The new label from Adelaide designer Sophia McMahon combines luxe hardware with crisp tailoring and premium fabrication and recently debuted at this year’s Adelaide Fashion Festival.
I first met Sophia McMahon in 2014 when she was midway through studying Applied Fashion Design at TAFE SA. Upon meeting, we discovered that we shared a similar background – both had left the corporate world (she was working as a speech pathologist) for a more creative path in fashion.
In the last couple of years, McMahon has graduated from Applied Fashion Design, won the Premier’s Design Award at last year’s Adelaide Fashion Festival and now has launched her new label, Autark.
The debut collection for Autark (German for self-sufficiency and independence) was shown on the runway at one of the Ready to Wear shows during this year’s Adelaide Fashion Festival.
Reflecting on the AFF show, McMahon describes the experience: “It was incredible and I’m so grateful to the organisers that I was able to do that – the Festival is going from strength-to-strength every year, and it’s been so exciting to see it develop.”
McMahon is her harshest critic when she sees her designs on the runway. “I was really happy. Seeing everything come together on such an impressive platform is so exciting, but as many creatives know it can be hard to be objective about your work – all I can see are ways I can improve and ideas for the next collection. But I’ve had some amazing feedback, which is so incredibly lovely to hear.”
McMahon’s designs have a premium and timeless feel, with crisp white dresses and shirting that can take you through any season. With colours of deep burgundy, pale smoke green and staple black and white, there are tailored pants with gold hardware and a number of separates.
“Autark designs are a little more progressive and developed, yet easier to wear than the pieces in my graduate parade,” McMahon says.
“The Autark girl is passionate about the design, shape, feel and detail of her clothing, and wishes to collect versatile investment pieces for her wardrobe,” she says. “She loves classic pieces with a twist, that help her individuality to stand out. She cares about the quality and origin of clothing manufacturing.”
What makes Autark’s designs stand out is the use of fabrications and hardware. McMahon explains the process behind selection. “It’s been really important for me to use natural fibres that feel amazing to wear, so I have sourced these in a few different textures (different weights of cotton, cotton velvet, and silks), and have used silk to line the pieces.
“I also want to make the hardware a feature, so I’ve sought out brass-based and solid metal highlights such as eyelets, buttons and cord ends to detail the designs. I think it’s these finishing touches that can make a real difference.”
The debut collection was shot by Eric Brumfield and styled by Sharmonie Cockayne but McMahon had a clear vision for the look and feel of the shoot from the get-go. “It all came out so well. It really was a dream team with everyone really clicking and bouncing creative ideas o of each other; the collaboration was so wonderful. Some of us were fairly new to the process of carrying out a shoot, which I think also ended up working in our favour.”
McMahon is busy working on future collections and the debut collection is now
available for pre-order on the label’s website.