Studio Visit

The Remarkable Home + Atelier Of Melbourne Tailor Emily Nolan

Emily Nolan started her eponymous label, E Nolan, in 2018 with the aim to build a considered wardrobe for ‘all women and LGBTQIA+ folk’.

With an all-embracing approach to fashion, it’s no surprise the garment designer’s HQ inside the old MacRobertson confectionary factory in Fitzroy — ‘the birthplace of Freddo Frogs and Cherry Ripe’ — acts as an all-encompassing workshop, studio, dressing room, and finally, home.

We visited the made-to-measure tailor inside her multi-purpose creative space, which she describes as having ‘Mad Hatter energy’ — take a tour below!

Bea Taylor

Garment designer Emily Nolan’s home and studio inside the old MacRobertson confectionary factory in Fitzroy.

A porcelain dog named ‘Arctic Rex’ sits on an in-built shelf. ‘Arctic Rex’ was named after an Uber Driver, a ‘wonderful storyteller’ who spent most of his 50s in Antarctica.

The lounge room is also the dressing room, where client fittings take place.

Emily stands in front of the gallery wall she did herself with Frames Ready Made and hung by Alex Hangs.

E Nolan is known for its made-to-measure suits! ‘Fashion, for all its fabulous image, can make a lot of people feel excluded and intimidated. Particularly in regard to size or gender,’ says Emily, whose label caters for sizes from four to 22.

One of Emily’s many copies of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ sits in the middle of the bookcase.

Emily says she wanted to ‘create a space and a made-to-measure product for clients that weren’t catered to.’

The floor-to-ceiling shelving is a standout feature in the room!

‘Our workroom/head office is on the middle floor. It is a functional space, everything has its place in the home. The only space I am allowed to inflict chaos on, is my desk. I have these two great big pinboards behind the desk. If there’s something on my desk that has sat there for more than three weeks it usually ends up on the board.’

‘[We’re] redefining the concept of a retail/clothing space. It feels like people are coming into an E Nolan wonderland, and I am Cruella meets Patty and Selma,’ the made-to-measure tailor says.

‘I like to create mementos for the wardrobe. I think it’s a wholehearted approach to getting dressed in the mornings, to reach for something you bloody love,’ says Emily.

Emily has designed and pattern-made 13 lapels, three pocket styles and selected many linings, canvas structures, shoulder expressions and buttons to choose from.

Emily says clients coming to visit her home/atelier can expect, ‘Expertly tailored, perfectly fitted garments, and a bedside manner with a dirty mouth and a sense of humour.’

The E Nolan made-to-measure process consists of three fittings, and Emily hosts between 30 – 35 fittings a week.

Bea Taylor
24th of July 2023

Emily Nolan’s place is filled with treasures. Not those bedecked in gold, or even similar prized materials, but rather those steeped in memories.

The made-to-measure tailor’s bookshelf, for instance, houses a growing collection of various copies of Alice in Wonderland – something her brother has found and purchased for her every year since she turned 18. Her fridge is littered with hand-written notes — ‘nothing quite like a reminder that you’re loved when you’re searching for snack’ — and there’s a porcelain dog named ‘Arctic Rex’, which is a reminder of an Uber Driver (‘and wonderful storyteller’), who spent his 50s in Antarctica (and one can only assume, was named Rex).

There are other things too, like the mirrored room divider (which used to be part of the old department store ‘Georges’ on Collins street), white fibreglass sculpture chairs by Functional Sculpture, Cassandra Chilton’s Cigarette vase and a thoughtfully curated salon hang.

Perhaps what catches the eye the most though, among these treasures, are the racks of custom-made jackets, pants and tops around the room, and paper suit patterns hanging from the ceiling. For Emily’s home is also her workshop, studio, and dressing room.

‘I love creating and living in the same space,’ she says. ‘It isn’t for everybody, but I feel most myself like this’.

She moved into her apartment inside the old MacRobertson confectionary factory in October last year, and has been running her business and living in the converted Fitzroy warehouse ever since.

‘Running a small business is relentless, and I do have to compartmentalise the different hats I wear,’ she says. ‘But, I do that with my time, rather than my space.’

Emily sees clients between 10am – 6pm, and then pattern makes and gets her ‘admin ducks in a row’ after dinner until 1.30am. ‘I like working at night whilst everyone is asleep,’ she says. ‘There are few interruptions, and it feels like you have a secret.’

There is some separation within her three-story home. Each floor has a different purpose; the bottom floor is the dressing room for clients and the Ready-To-Wear showroom, it’s also where Emily’s kitchen is; the E Nolan workroom and head office is located on the middle floor, also known as the living room; and the third floor is Emily’s bedroom.

‘As I walk up the stairs to the bedroom, I try to strip off the work day that has been,’ she says. ‘It is my cubby house, no work comes with me up that last flight of stairs.’

Emily describes her home/workshop/dressing room/studio as having ‘mad hatter energy’. But, for a brand that painstakingly prioritises clients’ needs and wants through a bespoke made-to-measure service, having work intimately woven throughout Emily’s own home seems, to us, to be the perfect fit.

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