FashFest Designer Profile – 4 Minutes 33

by The Editor

FashFest Logo

This article is part of an ongoing series showcasing local fashion designers who will appear at FashFest from 1 – 4 May 2013.

Designer Profile 2 – 4 Minutes 33

Gemma and Francesca - 4 Minutes 33

4 Minutes 33 – Francesca and Gemma

Geometric cuts, an Asian influence and creative use of layering – these are just some of the attributes of local oufitters 4 Minutes 33 that have, in a short time, established them as a dynamic though functional label.  Here’s how they describe themselves:

4 Minutes 33 is an innovative women’s wear label that uses design as a means of communicating poetic expression. By enabling the wearer to develop personal style and individuality the clothes are able to transcend age, body shape and culture. www.4minutes33.com

Travelling North - Design 1

We sat co-creators Gemma and Francesa down with a list of 20 questions in order to discover even more about their history and influences.  While their designs have a certain serious gravity, their responses to our questions revealed a sense of fun and playfulness. By the time you’ve read through all of 4 Minutes 33’s responses you’ll know a lot more about some of Canberra’s more intriguing designers.

  1. Our names are: Gemma Jameson and Francesca Altenburg
  2. Our label is called: 4 Minutes 33
  3. We graduated: in 2008 from The Canberra Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Design (Fashion)
  4. The theme of our collection is: Undecided!!!
  5. The next challenge we face is: HUGE! We have to finish winter production and design and prepare our summer collection ready for the trade show Premiere in Sydney in April and of course prepare for FashFest. This all goes on at the same time as taking on a teaching role, attempting to become marketing gurus and the general running of a small fashion business…Travelling North - Design 2
  6. As a child, my favourite object was:   Gemma – My dress up box. It was full of awesome clothes and I could pretend to be someone famous and glamorous.
  7. The craziest item I’ve ever designed was: Francesca – A costume depicting a storm cloud. It was a stupid thing to be doing in a Canberra winter and everyone else would have changed tack. I was gluing wadding onto a chicken wire frame and then spray painting it. My hands were glued, and I think I lost a few brain cells from toxic inhalation! But it was a good storm cloud!  Gemma – For the Fashionably Early parade at GAD last year I designed a collection of funeral wedding dresses. They ranged in size and the last one weighed about 15kgs and had about 10 metres of fabric in it. It had four layers to it and I had to dress the model correctly in the space of a shoe box and about 1 minute. It was a really fun project though and I was really happy with the result.
  8. My biggest personal fashion regret is:  Francesca – I hate it when I am rushed and have to go out but don’t have enough time to make yourself look good or don’t have the right clothes with you when you are travelling.  Gemma – I probably have lots of cringe moments like wearing Kaftans to out of uniform days and then wearing my school uniform more after I finished school than at school but it was all experience and it is fun to experiment and try different things. 
  9. We are inspired by: Generally in our label we are inspired by author Haruki Murakami, photographer Yamamoto Masao and film maker Wong Kar Wai. We also find additional inspiration from other books, films, exhibitions and the concept behind our name which is a reference to a John Cage composition of 4’33” of silence. This represents a bracket of time, a space, a pause, space between the body and the garment, space between the ground and the sky. We love the way the above artist can transform complex themes in to simple and beautiful moods, moments and ideas.
  10. A model I would like to work with is: Francesca – Any of the supermodels from the 90’s – Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen. They are fascinating people and they would know how to do their job really well and bring a wealth of experience. I would also just like to hear about their lives. Gemma – Guinevere Van Seenus – she is an amazing photographic model. Travelling North - Design 3
  11. A designer I would like to collaborate with is: Francesca – I would like to work with anyone that is really good at what they do. It would be an awesome learning opportunity. Gemma – I would be so scared but I would love to watch Yohji Yamamoto at work. I don’t know if I could collaborate with him but he is a master of what he does and it would be fascinating to watch.
  12. The most challenging material we work with is: Light silk. It is really hard to handle properly as it moves so much on its own and is fragile and just hard work!
  13. My favourite part of Canberra is:  Francesca – My flat. It has great light and is full of objects that I love and I don’t get to spend enough time there. Gemma – Ainslie. This is biased because it where I live but it is a beautiful suburb full of interesting intersections and awesome trees. We also wake up to kangaroos lounging in our garden hanging with our neighbours cats – it’s pretty amazing.
  14. If I weren’t doing this I would be:  Francesca – Probably working as a graphic designer. I’ve worked and studied design for 18 years now and it is something that I can’t let go of. I think working for someone else in fashion you often don’t get to be creative whereas if you were working as a graphic designer you are actually getting to design things and be creative.  Gemma – Trying to find a job in the creative field that would pay me a great wage. I want to continue to work in a creative environment and would like to be able to earn money from it.
  15. One thing I’ll never understand is:  Francesca – Why they can’t get the temperature right with air-conditioning in buildings. It’s too hot in winter and too cold in summer but stuffy if you turn it off and getting a comfortable room temperature doesn’t seem like it a should be too hard.  Gemma – When receiving bulk fabric it is, more often than not, not as nice as the sampling fabric. Very frustrating when you have sold garments in a lovely fabric and then have to send out the produced ones in a fabric that is of a less quality.Travelling North - Design 4
  16. If our designs were a holiday destination they would be: Winter in Japan. It makes you want to layer and they would fit in well aesthetically and conceptually there.
  17. A fashion trend that should never return is: Gemma – Frizzy hair and too much blush! It is just not necessary.
  18. Someone who is always well dressed is: Vivienne Westwood. It’s like she puts on her clothes and then forgets about them and is comfortable in herself. She also has a sense of humour with what she wears which is fun.
  19. The last thing I read was: Gemma – The Bathing Women by Tie Ning. And I found it: In my Christmas pile from Mum.
  20. You can buy our designs at: In Canberra you can buy our designs at the Department of the Exterior in Manuka. For a more extensive stockist list please check our website.Travelling North - Design 5

The contact details.
Website: www.4minutes33.com
Email: info4minutes33@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/4minutes33

All images:
Model: Navchaa Tumurbaatar
Make-up: Lauren Cataldo
Hair: Lauren Cataldo
Photographer: Lori Cicchini

Travelling North - Design 6