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Welcome to My Design Alley. A design blog celebrating design in many forms - from interior spaces to new products, stores and interviews with designers both local and from around the world.

A Moment With | Arabella Ramsay

A Moment With | Arabella Ramsay

Fashion Designer Arabella Ramsay has been surrounded by textiles, fashion and art for as long as she can remember. Her earliest memories are sewing and creating pieces with her mum, who has been a major influence in her life. Arabella said goodbye to her signature fashion brand a few years ago and moved to Jac Juc on the South Coast of Victoria to focus on her young family and enjoy a slower-paced lifestyle. Today she designs for her lifestyle brand Dougal, in collaboration with her father Dougal Ramsay, an illustrator and author, who illustrates all the wonderful Aussie-inspired prints for the collection. 

Hi Arabella, have you always worked in the creative field? Yes, I studied ceramics at RMIT then moved onto Textile Design - I have always been interested in all things creative, whether it’s interiors, fashion or graphic design. My family are very creative, my dad being an illustrator, my brother a photographer and mum is an all rounder - cook, sewer, gardening genius!

 Arabella Ramsay at work in her home in the coastal town of Jan Juc in Victoria. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

Arabella Ramsay at work in her home in the coastal town of Jan Juc in Victoria. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

Looking back, what do you think first ignited your love of design? Probably my mum's antique quilt collection or admiring fabrics from our travels.

“My mum taught me about the finer details in clothing design and how a garment is made.” 

My parents inspired me with their love of furniture and interior design and of course travelling.

How did you first get into fashion design? When I studied textiles I chose all my electives to be fashion-based. I guess it all started when I was young - I was really into fashion, I think watching mum sew our clothing and make our hand-knitted sweaters was what really inspired me.

 Arabella Ramsay at home with her daughters in her vibrant and beautiful home in Jac Juc. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

Arabella Ramsay at home with her daughters in her vibrant and beautiful home in Jac Juc. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

What do you love most about what you do? It's definitely the creating process and choosing fabrics and trims and looking at shapes... I also love the reaction I get from my loyal customers.

“I was sitting in a café this morning and a girl walked in wearing dougal’s dog leggings - someone admired them, saying how fabulous they were, it made me so happy.”

Where do you go for inspiration - is there any shortage? With this business it's more about looking at nature and the environment I live in. I live down at Jan Juc near Bells Beach so I like to chat with Dad about designs and how we can represent Australia and all things Aussie on the products. It is a lifestyle brand and not so much fashion...

“I like to stay away from trends and stay true to the brand and what it represents.”
 Arabella Ramsay's beautiful daugthers Marlowe and Lottie at home. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

Arabella Ramsay's beautiful daugthers Marlowe and Lottie at home. Photo - Derek Swalwell.

What motivates you? I guess being creative you have moments of grabbing some paper and drawing or cutting up some clothing and fabrics or sometimes you just want to read a book in the garden.

“If anything, my children motivate me - I love teaching them new things like cooking, making mud pies, colouring in, painting and making dolls clothes.”

As a fashion designer, what’s one theme you keep returning to? I’m a bit of a country girl at heart so I love mixing country with preppy looks and frilly collars, with a more tom boy masculine feel. I always go back to this and I absolutely love anything vintage. 

 The  Dougal  range features colourful and wonderful Aussie influenced prints.

The Dougal range features colourful and wonderful Aussie influenced prints.

What's the best part about working with your father? He has such a quirky sense of humour, we will often have a bit of a laugh about the designs he comes up with! 

“Ultimately, I love that I get to be a part of his drawings and he gets to be a part of my designs - we’re a great team.”

What are you are loving right now? I’m pregnant and can’t really travel so I’m loving travel books… I tend to get lost amongst them and feel like I’m there! Right now I’m reading Bill Bryson - it’s an hilarious take on travelling through Europe. Gucci clothing, B by Balenciaga perfume (my husband just bought this for me Duty Free, it has the lovliest scent), Hamish and Andy and gardening with my family.

 The delightful  Aussie Crustacean  beach dress from  Dougal .

The delightful Aussie Crustacean beach dress from Dougal.

What’s in store for you in 2017? A new baby and a potential collaboration with The National Gallery of Victoria.

Thank you Arabella! | Dougal @wearedougal

In Focus | Into the Sea . Kara Rosenlund

In Focus | Into the Sea . Kara Rosenlund

In Focus | Happy Melon Studios

In Focus | Happy Melon Studios