Slow fashion and country living: meet Saloon Design House
Nestled into the historic main street of Braidwood, you’ll find Saloon Design House—a boutique store “for the wise, the wild, and work-hardy–the muses and the matriarchs, the artists and entrepreneurs, the divas and daydreamers.”
Dressmaker Dena Pharoah-Pezzano and her business partner and designer Jane Magnus are the creative forces and owners of the boutique, where they make luxe and timeless clothing that’s inspired by the country.
For Dena, fashion and the creative process have always been a passion of hers.
“When I was a young teenager, I would make clothes from a lot of hand-me-downs, and then I would upcycle and recycle them and make them my own. My mum actually taught me how to sew in the early days, and I went straight from school to a fashion course and I’ve worked in fashion since then,” she says.
“It’s been a very long journey, and it’s branched off into a few different avenues over that time. It’s the fashion, but it’s also the creative part that I enjoy. It’s the making and the sewing and the fabrics.”
Offering a unique collection of one-off pieces handcrafted from vintage fabrics Dena has collected over the years as well as iconic Liberty of London prints, each piece from the design house is either one-off or strictly limited edition. And their new collection is no different.
Wonderful Wild features an array of dresses, mini dresses and vibrant 60’s inspired prints. According to Dena, the duo drew inspiration from the 60s.
“For Jane and I, she’s more of a 70’s girl—she really loves fabrics, colours, tones and shapes from the 70s—but I’m definitely more of a 60s lover. I think also there was just a really good movement at the time,” she says.
“We’ve used a lot of 60s reprints that Liberty has offered for this season. And I think that’s something that I really enjoyed, using and then being inspired by that.”
Not being inspired by one thing in particular, Dena says the women draw their creativity from each other and “by just your average person that is just sort of going about their life, wearing the clothes and telling the story to us about how they feel, which is kind of nice.”
Dena wants to ensure that each piece is a staple in the modern woman’s wardrobe and that together the pieces create synergy and stand the test of time in a society that’s currently overrun by fast fashion.
“I’m always kind of thinking about what’s the next thing we’re going to do and how does it relate to the older collections and people that bought previous pieces, so they can then still wear the skirt from a few seasons ago with the new shirt,” she says.
“And we are in that slow fashion world where it’s nice having different collections, but they still sort of intertwine in some way.”
After a quick scroll through Saloon’s social media pages and website, it’s easy to see that the campaigns and images are a real love letter to Braidwood and the country.
“It’s such a beautiful place to live. I’ve never lived in a country town before, I’ve always lived in the city—it’s really such a beautiful environment. Not only for raising a family but also the town itself is just really beautiful. We’ve had to face a lot of challenges, but the people of the town are so creative. And there’s good coffee.”
If you’re passing through Braidwood, be sure to pop in and check it out. You can get a front-row seat, witness the design process, and watch first-hand as the Dena and Jane sample and cut fabrics, hang new designs on mannequins, and answer any questions you may have about the designs.
So, if you’re looking for one-off, limited-edition pieces that will stand the test of time and be a valuable addition to your collection, Saloon is the perfect place to start. And just an hour and 10 minutes from Canberra, there’s no excuse not to go. Girl’s trip anyone?
What: Saloon Design House.
Where: 139 Wallace Street, Braidwood NSW.
When: Open Thursday though Sunday or by appointment.
Photography: Russell Horton
Stylist: Janai Anselmi