The Jean Bas label is one synonymous with style and sophistication, and not surprisingly, the same can be
said of the designer herself, Jean Bas.
Remarkably, it was
after a personal tragedy in her childhood that Jean Bas, the couturier, was born.
She established her self-titled label in 1981 and quickly became renowned for her tailored aesthetic and exquisite textiles. Now Jean Bas creates one-off masterpieces for her clients that will journey with them throughout the milestones of their lives.
Her clothes could go anywhere in
the world and remain chic, stylish and beautiful.
How would you sum up your label’s style?
Architecture for the body.
How would you describe your latest collection?
In the ‘80s and ‘90s I designed collections, now I produce a stream of creations. They don’t have seasons. The clients have no region. My creations are constantly roaming the globe, through all seasons, at any given time. They flow and merge together; it’s as if I write another chapter of my narrative.
What is the inspiration behind your latest collection?
Each creation is inspired by collaboration with my clients. Style and dressing is a process of self-discovery and joy.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Inspiration comes from unexpected places. I work to pay attention to the world around me, to stay awake, listen and learn.
What has been the greatest influence on your career?
As a very young girl I lost my home to a devastating house fire. The local community donated clothing to our family. I learnt to remodel these pieces on an old Singer sewing machine kindly gifted to me by a neighbour. It seems God often wraps his gifts to us in problems.
Who has had an enduring impact or influence on your work? Do you have a muse?
Madeleine Vionnet is the mother of all bias cutting. Her ability to create something astonishing from so little has always influenced the ways in which I solve design problems. Her humanity has been an inspiration to me.
What is your philosophy when it comes to fashion?
Fashion is a verb. It’s something one does. I am always doing.
What is your definition of beauty?
Beauty is about the unusual, the unique, but sometimes it’s about the ordinary that I am seeing in a new and particular way.
People become more beautiful with the passing of years as the soul reveals the light within: the inner joy and contentment that radiates through to the observer, whomever that may be.
Who have you collaborated with creatively?
I have collaborated with many throughout my career. My work family: textile designers, tailors, graphic artists, manufacturers throughout Europe and Asia, filmmakers, painters and musicians. When you’re building something that needs to rise up from the ground, a sculpture that can be experienced from all sides, collaboration brings an intensity of focus that generates possibility.
What has been a career highlight for you?
One night in 1991, I stood in front of the ‘New Seasons’ window of David Jones on Elizabeth Street. The windows faced out onto Sydney’s CBD and people came to the city just to visit them. As a design student I would tell myself, ‘I’m going to be in those windows one day’. And there it was, my spring collection. The mosaic of colours sat amongst the iconic David Jones floral displays. It was the ’90s version of going ‘viral’. In the Australian fashion industry, you earned that window. It was a tipping point for me. An acknowledgment: the best fashion retailer in the land had found a space for my label in their front window.
What do you predict will be trending this season?
There’s a shift in this idea of ‘trending’. People are seeking authenticity. They want to know how things are made and where; they’re seeking a story. I have best friends in my wardrobe and we’ve travelled the world together. It’s the journeys that the clothes will go on that help make meaning of our choices.
How do you think Australian fashion is viewed on the world stage?
National boundaries are currently undergoing a transformation. The way we move, travel and understand one another is changing. The global stage demands uniqueness and is more concerned with where clothes are made and less concerned with where a designer is born. Design well, and the world will pay attention. I don’t think it’s a national status, I believe it’s a personal influence.
What is your favourite fashion ‘must-have’?
When it comes to the body, there’s nothing I love more than structure. A jacket and a classic well-cut trouser (hat and gloves optional).