Matteau’s designer Ilona Hamer on fashion trends, style and swimwear


What are three essential items in your wardrobe?
A white Matteau shirt, vintage Levi’s and Manolo Blahnik “Susa” sandals; I have them in multiple colours.

What are your go-to accessories?
Regardless of the many handbags I’ve collected over the years, I carry a woven market basket that I got in Barcelona every day, whether winter or summer. Oliver Peoples “Jaye” sunglasses. And a pair of gold Tiffany hoop earrings never go astray.


What would you wear…
…on a first date? A comfortable black dress and sandals.
…on a plane? I wear the same thing every time: Christopher Esber bias-cut trousers with a cashmere sweater, a blazer and Converse high tops.
…to the Oscars? I would call my friends at Chanel and ask for a really simple, but gorgeous, black dress.

Do you have a favourite fashion designer?
Christopher Esber makes interesting, intelligent and provocative clothing.

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What’s your favourite fashion era?
The ’70s – people had more style. Everything is so much more about clothing now, not style. You can put everybody in the same outfit, but people who have good style and character and know how to wear clothes well, that’s what I find more interesting.

And your favourite fragrance?
I wear Sycomore by Chanel and L’Ombre dans l’Eau by Diptyque.

Favourite childhood outfit?
A white, pleated sailor’s dress with blue trim that I wore when I was three.

And your worst fashion mistake?
Far too many to describe between the ages of 15 and 20! I grew up with The Simple Life and Paris Hilton. I wasn’t in a Juicy Couture tracksuit but I did have a Von Dutch hat.

What was your first fashion moment?
Travelling to India to shoot Catherine McNeil with the late Richard Bailey for Vogue Australia. We were there for 10 days, staying in a 300-year-old palace, exploring the towns and having the most wonderful time. I celebrated my 21st birthday on that trip and it will forever be in my heart.

What’s at the top of your wish list?
A gold Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co Doughnut bangle. A girl can dream!

Is there something you would never wear?
The majority of things! You won’t catch me in anything too fussy or trendy. I’m a classicist in that sense.


Is there a current trend you like?
I’d actually like to see fashion trends die off – the constant churn and burn, and the insatiable appetite for new things is making everything feel irrelevant before it even hits the market. We need to change our mindsets and start thinking about what clothing we need to live our lives without being excessive. We all have a social responsibility now to be accountable for what we are buying, who it is coming from and how it is made.

Who’s your favourite fashion icon?
Women like Lauren Hutton or Charlotte Rampling, who have really good style and a lot more going on than just their clothing.

What do you like to wear on a casual Sunday?
Hopefully a swimsuit at the beach.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale November 22. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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