Feb 21, 2013 02:20
by Brenda Cunningham
Let's face it, we would all love to have uber-stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe waiting outside the change room or at least Trinny and Susannah on speed dial (wouldn't we?) but as that's somewhat unlikely, a local and more affordable option is not that tricky to track down. Cue Designer Forum’s glam Gold Coast store (or Castle Hill and St Ives in Sydney) run by owner Karen Young, a designer/stylist.
Designer Forum is a fabulously over-the-top experience for every confused or nervous shopper who needs an outfit for a big night, a complete wardrobe overhaul or just an up-to-the-minute fashion fix. Why do we love shopping there? Easy. It’s not intimidating, despite the luxe surrounds, and every sales girl is not just fashion-savvy but practical and friendly, even if you are towing a couple of cranky toddlers.
Karen Young, a stylist with her own ranges, Jiara and Deciduous, trains every sales assistant. They are also mentored by a head DF stylist and come from some of the best fashion colleges and TAFES in the country.
The flagship store in Queensland opened in 2008, but Karen had been styling clients for more than a decade before that. “Before Trinny and Susannah, Karen would see private clients - take out the pieces they love in their cupboards and work with those pieces, then put all the rest of their clothes in the bin. She’d go shopping with them and certain stores would give her discounts,” says DF operations manager Karla Dow.
The original store in Robina, on the glam Gold Coast, has look-at-me orange and red Chinese lanterns on the ceiling, and on the floor the store has hoovered up the latest and best Australian and international designer offerings which stand like artworks on the racks against white walls. (There are too many designer labels to mention, go to www.designerforum.com for the complete list.)
“When you put Karen in a store she comes alive,” says Karla. “She styles their wardrobe for their lifestyle and, like our other stylists, teaches you how to get the investment out of your clothing. In an ever-evolving fashion world, says Karla, “Karen is not afraid to wear anything, anywhere - she’ll go somewhere in Sass and Bide pants with a Supre jumper - it’s about feeling good.”
The walls of their stores carry positive messages, says Karla, and she says they are not empty platitudes, they carry through to everyone in their business from the shop floor to the warehouse. “Every day we post a positive message on Facebook that keeps you grounded,” she says. Part of the business’s philosophy is to “be you and don’t worry about anybody else.”
Karla says a typical customer is aged between 18 and 49 and is someone who wants to “embrace a new experience in an outfit, feel good in something different and confidently know the pieces will work back in their wardrobe.” They also want “some reassurance [but] a lot of of women already know what suits them.”
Before you can say Anna Wintour you will find those glittery Sass and Bide pants or some other piece you have been coveting. “Our more absurd pieces are often the pieces that walk out the door first - like the glitter or polkadot pants, neon jewellery … some of our shoppers are real fashion connisseurs and have to have the latest statement pieces and be in the moment.”
These days, thanks to celebrity stylists “everyone’s a bit more aware that there’s help out there if you need it” and everyone could do with a little styling know-how from an expert. “Styling is more about figuring out your cupboards,” says Karla. “It’s not just for celebrities.”
Address: Shop 4077, Robina Town Centre Drive
Robina Town Centre,
Tel: (07) 55 809 524