HIGHLANDS CREATIVES // Tania Doria, Dress & Costume Designer
Highlands Creatives: Q & A with Tania Doria, dress & costume designer & maker
How did you get involved in your craft?
“I have always loved to draw and I began sketching fashion figures when I was about 10 years old, it seemed to come so naturally. One day a friend took me to see a fashion show that was put on by East Sydney Tech at Club Hall. I was 14…I remember feeling goose pimples and I said to myself, ‘I am going to study at this school.’ I forgot about it and studied visual arts at COFA in Paddington instead! I didn’t particularly love it, something just wasn’t right. I was reading horoscopes in a trashy magazine and it said ‘Go on and do that fashion course’, so I rang East Sydney Tech that day and went straight for an interview!”
Who or what are your biggest influencers or inspiration?
“I am definitely a theatrical person, so when it comes to inspiration it is always the masters of couture; Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. I think being quite shy earlier in my career, I could go wild through my creations. I adopted an extremely edgy, ‘over the top style’ whilst at fashion school. I also love music, so many of my ideas are influenced by artists such as David Bowie and Prince.”
What materials do you like to use in the making process?
“I love silk! I often say to my clients that the right fabric can either ‘make or break’ a dress. I love layering textures, particularly in the same colour. I love experimenting with recycled materials, old and new. I really appreciate the work that goes into designing and manufacturing quality fabrics.”
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to move into your field?
“I think the best advice would be to have a clear vision and also develop inner resilience as it can be quite tough in this industry. It definitely helps to know who you are so that your spirit remains in-tact!”
“There have been a few, but designing a stage costume for my hero, Cyndi Lauper, was definitely one of them. Hand-delivering a piece I made with my friend, Anna Plunkett, to Debbie Harry herself was an exciting day too. I am now getting wonderful satisfaction from dressmaking for brides using vintage-inspired styles. Seeing a beaming, blushing, beautiful bride in one of my gowns is always a high.”
“There was a point when I got fed up with the industry and its values and walked out on it to pursue my other dream; to be a singer. I studied at the Australian Institute of Music and found that I loved this creative endeavour too.
Plans for the future?
“I am extremely happy to be here in the Southern Highlands and as the only bridal couturier in the area. I plan to make as many beautiful things as possible and hopefully uplift and inspire others along the way. I am also in a band called Yakumama with my husband and some other band members, so I’m lucky to now balance both my creative work passions quite successfully. I have a studio and retail space in Mittagong now, so it’s great to have the ideal set-up to work with clients.
Why do you love being a creative in The Southern Highlands?
“I grew up in the Southern Highlands and moved to Sydney to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer. As much as I enjoyed the buzz and excitement that the city offered, I have always felt my soul feels at home in the country. Being of Italian heritage, I have connected with the European feel of the Southern Highlands. It’s just so beautiful here and the perfect place for creative ideas to flow.”
Find & follow Tania Doria:
Workshop / retail space: 96d Main Street, Mittagong