Nikki Parkinson chats to the husband and wife team behind Sunshine Coast label, Tulipani.
TULIPANI’S UNVEILING at the 2007 Mercedes-Benz Brisbane Fashion Festival may have been an Australian first for three-year-young Queensland label, but its designers are no strangers to fashion’s world stage.
In fact, the husband and wife team behind the label brought with them a bag of international fashion cred when they moved from the US to Sunrise Beach five years ago.
Nick Scalisi and Ilona Karme-Scalisi met in New York – Nick already had a label (Madonna and Gwen Stefani wore his T-shirts) and Ilona was working on a children’s label.
And before making the ultimate seachange downunder, they had six labels under their control.
Which begs the question – why leave all that behind to start over in another country?
“After 9/11 we re-thought our life,” says Canadian-born Ilona.
“My whole family had migrated to Australia in the ’80s… we knew we didn’t want to live in a city, so we arrived here looking for a new place to live… then started at Byron Bay and drove north,” she says.
The drive ended on the Sunshine Coast and Ilona, Nick, an Italian-born American, and their daughter Tatiana, nine, are more than proud to call the Coast – and Australia home.
Tulipani is the sum of the pair’s creative talent, their new beachside surroundings and the fashion backgrounds both bring to the design table.
“We are definitely influenced by where we live… the carefree lifestyle lends itself to casual elegance,” Nick says.
Nick and Ilona work as a well-oiled team, rarely switching off from the creative process.
Nick’s original artwork forms the basis for prints used on fabrics in Tulipani’s designs; Ilona brings the technical know how of patterning to the table.
“We are constantly throwing ideas back and forth,” Ilona says.
Tulipani’s target market is a woman who is sure of her personal style but is not afraid to push the boundaries a little.
“She’s not conventional; she’d rather stand out than conform. She has a strong point of view and doesn’t necessarily follow the rules,” Nick says.
Apart from Nick’s signature prints, Tulipani continues to win fans for its cut and flattering silhouette courtesy of a skilful use of fabric and design.
This season’s diverse collection of dresses, skirts, tops and pants is anchored by black and white but look for block colours and prints that surprise in blues, orange, green and yellow.
Sport and resort style pieces sit side by side with glamorous maxi gowns, stunning silk “ladies who lunch” dresses, edgy club wear styles and sophisticated shirt and skirt work options.
It’s a formula that works, Nick says.
“We like to play around with fabrics and different mixes in a fabric. We’re always adding something different and twisting things around.”
Sunshine Coast stockists:
Charmant, Mooloolaba; Other stockists in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne:
p 3846 3856 www.tulipani.com.au