BY MARTHA SARUMPAET
Growing up, Millie De Boo always knew she had to make good use of a name like hers. Today, her eponymous label brings together the world of fashion and costume to create eccentric garments that exude the very essence of rock ’n’ roll.
De Boo’s designs are a reflection of her personal style and philosophy, always prioritising fun and never taking yourself too seriously.
“I’ve always dressed pretty ‘out there’ and people are always asking me ‘oh what are you all dressed up for?”, and I’m like ‘nothing! I’m just popping down the street!’ I thought it was hilarious. I’ll wear my face paint pretty much everyday, even when I’m going to my ‘normal job’, I’ll have glitter all over me.”
Her practices behind her label aim to blur the lines between costume and fashion and create bold wearable garments. Having studied fashion design at RMIT, De Boo had completed an elective on costume design. This inspired her to seek work under like-minded designers to gain experience in the field. De Boo mentions working as a sewer for Melbourne designer, Alice Edgeley, who introduced her to the world of wearable costume fashion.
“She’s a big inspiration of mine. Throughout school, I’d always have her stuff in my moodboards. When I realised she was based in Melbourne, I thought I’d hit her up and see if she’s had any work for me. Her practice is also costume fashion design – that’s when i realised ‘oh, that’s a thing!’”
A certified ‘muso’ herself, De Boo is also heavily inspired by the music she listens to. “I think fashion and music just coincide really well and enhance one another.” Her most recent collection “Glitter Thugs”, which was shown during Melbourne Fashion Festival, is named after the song by glam rock Melbourne band, Smooch. Embedding herself in the Aussie music community, her designs have been featured on the likes of The Grogans and Wax’o Paradiso. Similar to her music taste, her designs are very much inspired by the aesthetic of the 70s: “David Bowie is my God,” says De Boo.
Up until September 2021, De Boo had been working for Nevenka; a Melbourne based atelier. It was thanks to the pandemic lockdowns that De Boo started reflecting on whether she would start her own brand.
“I had always had this dream to own my own label but in uni it was always setting you up to work for someone else. It felt like they were telling us ‘you will never own your own label successfully!’. And I was like ‘this is literally why I’m here!’”.
After gaining the courage to start her own label, De Boo sought after Melbourne based programs designed to uplift small fashion brands. Under the advice of her peers, she enrolled in a government funded business course called the NIES Program. De Boo had really taken to heart the advice she had received from Rosemary at Nevenka, so she was determined to start from the ground up.
“‘Whatever you do, don’t borrow money’. That stuck with me. I put every bit of money I had from working little jobs into the brand. I don’t consider myself business savvy at all so the course really helped.”
Wanting to apply her knowledge in conducting general business, De Boo joined Melbourne Fashion Hub, an organisation that assists in fashion startups. Through this program, De Boo was able to see her designs in a real retail space in Melbourne Fashion Hub’s Emporium pop-up store.
“That was incredible since I had all this information from the NIES program which was general business ideas, but then being able to apply it purely in the fashion side, was the most helpful thing.”