Designer Magdalena Duma – Crown Street’s Newest Player

Crown Street, Surry Hills is a hip-hop and happening shopping mecca in Sydney’s inner city. The newest kid on the block is designer Magdalena Duma.

Moving to Sydney, Australia from Poland in 1990, Magdalena’s roots are in fashion. Even at the tender age of 5 years, in communist Wroclaw, South West Poland she would pour over catalogues, smuggled in from West Germany.

She would choose designs she liked and have her mother make them for her.

At 8 years old she was given a mini sewing machine, and her path was set!

Magdalena’s mother, Malgorzta (Margret in English) is her muse, “a strong willed, creative woman, who saw no boundaries”.

Opening her boutique on November 14th 2012 at Surry Hills Magdalene is as vibrant and stylish as the designs she wore on a visit back to Poland last year.

Her label was born just after Christmas 2007, when she began selling her designs at Bondi and Glebe markets.

As demand grew, she branched out and opened a boutique in Newtown, Sydney’s inner west.

The move to Surry Hills was a natural progression, an organic process inspired by her changing clientele.

Magdalena’s clothes are gorgeous, and carry a little bit of her in every design.

They inspire confidence, elegance and are a little flamboyant, which I think sums up the essence of Australian women.

I think her designs could be worn by women ages 16 to 60 plus, and this is exactly what she aims for.

As Magdalena spoke of her mother, I could understand what an amazing woman she must have been.

A natural bohemian in a Communist country, that loved to wear a different coloured nail polish on every finger (smuggled in from the west mind you), she would be so proud of her daughter not just design wise, but as a person.

Her grandfather was a tailor, and went on to specialize in leather goods.

She has memories of the theatre involved with fittings. Coffee and biscuits were served, and the client made to feel special.

Magdalena has gone out of her way to evoke this feeling in her boutique, and there is nothing contrived about it. Her parents were in the fashion business too, so it seems it was a natural progression.

Studying at East Sydney TAFE, under the tutelage of Nicholas Huxley, from 1997 to 1999, Magdalena started designing professionally on graduation.

She feels fashion is an event. She loves to predict trends, but is also happy to re interpret with her own twist.

Three signature dresses follow her collections from season to season.

The Sophia, the Pencil Dress and the Sleeveless Pencil Dress.

These vary in colour and fabric, but keep an incredibly sexy silhouette.

So sexy, they come with a warning!

I challenge any woman to wear any of these three dresses and not create a stir.

Ladies these designs mean business!

There is a definite Roland Mouret-Victoria Beckham vibe to these pieces.

Her biggest designer influences come from Givenchy and Tom Ford. Both these houses know how to dress strong, feminine women, with a huge dash of sex appeal.

Galleries and movies are her main inspirations.

The former for prints and shapes, and the latter as design aesthetics.

In her last collection you can see references to Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette”, with subtle bows, ruffles and brocades being used.

In her new collection, Magdalena drew upon her last trip back to Poland, primarily the Museum of Pharmacy in Cracow. She chose to focus on the colour schemes there.

“The black and mahogany wood shelving, the bottles, animal and plant materials and the golden wallpaper that adorned the walls and ceilings”.

Her love of nature, and the history and culture of Europe are strong influences too.

First comes the theme, then she searches for fabrics.

She is incredibly tactile, and loves the feel and drape of fabrics.

Magdalena’s passion for fashion is infectious. As we sat and chatted on her comfy couch, she would leap up and show me a new piece, not quite ready for sale.

Stunning leather pieces with hand punched details, and delicate lace and silk designs. I couldn’t help but be as excited as she was.

All the while she was greeting clientele with a huge smile and a welcoming hello.

As a gorgeous young girl came through the door and started to browse, and chose a fabulous shift dress with colour panels.

We looked at each other and I said “she will look amazing in that frock”, “I know” agreed Magdalena.

She tried it and without hesitation bought it on the spot!

Magdalena has also branched to into children’s wear, with a small but interesting range.

I would have loved to have worn here clothes as a little girl.

Nautical stripes and my favourite, a leopard print jumpsuit (that I have tried to persuade her to make in adult size) are fun, fresh and age appropriate.

She stocks cute accessories, mainly neckpieces and some funky sunglasses!

A very good friend of Magdalena’s has created some truly amazing jewellery.

More like wearable art, they will be sold under the Magdalena Duma “umbrella”.

These are a must see, after trying a piece on, I was blown away, but that is for another story!

Magdalena Duma knows how women want to look, feminine, sexy and individual.

The perfect combination for any occasion.

So if you are in Surry Hills at Sydney, make sure you visit Magdalena Duma, Crown Street’s newest player.

Jo Bayley, Fashion Editor, The Culture Concept Circle 2013

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