Internationally acclaimed Australian fashion designer Heidi Middleton was only three years old when she moved with her parents and elder brother to the rural outskirts of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane. Until that point, the family had lived in the conservative enclave of Sydney’s North Shore. ‘My parents are both quite free-spirited, and I think they felt a bit claustrophobic in the city and needed to break free and go on an adventure.’
After studying Commercial Art at Queensland College of Art, then working in advertising as an art director, Heidi joined forces with a local friend, Sarah-Jane Clarke, and started making clothes. They set their sights on a global platform. The first stop was London, where they sold jeans at the Portobello Market. Then in 1999, when their visas were due to expire, they returned to Australia and launched what was to become a cult label: Sass & Bide. Within ten years it had become an international fashion empire.
By 2011, Heidi and Sarah-Jane were ready for a change. They sold the controlling share of their company and stayed on as creative consultants until the remaining share of the business was sold in 2014, and then stepped out of it altogether. Now free to travel, Heidi and her family moved to France for a twelve-month sabbatical. They settled into a light-filled Parisian apartment in the eighth arrondissement and Heidi found a studio in the north-western neighbourhood of Clignancourt, where she reignited her love of painting, drawing, collage and ceramics.
Back in Sydney, Heidi’s lovingly incubated creative concept, ArtClub, was born. The online-only atelier offers rare vintage garments for sale along with Heidi’s paintings and original clothing designs. The antithesis of fast fashion, each new piece is created from remnant fabric that she saves from landfill, and is designed to be handed down through generations. They are sewn in Heidi’s atelier by local collaborators, each of whom signs and numbers the garments like limited-edition artworks before they are mailed to customers.
ArtClub is located in Surry Hills, in the heart of the city and the company has a wonderful buzz and energy. Heidi continues to adjust her life to find the right rhythm and flow, and by living with an open heart and expressing her inner world through art, fashion, poetry and interiors, she has become an inspiring example to like-minded women around the world.
Heidi manages ArtClub from her atelier in Surry Hills in the heart of Sydney and escapes on weekends and holidays to her amazing house in Palm Beach – which looks more like a villa in the Mediterranean than coastal New South Wales.
This extract was shortened for digital re-publication.
‘A Room of Her Own’ is out now from Thames & Hudson. Buy a copy here!