Named after a biker gang from 60’s cult TV series Max and 99, fashion label Wheels & Dollbaby have been storming catwalks and main stages across the world since 1987.
Established by Perth born designer Melanie Greensmith (below right), the Australian based company can count Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry and Deborah Harry as celebrity fans regularly seen out wearing Wheels & Dollbaby.
The mix of classically cut modern designs, top quality fabrics with Rock n’ Roll attitude has made the label Australia’s biggest fashion success story. Their motto is ‘Clothes to snare a millionaire‘, we snared Melanie for a quick chat ‘backstage’.
Wheels & Dollbaby became big quite quickly, was it difficult to keep control of everything as you grew?
YES! but I just ran with the growth and considered myself lucky for the success so it wasn’t an issue for me.
Who was an inspiration to you when you were started Wheels & Dollbaby?
Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano in the early 80’s in London, it was an amazing time.
Is it difficult to keep coming up with new designs, and where do you get your inspiration from?
Not really as I have my classic favourite silhouettes and I try to work whatever I am inspired from into my art form, which is not big.
It’s a bit like AC/DC but designing.
Do you think it helps to give you some perspective living away from say, New York or London?
Yes I guess, as we just had our own thing going on and weren’t so influenced by others, we also thought we had to try much harder to succeed.
Is there a typical Wheels & Dollbaby customer?
It ranges from 16 to 60, some love our rock n’ roll type pieces then hot girls wanting our sexy more glamorous pieces. But all in all I think our clients want something different that can’t be found anywhere else (and makes them look hot!)
Any plans to open more stores in the UK or US?
I had plans to open in the UK until the GFC, then I thought I had better wait. I am now looking at that again as I love London and we have a cult following there. America is another matter, maybe sometime.
My fav Wheels & Dollbaby clothes are the 50’s inspired classic designs, do you have a favourite era in fashion?
I love the glamour of the 40,s and 50,s but I also love the whole 60,s 70,s Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg vibe too.
I love the shoot you did with Elvis Di Fazio, how important is getting the right photographer and models when putting a new collection together?
Very important and it’s the part I love doing the most, It deliveries my whole concept to people so its vital, Elvis is amazing. I’ve also worked with Justin Smith and Tony Notta they are all great.
One day I hope to work with Ellen Von Unwerth, she’s a gas and would so get my style!
What advice would you give youngsters interested in designing clothes?
Don’t do it for the money as there might not be any for a long while, but if you truly dig what your doing it will show in your designs and things will happen!
How did the collection with Dita Von Teese come about?
I met Dita In a hotel we were both staying at in London she was touring with Marlyn Manson at the time, we hit it off straight away and she loved my collection.
I asked her to model in a campaign and she said yes! I was really lucky as it was before she was super famous!! Then later we did a cardigan together which has done really well.
Girls are collecting them in all the different colours… so cool!
Are their plans for any other similar collaborations?
Well Katy Perry likes the idea so we will see.
Will we see any more stuff for guys in the near future?
No, men are so fussy and I just don’t have time for both men and women.
Who is your style icon?
Well I don’t have a particular icon but I love Anita Pallenberg in the 60’s, Julie Christie, Debbie Harry, Ava Gardner, there’s loads and it’s not just their styles in clothes, its everything.
Apart from wearing your clothes, what other tips do you have for ‘bagging a millionaire’?
Act like you already have your own Millions!!!
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