A couple of months ago Karen Connell of Mijanou Swimwear launched her glamourous label at Komune Beach Club amongst oohs and aahs to the Gold Coast fashion elite.

I was lucky enough to get this stunning one piece custom made and have a chat to Karen about her label, and here is what she had to say...

After being co-creator of popular swimwear label Coco Riche, you’ve now started Mijanou – what’s it like to have sole control of your own label?

Its great to have total control of where the label is going and how you would like to present it to the market. Im definitely less stressed  working on my own and eager to build the image to a unique and more high end but still glamorous look.

How long have you been designing?

Well I grew up in a family that starting making fashion and selling at markets when I was 12.  They worked from home so I was very involved with helping out. I made my first pattern and garment , a chambre  jumpsuit when I was 16, my mum copied it and literally sold hundreds of them.

After finishing high school  I then went and did a Chemistry degree and worked as an analytical chemist for 6 years before leaving and setting up a store in Bondi called Girlfriends which carried labels such as Zimmermann and Third Millenium.  By then my parents had a store on Oxford St called Be-Bop and they encouraged me to start making pieces  for the store. My first dress I made I sold the same day for $150 which was a lot back then. 

I went and did a pattern making course and then taught myself to make patterns and sew. I mainly made evening dresses and also catered for the popular dance parties which was a great money spinner as my parents and I held the niche market in Sydney . Girls would literally flock to the two stores for their outfits. After having a baby I left the store and stayed out of fashion design for 12 years and then was encouraged by a partner to start Juliet In Stilettos which I did in 2004.

Your prints are extremely unique and you digitally print them on all our materials, do you design them yourself?

I design all the prints myself and they are printed onto suitable fabric so we can have co-ordinated swimwear and resort wear. Its great to have the exclusivity printwise as the choices are pretty limited otherwise and it also helps to define the image of the label.

Being of French heritage, do you get a lot of insipiration from Europe for your collections?

Definitely, but I actually tend to prefer the more flamboyant Italian designers such as Dolce and Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli. It is sometimes a bit OTT for the Australian market which is pretty laid back.

Your collections include swimwear and resort wear with exotic bikinis, full pieces, kaftans, harem pants and dresses – who is the Mijanou woman?

The Mijanou woman is elegant, glamorous and likes to be seen.

Where are you currently stocked?

We currently have agents in  Queensland and NSW and we are still confirming orders and stockists so watch this space! We will also be setting up our own e-boutique shortly and will be selling on the new online store bikini-bar at www.bikini-bar.com which will launch in the next couple of weeks. We also have been talking to a Miami showroom and plan to expand to the US when the time is right hopefully next year.

We are also very excited to be asked to feature in  international magazine Runway which is sold in 47 countries. Hopefully this will give us some international exposure.


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