Textile designer Cassie Byrnes is known for her lively, joyful art and playful fashion line, Variety Hour. Since she launched the label in 2016, her textiles have all been hand painted, designed and manufactured in Melbourne. ‘To me, fashion is all about the customer and making them feel fabulous. I love being able to make women feel beautiful, no matter age or size,’ says Cassie, of her labour of love and commitment to sustainable, accessible fashion. ‘I’ll often get a mother-daughter duo visit a stall and both find something perfect for them, which I really love to see!’
It’ll be easier to get your hands on one of Cassie’s distinctive designs from now on, with her long-term pop-up shop at 155 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy opening on June 23rd. Running for six months, the space will showcase Cassie’s new Honeymoon fashion collection followed by her summer line, along with original paintings on canvas and a forthcoming body of work inspired by her childhood in Queensland. ‘The store is going to allow us to get to know our customers so much better, and give us a much clearer understanding of exactly who we’re designing for,’ she tells.
After we teamed up with Cassie for her first TDF Collect art exhibition in 2016, she took the leap into working for herself full-time. She’s been diligently focusing on her label and relished the time and freedom to experiment, as well as to work on myriad commissions, from packaging to book covers – including for US Anthropologie (we all adore our Melbourne bowls!).
The Variety Hour pop-up sees Cassie push herself outside her comfort zone once more. ‘Honestly, I was not 100% confident in the decision until I had a chat with my friend and mentor Kristy Barber from Kuwaii – she was really encouraging and told me to go for it, so that kinda sealed the deal for me.’
Learning on the job, Cassie has transformed a white-walled space into an eye-catching, vibrant store. ‘Anyone who’s ever had a shop will know how many weird and unexpected costs keep appearing out of nowhere (the 200kg of Terrazzo tiles I used for my counter was so not part of the original plan) and we’ve had to rely on a lot of friends and family to help with the fit out,’ she reflects, before trailing off about fun trips across town to Derrimut and Altona seeking weird shop items.
Along with calling on family and friends for guidance, true to form, Cassie’s made some new pals along the way. ‘I’m kind of best mates with the guys at the Bunnings Collingwood paint shop now… but I’m also looking forward to not having to go there every day!’ she jokes.’Then again, after a year working solo on Variety Hour in my home studio, I am so excited about actually being around some other humans for a change!’
155 Gertrude Street
Open June 23rd to December 29th
Monday to Saturday, 11am-6pm
If you can’t make it to Melbourne you can visit Cassie Byrnes’ online store at Varietyhourstudio.com.