It was only two years ago that Bernadette and her daughter Charlotte were living in separate cities, Charlotte having moved to London in pursuit of an internship following the completion of her Master of Fine Arts and Bernadette at home in Antwerp.
After countless nights spent on the phone, sharing stories of their days and talking about fashion and their frustration with the then streetwear phenomenon, Charlotte came to realise her initial ambitions to work for a big fashion house were fading, only to be replaced by dreams of her own label. Charlotte describes the events that followed as a “natural” progression, as the mother-daughter duo already shared such a strong connection, both creatively and familial.
Bernadette’s strong background in fashion, having worked as a buyer for Ralph Lauren and producing her own handmade knitwear for her brand Made for Bernadette blended seamlessly with Charlotte’s talent for drawing and painting. Combining their strengths, the pair founded Bernadette – an easy, ultra-feminine and cross-generational clothing for all women.
When asked what words she would use to describe the “Bernadette woman”, Charlotte said: “The Bernadette woman is outspoken and straight to the point but can also be shy and reserved. She has a quirky side and loves to look at life in a positive way.”
We want Bernadette women to feel comfortable and glamorous at the same time.
This feeling of effortless is echoed throughout the entire collection. Each piece has been carefully constructed to suit the needs of the modern woman and make her feel empowered by her own femininity. A point too often lost in contemporary design.
When it comes to the creative process, Bernadette and Charlotte start their work separately, collecting material that inspires them, whether it be a movie they have watched or “an iconic woman” that caught their eye. Their home base of Antwerp also plays a significant part within the design process; the creative melting pot of designers and artists act as a constant source of inspiration.
“It’s a city where you get to have a lot of space and time. This influences our brand in being timeless, and having our own way of working,” says Charlotte.
Combining forces, the pair then work together to discuss, research and build a seasonal mood board that will form the foundation for the entire collection.
From sketches and paintings, Charlotte hand-draws and paints floral prints onto garments, a detail unique to the label that ensures each collection is authentic and speaks to the designer’s creative DNA that the label was built upon.
Working closely together, the pair produce prototype after prototype, refining each one until they are completely happy with the final outcome. Their familial relationship is why Charlotte says they both feel they can be open and honest with one another and forms the very basis of their successful working relationship.
“There’s a lot of fun between us,” Charlotte says, “but most importantly a lot of trust. I rely on the fact that my mom will always tell me how it is, good or bad.”
Being so passionately involved and committed to Bernadette, the biggest challenge the pair face is something most of us can relate to – work life balance.
“Sometimes we have to say to each other, please don’t talk about work during our family dinners. It is really difficult to sometimes not talk about it, but we’re getting better at it!”
On the reverse however, Charlotte says that being able to celebrate wins and career milestones on such a personal level is undeniably special.
Finding a home in Australia and launching at Harrolds for the first time, Bernadette’s Pre-Spring Summer ‘20 collection is sophisticated and easy-to-wear, made up of silk dresses and coordinated garments designed to be worn on a night out or on a relaxed summer’s day spent by the sea.
Drawing inspiration from classic haute couture silhouettes, dresses have been reinvented and simplified to fit the needs of the modern-day woman, symbolised through the contrasting of “bold colours” with “clean-cut shapes”.
“Couture-like volumes are casualised by replacing traditionally stiff materials with fabrics that are famous for how they complement and frame the female body, such as silk, satin and taffeta.”
“We continue to develop our exclusive hand-painted and pencil-drawn floral prints, but also launched a series of monochromes that include pale blue, blush pink and lilac. We propose you a new kind of evening dress: one that is comfortable and of-the-times, yet undeniably chic.”
Shop Pre-Spring Summer '20 now
Excited to deliver a fresh take on feminine dressing, Charlotte says her and Bernadette feel their label will slide easily into the wardrobes of Australian and New Zealand women looking for effortlessly beautiful garments.
“We would love to imagine women buying into Bernadette and inspiring other people by wearing it. She will become a modern-day muse and treasure the pieces to pass it on to different generations.”
Discover Bernadette in Melbourne and Gold Coast flagships now.