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MASTER OF HER

Craft

Few people embody the exquisite cordiality of the fashion elite quite like Annette of Melbourne Couture’s Rose Calabro. Tijan Biner speaks with the head designer and managing director about her signature style, her entry into the fashion world, and the alluring beauty of bridal couture.

As a connoisseur of elegant silhouettes and exquisite detailing, Melbourne’s famous bridal house Annette of Melbourne Couture has been at the height of the fashion scene since its inception more than 35 years ago. Masterfully blending traditional bridal wear with modern elegance, head designer Calabro expertly crafts one-of-a-kind pieces for the fashion-forward bride. Her ability to capture the desires of her clients, as well as the air of the era, is the secret to the company’s success.

Calabro’s fashion fairytale began when she was just a child. Hand-sewing pieces for her dolls, she taught herself the art of dressmaking from scratch. “I started designing wedding gowns for my dolls when I was five years old,” she says. “I have had a love for them ever since!” Years later, the designer completed a four-year apprenticeship in high-end dressmaking, which was followed by a design and drawing course at RMIT University. “I love all areas of the construction process, especially discussing with my clients how we will make the design work,” Calabro adds.

Annette of Melbourne Couture exudes originality. Its most notable skill lies in combining dissimilar aesthetics with its signature style – fashionable and sophisticated. Creating gowns for fashionminded brides who seek a dress like no other, Calabro is thrilled that brides are thinking outside of the box with their designs, which, in turn, allows her to do the same. “Our brides are [considered] connoisseurs of fashion,” she says. “They are individual and want [a gown] that will reflect who they are.”

When asked about the company’s design process, Calabro believes the most beneficial step is uncovering everything about the client, from her style to her personality and background. This gives her a better perception of what the bride is looking for. “When I meet with the bride, I first start with the design process, [which involves] choosing the fabrics that will be used to create her gown,” she says. “Then, I draw inspiration from her attitude, her look, what she wears, who she is, her nationality, and how she portrays herself. There are no conventions in my design process.”

With a decades-long career in fashion design, Calabro strongly believes there’s nothing quite like a handcrafted, custom-made couture gown, particularly for a wedding day. “With the couture process, you expect the gown to be superior in every way, from the fit right through to the quality of the fabrics.”

Calabro is proud to be perceived as one of Melbourne’s leading lights, and offers one final piece of advice to brides-to-be who are still scouring boutiques for ‘the one’. “When choosing your gown, go with your heart,” she says. “This is the day to be true to yourself. There are no trends anymore. On your wedding day, more than ever, wear a gown that you love.” Calabro’s vision isn’t clouded by popular trends or what other designers are doing, and that alone gives her, as well as the company, a serious edge over the competition.