Celebrated designer Anne Somoff re interprets leather fashion like no other designer in Perth. With over forty years in the fashion industry Anne has set some extra ordinary high standards when it comes to original custom leather designs of garments and handbags, as well as creating strong and unique fashion statements. Her understanding of the subtleties of leather’s individual characteristics makes each piece truly unique and they become a work of art with the intricate patterns from different hides. Many of the designs are one off and are all individually handcrafted. From her work rooms in Fremantle Anne offers a made to measure service, as well as variations on standing styles to suit individuals needs.
Anne Somoff immigrated to Australia the daughter of a German family which was renowned over many generations for producing high quality leather shoes. The companies were noted as the designers ad manufactures of lightweight running shoes worn by Herb Elliot when he ran the miracle mile, and later they established a market for football and cricket boots, even exporting to the West Indies.
The craftsmanship, eye for design, artist flair took Anne’s love of design into her leather Fashion business by 1967.
Anne grew up in an artistic yet practical environment and once shown a well tanned piece of leather can turn it into a stunning design item of apparel. In this way she makes her own garments and handbags, from the initial selection of hides to the hand manufacturing and crafting to the final unique piece. To Anne designing is innate and a gift, it is a natural expression, a part of ones self. For Anne it is a question of balancing creativity and artistic expression with pragmatic common sense, her unique manufacturing proposition is unquestionably her ability to bring those two very necessary attributes together and allow them to function cohesively and in harmony.
One day a traveler came into the factory and showed her some thin kangaroo garment leather which was very appealing and she started working with and coming up with designs – mostly for friends at this point.
Through her involvement with then Department of Industrial Development with the exporting of Kangaroo Leather boots and running shoes she was discovered. A show case at Perth airport that the department provided resulted in immediate orders from the local Myer Department store. The leather garments she created soon became best sellers and had to be purchased by buyers nationally.
In the beginning the clothing was produced at her fathers shoe factory. They laughed as they had to watch in case a running shoe spikes were attached to the dresses, or football boot uppers did have some decorative floral print patterns stitched on.
Many other boutiques were supplied throughout Australia. David Jones in Melbourne offered her, her own floor space in their 1st floor designer fashion department. This later resulted in supplying the prestige’s David Jones Sydney in Elizabeth Street. As well as David Jones Stores Nationally.
She sees much in shapes, shadows on walls, angles of buildings and there is a great deal of inspiration to be drawn from nature itself. What Anne aims to do is convert those images and by processing them through a creative filter, produce garments which are inspired by the original ideas and remain linked to them in some special way.
Qantas flight magazine had a focus on work of Australian designers with the idea to present Australian themes. Anne’s design of a huge ghost gum with naked branches into a garment resulted in a remarkable piece of artist work, which was later displayed at the Rockefeller Centre in New York.
Anne also was asked to present a fashion parade at the Adelaide Grand Prix. It was summer, hot colourful and noisy, she wanted to emphasis all these influences and created a collection of strong dynamic colours with a swirling Latin American influence and yet reflective of Australia.
I parallel with this creative departure from the norm is her trail blazing approach to the use of new materials, from emu to fish skin. Minister Ernie Bridge launched the collection of Emu garments from Wiluna, to promote the emu farming industry and the commercial efforts of the aboriginal people in the tannery business.
Later with the encouragement of the Department of Agriculture, Anne started to work with Merino leather, a far more difficult product to manage, along with a value adding to a material which otherwise would be wasted. Anne has developed a special niche with merino, and this had resulted in a unique product range of accessories, bags and backpacks.
Anne now concentrates on designing garments that sell in her own boutique, catering for many local and international clients, who love and appreciate her unique work. She specializes in custom made garments for both men and women. She invites you to her work shop in Fremantle.