Adelaide designer takes on the world from home. Secrets of Paolo Sebastian’s Success Pt1

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It’s been a week since the Logies and the excitement of the glamorous event may have faded but for South Australian designer Paul Vasileff glamour is a constant.

The 24-year-old behind high fashion label Paolo Sebastian dressed no less than eight of Australia’s entertainment royalty for the Logies including Carrie Bickmore who won Best Dressed this year.

Fast becoming one of the biggest names in fashion, Vasileff has dressed the likes of Dannii Minogue, Kylie Gilles, Michelle Bridges, Ada Nicodemou and Georgie Gardner.

Across the ocean his exquisite, hand made gowns have been worn by Catt Sadler, Keltie Knight and Giuliana Rancic to nights like the Grammys and the Oscars.

But despite his grandiose success, the talented young designer could not be more humble; passionate about his work, family and his hometown, his label could well be one of SA’s greatest exports.

Throughout his short but eventful seven-year career, which began in his final year as a student at Christian Brothers College, Paul Vasileff has rubbed shoulders with the famous and fabulous and shown his work in London, Milan and Sydney.

“In year 12, I did a subject called Extension Studies. I planned a fashion show to raise money for charity and investigate the process, so I combined that with launching my label so all my subjects were focussed on my fashion show,” he said.

“I had no expectations for the show but it was the most fun I’ve ever had. We had 660 people there and we raised about $2000 for CanTeen. I did a 63-piece collection which was really ambitious and I had all my best friends model with me,” he said.

After graduating and completing a year at TafeSA, Vasileff contacted Di Fabio Brothers Tailoring in Pulteney Street who agreed to teach him some tricks of the trade.

“I wanted to learn more about craftsmanship and they focus on hand work and old school techniques. The Di Fabio Brothers trained in Milan and migrated to Australia in the 50s and they said I could come in and do a couple of days a week, then towards the end of that year a scholarship program came up,” he said.

Vasileff won the scholarship to go to Milan to the exclusive European Institute of Design and the 19-year-old moved away from his family at their Grange home and flew to Italy for a year.

Being the only Australian in course and having never been away from home, Vasileff said it was his hardest, but most incredible year.

“It was the best experience of my life. I grew as a person and as a designer because the school there is so intense. They really break you down and build you up from nothing and they got us to think about our style as a designer and how we can channel our creativity to work for us,” he said.

“You really question everything you do and why you do it and then you can make decisions about what you really want to do instead of copying someone else’s work,” he said.

The teachers at the European Institute of Design recognised Vasileff’s unique talent and offered him opportunities to show his work at notable fashion weeks, and attend VIP events.

“I got to meet amazing people like Georgio Armani and Roberto Cavalli and my work got shown in London fashion week. There was a bridal competition that one of the teachers entered me into and my work was chosen to be on display at Milan Bridal Fashion Week with Vogue, Sposabella and the Swarovski exhibition,” he said.

“I got to go to the Versace show and Naomi Campbell’s 25th anniversary at Dolce and Gabbana. I went to all these amazing shows but I was really homesick the whole time I was there,” he said.

Vasileff, who celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday, completed his year in Milan and came back to Adelaide, determined to stay in our fair city and launch his label.

Since leaving Milan, Vasileff’s success has grown beyond anything he imagined, including making a million dollar gown as a collaboration with Shiels Jewellers.

From making his first formal gown on his Nonna’s sewing machine at eleven years old to dressing some of the world’s most glamorous stars, Paul Vasileff has grown his label from his home in Adelaide.

You can read more about our home-grown star of fashion in part two of The Secrets of Paolo Sebastian’s Success (coming soon).

Photography © Simon Cecere

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