's just perfectly laidback cool. It's so Australian and so wearable - I'm always in these cropped boyfriend fit jeans. I'm learning to select brands to work with based on what feels authentic and this certainly does.
What inspired your embroidery work for this collaboration?
I really wanted to do something that The Fifth could deliver that I couldn't within my skill set. I collect second hand books for inspiration and one of my favourites is a 1970s rose encyclopaedia. The photography is incredible - bright saturated colours that have such a retro feel and I really wanted to use them in this collab.
Designing for fashion is a much longer process than some - what was the development process like for these pieces?
So strange for me! As I work on one-off pieces, the order comes in, we handmake it and send it out. With this collab, we had the whole concept, test and sign off completed last year! Amazing for me to experience how a big brand works!
You’re a fashion illustrator too – tell us about how you got into DIYing your denim and leather.
I have always wanted to paint on something other than paper. I'd played with a few ideas but then I put some gold paint on denim...and I loved the contrast. In terms of what I paint, I love the idea of getting a tattoo, the idea that your skin tells your story. But I have to say I'm too fickle - I change my mind too often to commit to a tattoo. So the jackets are really my version of a tattoo.
What’s your fashion ethos?
Gosh, I never have a good answer to this. I still feel like I'm learning. I recently chopped my hair off - I'm all about messy locks and simple style: jeans rolled up and high waisted, white trainers, great oversized shirt with statement cuffs.
Go-to piece of denim?
Those The Fifth light wash cropped high waisted jeans. My handpainted 501s and my Silver handpainted wings on a vintage trucker.
What’s the hardest part of running your own business?
Not having someone to bounce your ideas off and tell you what to do! I love it, but sometimes I wish someone would just give me a to-do list!
And most rewarding?
Controlling my own destiny. Deciding my creative direction and cherry picking which awesome people and brands that I want to work with!
Focus for the rest of 2017?
I'm selling my vintage handpainted jackets in a few select boutiques which is so exciting. I have t shirts and handpainted bags coming soon too. Love where we are heading!
Shop Sarah Darby's exclusive embroidered denim below.
Feature image via Sarah Darby.
Words: Lucy Ahern