ROCKY IN LA

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FROM ALBERT PARK TO LA

Rochelle Gregory makes one-of-a-kind jackets worn by celebrities including model Gigi Hadid and actor Ruby Rose. And now the Melburnian, who has an Albert Park store, has teamed with Hadid's sister. La Fashion designer Alana Hadid, for her latest collection. The Rocky Rafaela X La Debresse collaboration includes biker jackels that are painted and embellished, and a nostalgia for lie-dyed materials plugs into hippy vibes. "Alana got right behind me," Gregory says. "She brings an L.A style to the Aussies. She's nice, fun and we're both happy with the outcome of coming together for this project. Hopefully it'll lead to more." Rocky Rafaela launched in 2016, using sustainable leather and quality silk, bridging rebelliousness and class. The brand is stocked by Fred Segal in LA and The Iconic in Australia. Gregory has also just opened her boutique in Albert Park, a stone's throw from where she grew up, and says her fashion sense is all thanks to family. "My Greek grandfather was a tailor; he kept an industrial machine at the front of his house and would sew on it every day," she says of her earliest memories of fashion. When Gregory graduated from the Whitehouse School of Design in 2014, she applied for an internship at Alexander Wang, missing out to one other applicant. She took that loss in her stride and committed to starting her brand. She spent her early 20s on buying trips with her mother, who owns the Armadale boutique Balloon for Kids, and says a lot of inspiration comes from her family. "They are modern Greeks who always dress well and that definitely influenced my desire to study fashion design." She doesn't shy from talking about the substance abuse and eating disorders that plagued her teens, but says she's in a better place now. While seeing a therapist the conversation turned to Australian Orange is the New Black star Ruby Rose, who had found her own way through trauma. "My therapist asked me what do I want to do with my life and I told her, "If Ruby Rose could face her traumatic past, so could I," Gregory says. That affirmation gave her the courage to deliver a custom-made jacket to Rose's manager in 2016. in the hope it would make it to the actor. Rose was spotted wearing it at LAX airport a month later and reached out to Gregory to add a carved rose on it. She then wore it in a worldwide Maybelline campaign, which set social media in a frenzy to find out who the designer was. "That really was the icing on the cake. It was fantastic she embraced it. I wasn't expecting it," Gregory says. "I still go through personal struggles but have learnt how to cope with my past. Fashion has been the greatest healer; I throw myself into my work and love the creative space.

WORDS JANE ROCCA PHOTO CARMEN ZAMMIT

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