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Tara Whalley · Homely

Studio Visit

Tara Whalley is a maker of wearable art – eye-catching prints with distinctive flair, designed and made in Melbourne.

The textile designer’s latest collection, ‘Homely’, features her gouache paintings of favourite plants and keepsakes from her studio, alongside illustrations of friends. Today, Tara takes us through her vibrant little hoem studio and whimsical work.

11th December, 2017

Textile Designer at Tara Whalley at work in her studioPhoto – Amelia Stanwix.

Tara’s garments featuring new prints from her ‘Homely’ range. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Melbourne-based textile designer Tara Whalley. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Tara’s preferred media of the moment is gouache, but she also utilises software like Photoshop and Illustrator for her client work. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

The designer splits her time between her own label and creating prints for other Australian labels. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

‘My mum definitely had an influence on me wanting to create a label, I just didn’t expect to start it so young,’ tells Tara. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Elle Murrell
Monday 11th December 2017

Upon graduating from high school, Tara Whalley knew a creative career was for her, but was a little bewildered as she began to explore the many tertiary pathways. Things became all the more clear at her interview for RMIT’s BA of Textile Design. ‘I had a good feeling about it; you could take all your love of experimenting creatively and develop a product, and bring it back to that practical level,’ recalls Tara. ‘I loved the idea of learning how to create wearable art.’

Tara had grown up around beautiful fabrics, watching her mother make everything she wore. While at uni, the textile designer developed a little scarf label for the student market, and caught the attention of a store owner, who placed a wholesale order. This was the real moment Tara realised she also loved the ‘business side’ of fashion.

Another formative experience was a year spent in Guatemala, where Tara worked on product and textile design with war-affected women. Along with being an introduction to new products and processes, this year abroad led to a sustainable and ethical footwear collection for ALAS the label, and developing prints for Rebel Yuths Milan runway Collection.

Tara’s latest collection, ‘Homely’, explores feelings of connection and community. Based on her original gouche paintings, the vibrant textiles in this collection are inspired by her immediate environment – her eclectic home studio. Motifs include details from Persian rugs, house plants, as well as Tara’s closest friends and family. The ‘Held’ print, in particular, was inspired by a moment at Golden Plains music festival where the whole crowd joined in an embrace during a tear-jerker of a track. ‘I wanted to create a print with the feeling that you were being held by your friends and family wherever you went,’ the designer explains. Meanwhile, ‘Faces’ spotlights pals on a similar creative path – Esther of Togetherness Design and Esther’s partner Pelham.

Tara’s prints are fashioned into a variety of dresses, skivvys, skirts – ‘Trans-seasonal garments for effortless style’. Feeling comfortable, confident, in high-quality fabrics is a big priority for Tara, and all prints are limited edition to keep it small, unique and special.

Tara’s Wildflower Collection is also currently available, featuring a linen jumpsuit painted on a trip to central Australia with Edith Rewa, and wrap dress featuring her studies of beautiful flowers from Mt Kosciuszko. ‘I like to spontaneously drop new styles, as I feel like it makes people interested to stay in the loop!’

Find out more and keep up with Tara Whalley’s current ranges on her website. The designer is currently in Los Angeles, working on a new collection, and also has a curated pop-up in the works for next year.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net