Oprah and Young Designers Put Australia Back on America's Radar

Australia has never been on my top ten list of places to visit. The trek just seemed too far.  Watching Oprah and her choice viewers explore the alternately beach-and-desert-riddled terrain, however, has made me rethink an excursion to the land down under.

Lola & Bailey designers, Cheri and Theresa.
Recently, I found even more reason to take a trip to the Outback.  Australia is home to a talented pool of young jewelry and fashion designers.  I had the privilege to meet many of these designers at the "G'Day USA Designer Preview" sponsored by Woolmark, the world's most recognized textile symbol.  Most of the designers showcased don't have a retail presence in the America...yet. But they will.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Lola & Bailey "Sun Dial" necklaces.

Lola & Bailey: This quirky brand is the brainchild of BFFs Theresa Nguyen and Cheri Flewell-Smith, who used their background as graphic designers to make a bold line of costume jewelry (some of the necklaces were inspired by the sun dial) and trendy message totes that sell for under $100.

Totomoto-Australia designer Cynthia Ellis.
Totomoto-Australia: Every piece of Totomoto-Australia jewelry is handcrafted and inspired mostly by the country's beautiful flora and fauna.  Any fashion-forward vixen would love to own one of designer Cynthia Ellis's brass statement pieces dripping with replicas of sea horses and butterflies.

Designer Paula Kyle Walden.

Paula Walden: Lady Gaga would go ga-ga for a piece of Paula Kyle Walden's jewelry (cheeky toy soldier-adorned bracelets) or for one of her eye-catching "Bow to Me" head pieces.  The crafty 27-year-old designer is a former model with a killer sense of style and sense of humor to match.

Ghost & Lola: It's easy to see why pieces from Kim McClintock's ethereal jewelry line were featured on "True Blood." The fantastical collection is inspired by the designer's background as a visual artist and combines vintage and contemporary objects.

Serpent and the Swan: The brainchild of twisted sisters Hayley and Lauri Smith, the Serpent and the Swan will surely find a following amongst morose New Yorkers with a fascination for well-crafted, basic black separates.  Each piece is uniquely adorned with an animal motif -- be it a row of hand carved hummingbird buttons, a horse-head zipper tab, or a double-headed wolf brooch.

Photos by Tracy E. Hopkins


  1. Those Lola & Baily necklaces are gorgeous and definitely a statement necklace!



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