DRESSED FOR SUCCESS: Marnie Skillings? autumn/winter collection, Dia De Muertos, is described as an exploration of life after d
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS: Marnie Skillings? autumn/winter collection, Dia De Muertos, is described as an exploration of life after d

Local designer hits the world stage

By JANE GARDNER jgardner@northernstar.com.au TEN years ago Marnie Skillings was selling clothes out of the back of her car at the Lismore car boot market to make ends meet.

Now she's one of Sydney's hottest fashion designers. This Friday, her latest range, 'The Future Has a Past', will be seen by a who's who of international buyers at the Rosemont Australian Fashion Week in Sydney.

She will share the stage with Australian designers including Zimmermann, Lisa Ho, and Alex Perry.

"I just hope there are no disasters, like someone falling over, or half-dressed models," the ex-Rileys Hill woman said. While she's no stranger to fashion shows, Marnie says this Friday's gig is one of the biggest she's done, with 13 models and 32 stage exits to manage.

"I will be running around backstage making sure the outfits are on properly," she said.

"It's kind of scary. The models only have a couple of minutes to get changed into each outfit, so we may be undressing and dressing them while they're still walking." Marnie, 31, inherited an eye for design from her artist mother Lyn.

She graduated from Southern Cross University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and was accepted into the coveted Sydney Institute of Technology fashion design course.

She wasted little time after graduating in 1999 to launch her own label in the cut-throat Sydney fashion industry.

Within a few years, her 'modern yet nostalgic' designs became old favourites of celebrity fashionistas Kylie Minogue and Mischa Barton.

Yesterday, Marnie dressed teen-pop idols The Veronicas for a red carpet do. The twin singers also wore Marnie Skillings dresses at last year's ARIA awards.

"It is really great when someone famous likes your work," Marnie said.

Although her perpetual success began after she moved to the city, Marnie attributes it to the creativity-rich Northern Rivers region.

"The Northern Rivers has so many different styles. It's an incredible place," she said.

"The great thing about growing up in a small place is you develop your own sense of creativity. I was also a bit naive, and that helped, because I didn't know what I was getting myself into!"



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