This week at Melbourne My Style‘s, Jake Freeman talks to Alin Le’ Kal. Alin is one of Australia’s best-known couture fashion designers and is synonymous with making haute couture wedding gowns.
In an impressive career spanning over a decade, Alin is constantly in high demand, whether it be for a couture wedding dress or creating an outfit for a celebrity on the red carpet or featuring in an editorial shoot.
Le’ Kal is often the go-to designer for celebrity fashion advice and has dressed the likes of Nicole Scherzinger and Kelly Rowland and has even created gowns for various United Arab Emirates royals including dressing the wife of the Sheikh of Qatar who is a regular client.
In 2019, Alin became the first Australian designer to be invited to debut his collection at the Paris Haute Couture Week to critical acclaim.
When we interviewed Alin, the 34-year-old was driving to his South Yarra showroom from a meeting while taking work calls and orders and fielding questions from us. This week is a big week for him and his label as singer Sheldon Riley, from The Voice in 2018, will be representing Australia and performing at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy and will be wearing a custom-made outfit by Alin.
Where did you get the inspiration to go into being a fashion designer and wedding dressmaker?
“I knew incredibly early on that I wanted to work in fashion and make gowns and dresses. My auntie was a dressmaker, and my uncle was a tailor and that sort of started my interest in it. I grew up watching them cutting suits and dresses and putting them together and found it interesting. Also, my family are Middle Eastern, and we use to go to a lot of Middle Eastern weddings where the women were always so beautifully dressed, and I remember looking at the detail on those dresses.
My parents had wanted me to study law or be a doctor as all ethnic parents do. So, I studied law for about 6 months, but it was just not for me.”
So where did you go from there?
“I started working at Guess and was managing the store when I was 18 or 19 and while I was studying, I decided to start my own brand and started making dresses for my sisters and their friends for special occasions, while still working full time at Guess.”
Please tell us about the design you have created for Sheldon Riley, who will be representing Australia and performing at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest this week, how did this come about?
“So, Sheldon approached us. He had been a fan of our work and had been following us on Instagram for a while, I was not aware of that until we met for the first time. Sheldon told us he was going to perform at Eurovision this year and that he would love for us to create an outfit for him like no other.”
How long did it take to design and create Sheldon’s couture outfit?
“We had two months to do it, Sheldon was chosen for Eurovision in February, and he contacted us straight afterwards, so we had some time to play around with the look and the design. The contest is this month, May. It was an interesting, busy journey putting it together and working with Sheldon.”
Where did you get the inspiration for designing and creating Sheldon’s outfit for Eurovision?
“It was mostly based on what Sheldon wears; he wears a lot of black and dark colours and we wanted to brighten it up. He had inspiration from what I had worked on prior, so he was referring to a lot of pieces that we had posted on Instagram and we both wanted it to look pure and angelic as opposed to a darker outfit but keep it masculine. It took over 2000 labour hours in total and 29 garment specialists to create the outfit which includes attaching all of them (90,000 in total) feathers, pearls and crystals to it. (The outfit wears 38 kilograms).”
How does it feel when you are asked to design something for a global event like Eurovision with hundreds of millions of people watching?
“Extremely nervous (laughs) but excited.”
Is Eurovision the largest event you have created a design for a celebrity for?
“Yes, and I have worked on other major events such as dressing Daria Varlamova (2021 Australia winner) for the Miss Universe pageant. I have dressed for Miss Universe a few times, but this is definitely the biggest.’’
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
“I hope to expand the business and have more showrooms around Australia, particularly in Sydney as well as in other countries like the USA. I’d also like to continue showcasing at International Fashion Weeks, like the Paris Fashion Week we attended a few years ago.”
To see more of Alin Le’ Kal’s work or to have a consultation on either a bridal dress or evening wear etc or go to www.alinlekal.com.
The showroom is located at 246 Toorak Rd, South Yarra 3141.
The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest runs from 10 – 14 May.
Interview by Jake Freeman, words by Alin Le’ Kal