Lucy Laurita is a Melbourne based fashion designer who has a wealth of expertise that can only be accumulated over time. Since launching her own label Leiela in 2005, her reputation for glamorous high fashion and exceptional personal service has continued to grow.
Recently rebranding the label to Lucy Laurita, her gowns are sold through various independent boutiques – she also offers a made to order service by private consultation.
Lucy is passionate about her involvement in the creative community. Over the years, she has made costumes for various theatre productions and was proud to be selected as the costume designer for ‘TITANIC The Musical.’ She also credits her incredible enthusiasm and drive to an unending love for what she does, a sense of humour, and the ability to never stop learning.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Lucy to discuss her career in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:
Tell us your full name and something about yourself.
My name is Lucy Laurita, a mum blessed with two gorgeous kids while balancing life as a fashion designer specialising in Women’s Event Wear. As any creative would probably know, it’s not a career, it’s a lifestyle. You live it with all that you are.
Australian born, with an Italian heritage, I’m lucky to have such a great cultural mix. I now appreciate all the things I didn’t appreciate in my youth and I’m passionate about embracing diversity and offering a hand up to those in need. I’m also proud to be a Mental Health Foundation Australia Multicultural Ambassador.
The Lucy Laurita Gown Collection is exclusively available at Momento Dezigns, SANA Boutique, and online at Frockaholics.com. The design aesthetic is classic, simple lines that enhance the natural beauty of the female form. The gowns are designed to softly fall over the body, elegantly gliding as the woman confidently moves.
When you look at my collection, you need to live the idea that together we have created a story.
Lucy Laurita Viva Gown Silver Paloma Sequin: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinald
How did you get into the fashion industry?
My young self of about 8 years old decided then that I would grow to be a fashion designer.
Did they call me a dreamer? Yes, they did. Was it going to stop me? No.
My mother was a talented dressmaker who made all our family clothes. I was always in awe of her ability and her attention to detail in each garment she made but at the same time, I was a little annoyed that she refused to do more with her talent. She refused to teach me so I could only observe as she created.
I was shocking in my sewing classes in high school. I worked hard to put together a portfolio to end year 12, and I made it into the Melbourne Institute of Textiles (which has now been taken over by RMIT). I loved my years there, I made the most of my free time and I even got a part-time job as a workroom assistant for La Folie – a designer brand that was located on Chapel St South Yarra, Melbourne. It was here that I learned so much about garment construction. My boss was so patient with me and in hindsight believed I was capable.
How were you actually ‘discovered’?
My time at La Folie was coming to an end as the owners decided to move back to London. She asked me – “Lucy, who would you like to work for, where do you see yourself in the fashion industry?” How amazing was my boss right?
All I knew at the time was that I wanted to be creative, even theatrical in my designing but I had no idea of my niche. She made a call to Jenny Bannister. She’s an iconic Australian Fashion Designer, it just so happened Jenny was looking to hire a new design and production assistant and I fit the job description. I was in this role for 8 years till she began to wind down her production, it was that turning point in 2005 that I started my own brand, LEIELA.
Lucy Laurita Serena Gown Ivory Georgette: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinald
What do you like most about being a designer?
The opportunity to make other women feel comfortable and confident wearing a gown. The way we dress and the way we feel in what we are wearing is very powerful, making a huge difference to our success hence affecting our mental state. We thrive when we feel confident and it is a privilege to see a confident woman in one of my designs.
The downside to being a fashion designer?
Not enough sleep, creative minds are always active. I do my best work overnight so when I’m in the midst of preparing a new collection or planning a runway show I’m awake till 3 or 4 am then up at 7.30 am for breakfast with my family.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?
I would have to say working with director Mitchell Butel and The Sydney Symphony Orchestra creating gowns for “Funny Girl The Musical In Concert.” It was an honour to work with some of Australian’s most acclaimed talent. The cast included industry heavyweights such as Michala Banas, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Casey Donovan, Virginia Gay, Verity Hunt-Ballard, Dami Im, Maggie McKenna, Zahra Newman, Caroline O’Connor, Queenie van de Zandt, and Megan Washington. The show was held at the Sydney Opera House.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I have been fortunate to meet so many wonderful people each with their own interesting journey that has inspired me in some way. There is one that has been particularly memorable though. An intriguing gentleman knocked on my studio door in Ascot Vale, Melbourne years ago. He said he was in Melbourne for the day on a business trip and had found my designs online. He desperately needed a ‘Gatsby’ inspired gown as he was hosting a surprise party for his wife. He was a little vague about the details but very polite showing me and my assistant at the time a small photo of his wife to select a gown for her. We selected the gown and he kindly asked to have it shipped over to Sydney, so at that point, I needed to ask for his full name. He was Darryl Courtney-O’Connor AM, he was the founder of one of the biggest hotel chains in Australia and New Zealand, he was also the founder of the International College of Management Sydney as well as the Chairman of Tourist Corporation. I was blown away indeed, the reason for the ‘Gatsby’ themed party by the way just happened to be because part of ‘The Gatsby’ blockbuster movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed on one of his properties. Was his wife expecting a Gucci or Prada? I may never know but I’m sure glad he found my designs appealing.
Lucy Laurita Cameo Bubble Gown Silver Lurex Mesh Ice Blue Lining Front: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinaldi
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
To believe in my ability as a designer and as an advocate for causes I’m passionate about. It took me a long time to associate myself with my brand. It was only a few years ago when I had a chance encounter with International fashion designer Henry Roth. He’s a TV presenter, a Project Runway Australia mentor and currently, in the process of authoring a book I can’t wait to read called ‘The Stories I Told My Son.’ He became my mentor and he transformed my brand to become my personal brand. With his encouragement and guidance, I was able to rebrand and introduce myself and my label as Lucy Laurita. Henry Roth gave me the opportunity to learn something that was not innate. To believe I had something to contribute, that I made a difference to others and I had earned my title as a fashion designer – to own my name as my brand.
Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?
Yes, very supportive, they are always involved with the various projects I work on. The bonus is when my husband and kids get to get to come along to a stage show where I’ve dressed the talent. My kids gain valuable life experiences through being involved in charity events and meeting many talented Australians in the entertainment industry.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
More meaningful collaborations. I hope to continue joining forces with other creatives to do what we love and to be able to give back to our community. I am currently a Multicultural Ambassador for Mental Health Foundation Australia – I’m proudly raising awareness and helping to eliminate the stigma relating to Mental Illness. This is a cause I am deeply passionate about and will continue to support, hopefully making a difference by reaching those silently suffering.
Lucy Laurita Angel Gown Ivory georgette Back: Model Eryn Saunders / Image by Maurice Rinald
The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:
1. Last good movie I’ve seen: A Star Is Born
2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Authentic Kindness. A kind heart always shines through and lights up a room.
3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Set up a sustainable foundation to assist disengaged youth.
4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Skydive.
Lucy Laurita Suraia Top and Skirt set: Model Ruby Wilson / Headwear Viktoria Novak _CBR Fair – S2020 / Image by Eric Red Photography