Australian Fashion Week

Caroline Reznik Brings Music & Main Character Energy To AAFW 2023

"It's chaos, but it's nice. Doing 30-plus looks is another level to what I have ever done, but it's getting there!", laughs Caroline Reznik when I ask how the preparation for her show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2023 is going.
We're sitting down to chat a week before her debut runway show, so she's had to sneak away from her busy studio and nestle into a small and quiet closet to speak with me. But despite all the chaos around her, and the undoubtedly high pressure to pull off one of the closing runway shows at Fashion Week, she's as calm and humble as ever.
An emerging local Australian designer who has already become a notable name in the international design world, Reznik's label is one that anyone who appreciates bold and unapologetic fashion should become familiar with. Known for blending elements of "balletcore" with harsh materials and striking lines — and redefining how garments move on (and with) the body — Reznik's work is unlike anything we've seen before, and yet, it perfectly encapsulates modern feminity and the values of contemporary fashion in an era that's riddled with varying trends.
This concept of movement drives a lot of Reznik's design, thanks to her background in dance and music as a former ballet dancer. Reznik found notoriety not long after starting her name-brand during the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic on social media, and having already dressed the likes of Doja Cat, Cardi B and Rosalía, her success is only growing.
As for her collection showing at this year's Australian Fashion Week, Reznik admits that even a week out, it's still evolving. But that is precisely where the beauty of her work lies — in its ever-changing, ever-adapting conceptual and literal movement.
"At this point in time, it's almost about this animal instinct correlating with human instinct and upholding like 'the main character', which is the dance that unites what that feels like with who I am as a person," Reznik muses. "There's music that informs a lot of my work as well, like the codes of dance and what I understand from ballet performances, and how storytelling can really be played out within a body of work."
While Reznik may no longer be a dancer, it's clear the art of dance and design continue to inform each other through her work. "For me, [dance is] becoming more of a grounded foundation of what I can bring to my work, and [I] intertwine that into what I know about movement and about the body. It's finding a synergy within my work, whether it be from a macro perspective and bringing it back to that micro perspective — combining the personal and the global is something that gives me a lot of drive. It's about marrying what I know about movement and performance and expressing that through an art form, which is fashion."
Reznik started her label on Instagram during the lockdowns in Australia, so it's safe to say she has had to quickly adapt her brand and her practice as the fashion industry, and the world, has evolved significantly since the pandemic. This has put her in a very unique and unusual situation that a lot of other designers haven't had to contend with.
"It [was] such an odd place to start in, compared to how a lot of brands do traditionally," she says. "But if anything, I don't think it's affected me negatively. It gave me a platform in a way that I don't think I ever would have achieved if it wasn't for that type of place."
And it certainly gave Reznik a unique advantage, despite its unorthodox nature, as it was through her Instagram that she came to work with some of the biggest female names in pop and hip-hop (yes, Doja Cat's team literally slid into her DMs!). As for how her brand will continue to operate, this runway show might prove to be a new way forward for Caroline Reznik.
"In some ways, I feel like I've outgrown it just a little bit, which is why I'm ready to do a physical show and actually kind of cement my work without people first seeing a picture," Reznik says. "I'm excited to explore the brand in a new way. As times are evolving, there are certain things from the past that are now back in the present, but now it's about combining where I started through social media during the pandemic and bringing that element of live performance through a show, which is the now. I'm excited to see that synergy. Everything's coming full circle!"
As for her design process, from ideation to the creation of a garment, Reznik's method is as fluid and dynamic as her work. "It starts in the mind, as an experience or a memory or reading something inspiring," she explains. "I generally transcribe that into my notes on my phone, and it'll sit there for ages as I then come up with thoughts around a garment or a textile, and I'll start saving and collating things. It's kind of everywhere, a misalignment! But that's the beginning — before I even make it to the stand."
When it comes to actually creating a garment off the back of her ideas, Reznik approaches it with an almost divine sense of creativity and coincidence. "I find that I don't necessarily look at my work by saying 'Here's the look I want to develop, now let's go find the fabric'. Usually, I just come across the fabric or I'll work with almost nothing," she explains. "I often find things secondhand, or I'll take things from, like, a jewellery shop or even a hardware store. From there, I think about what I can make on the body and translate the ideas and the feeling that I wrote in my notes, and then make it something tangible in real life."
"It's only when I look back at it that it suddenly makes a lot of sense. And sometimes, I'll write something and I'm like, 'That's probably never gonna be used', but those small words or phrases end up being quite significant later on."
Of course, I'd be remiss to not ask her what it was like to actually work with more than one internationally-acclaimed female artist, and how she feels these particular musicians are a reflection of her brand and style.
"I still kind of pinch myself about the opportunities that have presented themselves," Reznik says. "On the one occasion with Doja Cat, I actually got to work with her physically in LA! And she's such a real person, as well. As for why these opportunities have come about and why it is that musicians like her are so drawn to my work, I remember when I first worked with her and her creative director, she just loved the sex appeal of my collections and how ambiguous it was, and different and creative, and I think she just needed it."
"To dress these amazing women means the world to me. I think what they're also all drawn to is that [my work] is something that's not really been around for some time. Not that I don't think designers have developed more crafted work, but I do think it has been some time, especially pre-pandemic. I feel like there was more mass-produced work out there and when COVID came in; a lot of artists and emerging designers started creating things that were more individually spoken. And I think that's the difference. Because they're artists with their own individual voices, they're looking for something that represents that."
When I ask Reznik what excites her most about having a show at AAFW this year, she says that since graduating, it's the first time she's actually been able to put out work that is solely her own, which is a huge step forward for her sense of artistry and ownership over her brand.
"While it's been so great to have the collaborative opportunities with such amazing artists and directors, I'm so excited to really get to just see my own work and kind of show the world what I can do on my own," she says. "Just being able to bring something new to a physical space that I don't think Australian fashion has really done before is really exciting, too."
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!

More from Designers