The secret fashion partnership that’s set to rock Paris

In the "Did you hear?" fishbowl that is the Australian fashion industry, keeping a secret is always going to take some work, and more than a little subterfuge.

So when couturier Toni Maticevski and cult jewellery designer Emma Abrahams, of Heart of Bone, decided in January to collaborate on a luxury jewellery range for Paris Couture Week, they had to work in secret, telling no one but their absolute inner circles; even Maticevski's atelier staff were in the dark until a couple of weeks ago.

Couturier Toni Maticevski and Heart of Bone’s Emma Abrahams have collaborated on a jewellery collection they will take to Paris next week.Credit:Simon Schluter

"We met here [Abrahams' Melbourne studio] at night … for 10 minutes we spoke and then … we said, let's just get into it," Abrahams said. "For someone who hasn't used wax before, having [Toni] create something from nothing is an extraordinary thing. It would be like me walking in [to Maticevski's studio] and just start draping [fabric]."

During that first session, Maticevski crafted a wax leaf that would inspire the whole collection, which is made from 18-carat gold and vintage diamonds Abrahams sourced at auction.

"Having that history of making new heirlooms and modern treasures is something that's really important for the integrity of my work, and Toni enjoys and appreciates that as well," Abrahams said.

Maticevski said he's been approached by "countless" jewellery brands but none had felt right before.

Couture week: fast facts

  • Paris Couture Week takes place twice a year, in January and June.
  • The couture collections include some of the most extravagant gowns of the year and are often a forecast of red carpet trends for the following year.
  • Labels must have the approval of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode to participate.
  • The only label on the official schedule with an Australian collection is Ralph and Russo, owned by expats Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo. 

"I can tell [their] intent was to make a commercial product … with this, we just get to be creative," he said.

To some, the juxtaposition between Maticevski's gowns, worn by celebrities including Lindy Rama Ellis and Jennifer Hawkins, and Abraham's rock 'n' roll, dark jewellery may seem odd. But Abrahams said nothing could be further from the truth.

"Our brands challenge the notion of contemporary beauty … and who is this client who responds to individualism, she responds to bold statements, sharp tailoring, intriguing shapes – all of those things we both have in our aesthetic," says Abrahams.

Adds Maticevski: "I'm constantly giving [clients] something different … [I try to] go against what is expected, what everyone tries to confine you to, constantly reinvent and change and challenge myself and my team."

Last week, Abrahams celebrated another celebrity coup when 17-year-old American singer Billie Eilish appeared on the cover of Vogue Australia in one of her crowns.

"That [Eilish's love of the brand] took our brand from having a bit of a cult following … to suddenly be a brand that people are seeking out, with a small production team, has been really challenging," Abrahams said.

Other Australians set to show in Paris include couturiers Paolo Sebastian, Aleem Yusuf and Steven Khalil, as well as Albus Lumen, which will collaborate with shoe brand Mara and Mine.

Couturier Steven Khalil is another Australian set to show in Paris for the first time.

Abrahams said, contrary to popular sentiment, there is room for good local design to thrive commercially despite the challenging retail climate.

"This is a time for creatives to make statements and do what we do best. Don't focus on making money, focus on making great products … that speak to your customers. Once you've got that, you have loyal customers for life."

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