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What rejuvenates you?

Tengdahl spring summer fashion brisbane designer

We're back from holidays, refreshed and excited about the year that lies ahead! The Tengdahl team's festive break took us from sun-soaked backyard parties and scorched afternoons cooled by cocktails - through to strolling the Boulevard Saint Germain and skiing in France. Irrespective of what we did or where we were, we all agreed on one thing; holidays give us time to decompress and be open to inspiration. Sometimes it can be difficult to tap into our creativity and harness inspiration, with the 'admin' of life charging along at break neck speed! So during our holidays, we took time out to seek inspiration in everyday things, as well as the magnificent moments, to fuel our creative pursuits for the year ahead. Here's a little peek at the things we got up to over the break...

Tengdahl holiday wear luxury travel clothes


Paris inspires like no other city; for 20 years I've been coming here to relax, recharge and reset my sights on the next 12 months of creativity for Tengdahl. This year was extra special as I combined my annual trip with a family holiday. Even one of the most magical cities on earth seems all that more poignant when shared with loved ones, and as I soaked in the sights and my favourite back-street experiences with them, I saw this beautiful place through different eyes. Brett, Bridgette, Jemma and Anders and I then spent some time freshening up our skiing skills in Val-d'lsere.  Before I got on the plane to return home, I began sketching out the direction for our A/W2014 - can't wait to share it!   

Brisbane fashion designer Tengdahl


My memories of this summer will be filled with long days of dancing, cocktails and celebrations with family and friends. A particular highlight was catching up with some close friends for my dearest girlfriend's special birthday celebration. All three of us in this photo (top left) are wearing colour coordinated Tengdahl...of course! 

Australian designer fashion


I spent my holidays amongst a full house of loved ones, pets and renovations! I didn't have much down time these holidays, but it was surprisingly rejuvenating, just enjoying the luxury of unlimited time with the special people in my life. The photo in the top left shows me with my beloved mum (wearing my sequinned Tengdahl Christmas top!).My stepfather passed away last year and this was my mother's first Christmas without him; it made me more consciously appreciate how beautiful these cherished times are with family and friends.

What rejuvenated and inspired you during the festive break?  

Our new Australian made bikini

After 30 years of designing, I am excited to share with you my first swimwear design! The bikini is a tribute to the first collection I ever designed (way, way back...). It was an active wear range that I created during my time as an aerobics instructor, back in the 80's when I was establishing my career as a young fashion graduate. Fast forward three decades, and an upcoming trip to Qualia at Hamilton Island inspired me to create a bikini I could wear on my getaway. The fabric features the special Jacqui Conias fabric I have written about on this blog previously, with the dots comprised of tiny digital reproductions of Jacqui's beautiful artwork. 

I wanted the top to ensure the wearer feels comfortable, confident and is able to move around and have fun while wearing it, without worrying about fallout or slippage! While retaining the classic sexy triangle string bikini shape, I designed the top with this is mind, merging the triangle cup with a halterneck shape, ensuring the strap width extends above the collarbone.

I love wearing it with my Gypsy silk maxi, Gemma Sequin Cami, Silk Georgette Poncho and Silk Georgette Kimino. Shop the limited edition design here

Tengdahl Spring Racewear Styling Parties

Stuck for something to wear to your Melbourne Cup event this year? Tengdahl's annual racewear styling parties are a stress-free, quick and fun way to put together your entire spring racing look in one location, with free styling assistance from three of Brisbane's racewear experts.

Brisbane fashion designer Julie Tengdahl, jewellery designer Paula Hall and The Hat Box milliner Dale Olssen will join forces to provide one-on-one racewear advice to help you select the perfect outfit for your spring racing event this year.

Held at the Tengdahl Emporium and Brisbane Arcade stores, these styling sessions promise an easy and enjoyable spring fashion experience, providing free access to the most sought after advice from Brisbane’s veteran fashion designers and drawing from decades of experience dressing award winning race goers, celebrities, politicians and style leaders.

Feel free to pop in during your lunch break, grab a glass of champagne, view our fashion parade and get personalised styling from some of Brisbane's leading fashion designers. 

fashion designer brisbane racewear julie tengdahl

Racewear rules: Julie's styling tips 

  • Look for longevity! Invest in an outfit that can be worn for other purposes, many times over for years to come.
  • From your shoes to your dress and all the way up to your hat, whatever you wear should be comfortable and well-crafted.
  • racewear designer brisbaneIf a garment doesn’t fit properly, not only will you be repositioning straps, adjusting necklines and pulling on uncomfortable seams all day you also won’t gravitate towards wearing it again, hence you won’t get value from your investment.
  • Spring racing is less about following ‘trends’, and more about ‘enduring style’. Select a classic cut and inject a modern edge through the use of colour, prints, accessories or embellishments.
  • Consider the overall look. Whether you are buying a new dress or wearing something that’s already in your wardrobe, have it on hand when you select your headwear, jewels and shoes. It’s all about the entire look, rather than just individual pieces.
  • The spring racing carnival tradition is a perfect excuse to indulge in the ritual of ‘dressing up’, looking elegant and ladylike. Opt for mid, knee or calf length hemlines or make a statement with a pant suit or maxi skirt not a mini dress.
  • Be confident; whether you are aspiring for a fashions on the field position, or just sitting down to lunch with your girlfriends, your best accessory will always be an elegant sense of confidence!
Shopping Styles

Earlier this year, an interviewer asked me to name my greatest achievement to date, as a brand and a designer.

Winning awards, being stocked in major department stores and having flagship boutiques in Brisbane and Sydney's major shopping meccas were came to mind, but didn't strike at the heart of my pride in the label. As I explained to Styling You editor Nikki Parkinson in 2011, stores come and go and awards provide industry validation - but I had come to realise that "I didn’t need to play to the archetypal version of 'success' (ie. stocking in large department stores or internationally); I needed to dance to my own tune and do what made me feel fulfilled as a designer, which meant staying true to my roots, and letting my organic connection with my clients transcend through into what I designed." Maintaining a business model that facilitated this was paramount. 

Which came to mind as I sat, staring at that question on my computer screen. Looking back, I can now see that this re-think of my business in the early noughties resulted in my two greatest achievements; being able to maintain Australian-made status (much more difficult than it sounds in the current market), and evolving Tengdahl into an intergenerational label worn across a vast range of age groups.  

It's rare to make a living from designing fashion for over 30 years. And to still be there to see the daughters of my first clients coming in to buy the label, means the brand is still relevant and desirable for women of all ages. My design processes are also informed by these relationships with the next generation of luxury shoppers; they challenge me to continue pushing boundaries and seeking new, flexible approaches to design and styling.

The topic came to mind again when I spoke to Brisbane News this month regarding the shopping habits of different generations. Certainly the lines between how generations dress and shop are becoming blurred, with 50% of our e-boutique shoppers falling into the baby boomer and Gen X age groups, and all generations uniting in their desire for a personalised approach to shopping. Bloated and sick of the fast fashion culture that has prevailed for the past decade, their appreciation of styling advice as an organic part of the shopping experience and their desire to invest their hard earned money in clothing that will still be on trend and relevant long past the current season has become a 'must have' for discerning shoppers of all generations.

Click on the article below to view the full story, and comment below to share your top priorities when shopping...

Tengdahl S/S Collection launch at MBFF

Tengdahl spring/summer mercedes benz fashion festival

Last night we launched our S/S collection, Forever Young. The range is sensual in both look and feel, made from the finest natural textiles such as silk and french lace - as well as new-generation high tech stretch fabrics, designed for breathability, easy care and longevity.

The concept behind the range, which I discussed in this blog article, was the focus of the night - with Jacqui's beautiful rainbow-spectrumed prints floating down the catwalk in numerous incarnations, including the breathtaking Gypsy Dress, which took on a life of its own with a dramatic plunge neckline, jingling coin detailing and maxi skirt that shot colour down the runway. The same limited edition fabric has been crafted into a versatile garment, that can be worn as a dress, poncho or scarf (view it here). 

I could go on forever talking about the rare electric blue French lace, georgette capes and tangerine silk jumpsuits that literally feels like you are wearing nothing, but I'll let the pictures do the talking this time...

JT xx 

The parade was followed by a VIP party hosted by the Brisbane Arcade. Thanks to the guests who joined us for this special event!  

Check out Forever Young in the media this week...


tengdahl spring summer collection 2013 S/S13

This year I am excited to collaborate with artist Jacqui Conias to create a special series of bespoke luxury fabrics for my Spring/Summer collection. You can browse the full collection here. I wanted to share with you some insight into the process that goes on behind the scenes to create a fabric collection as it is quite a magic experience, seeing a physical object such as a painting, turned into a peice of fabric worn on someone's body!

Starting with a mood board, we begin with a series of inspirations and images to illustrate the ways the fabric will be used. My mood board is shown below (left), followed by Jacqui's collation of beautiful paintings and graphics (right), outlining the process of morphing a series of individual images into a pattern or graphic design, to be printed onto fabric. 

australian fashion designer julie tengdahl

The graphics included in the Spring/Summer collection are more than meets the eye; what appears to be a tiny dot on fabric from a distance is actually an intricately painted face. Jacqui turned key words (which had come to me while designing the collection) into geometric patterns such as the 12-pointed star, above.From a distance it appears as a shape, but up close the words are revealed as part of the structure. 

The artwork itself holds a special meaning for Jacqui. Each of portraits printed on the fabric was autioned off earlier this year to raise funds for the Royal Brisbane Women's and Children's Hospital's neonatal unit. The unit saved the life of Jacqui's daughter when she was born premature, and funds raised from this special series of artwork were used to fund the purchase of milk bank freezer for the unit.

Once the peices of art were rendered digital graphics and patterns, our fabric manufacturer created 'strike offs'. Strike offs are samples of the design on fabric, and helped us play with colour, size, intensity and pattern repeat combinations. Once the final round of strike offs were approved, the fabric was printed - for the S/S collection we used a combination of silks, cottons and georgette to layer the prints and contrast them with block colour.

Julie Tengdahl Jacqui Conias fashion designer artistFashion australia workroom tengdahl behind the scenes

I love the concept of garments giving art a second form, and second life, through fashion. Check out the final result of my collaboration with Jacqui on the catwalk at Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival or on facebook.

JT x 


Colour Me Happy

Bold, look-at-me colour is everywhere at the moment; from the runway at New York Fashion Week through to department store shelves and every cosmetic, clothing, jewellery, handbag and shoe collection in between. There really is no excuse not to have at least a little smattering of tangerine, violet, electric blue, fuchsia or neon yellow in your wardrobe - or at least in your make up kit - this season.

It bucks the trends of fashion eras gone by, where pretty bright florals and block colours were brought out in S/S and tonal or monochromatic dressing was reserved for winter. And funerals.

One of the defining aspects of Brisbane fashion is its willingness to immerse itself in colour. Splashes and clashes. Bold or demure. It might be those eternally blue autumn skies or rich green subtropical winter foliage that lines our streets during the colder months that makes us take to colour so enthusiastically. Either way, it speaks of health, confidence and vitality; and I love it.

Beyond just making us look fabulously bright and happy, colour has a physiological influence on the internal workings of our bodies, as explored by Huffington Post journalist Rachel Grumman Bender. The right colour can even make us look healthier than we feel.

I drew upon this concept when creating the current collection; the idea that by slipping on a certain colour, we can invigorate, inspire, energise and lift our mood. While looking damn good.

The collection is also about the quintessential lady. Being able to be strong and bold (through colour) - while also satiating our need for femininity and elegance through classic tailoring and come-hither lines that compliment curves and accentuate the ideal female form. Yes, even in winter.

As the weather cools, I hope this collection inspires you to throw open your arms to a new hue you’ve never tried before, and celebrate your femininity.

JT xx

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