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Australia's couture visionary

Self-taught haute couturier Con Iliopoulos creates stunning gowns celebrating beauty and femininity

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A woman should always feel exceptional, powerful & beautiful in what she's wearing
10 May 2017

It is hard to believe that a 27-year-old self-taught designer is behind evening and bridal fashion house CON ILIO. The Melbourne-based label has managed to dominate red carpets and social media within just 12 months of its launch.

Con Iliopoulos, began his journey crafting gowns out of his living room drawing inspiration from the world around him and the power of women. From a very young age Con was immersed in the colourful life of dressmaking via his mother and grandmothers, who were all self taught seamstresses.

Always fascinated by the hourglass figure, he developed a keen eye for creative design and garment execution alongside his vibrant personality - with an aim to make every woman feel exceptional, powerful, and beautiful in his garments.

From Milan to Paris and Berlin to Tokyo, the creative director and designer explored some of the world's fashion capitals for his first ever collection which was received with rave reviews amongst local and international luxury publications - not to mention adorned by celebrities.

Con and his team worked tirelessly to create breath-taking gowns using high-end European sourced fabrics and intricate hand-beading and lace-crafting techniques.

The jewel of the collection, the stunning hydrangea dress, features an impressive 21,500 hand-sewn hydrangea petals which took the CON ILIO team more than 1,000 hours to create.

@jamespcant (James Cant) photography

You come from a family of self-taught seamstresses; were you interested in fashion from a very young age?
I've loved designing and fashion for as long as I can remember. My mum was a seamstress and I'd sit at her feet and watch her for hours, mesmerised as she would hand stitch bead upon bead onto wedding gowns. I would end up guarding the gowns from my sisters!

Why haute-couture?
Firstly, it's beautiful, secondly, as a designer I get to let my imagination run wild and create wearable works of art. And thirdly, I get to work with women and together we go on a design journey to create something they LOVE, and LOVE wearing. There's no risk of walking into the room and seeing someone else in the same dress when you wear CON ILIO because every design is unique and special.

Have you actually studied fashion design?
I studied during high school and took up sewing and pattern-making at night however most of my knowledge has come from a family of seamstresses; my mother and grandmothers.

By @karonphotography

When did you make your first gown?
The first gown I made was when I was in high school. I was about 15 years old and it was for a family friend's debutante ball.

Since last year your popularity has sky-rocketed. Do you think this was partly because of the Logies?
The Logies played a huge part in launching the brand last year and put us on the map in terms of Australian couture designers. We dressed three ladies last year and this year we thought we would crank it up a notch and dress seven!

Which celebrities have you dressed?
Since we launched last March, we have been very fortunate to dress a number of local and international faces including Olympia Valance, Jennifer Hawkins, Zoe Foster-Blake, Lauren Phillips, Georgia Love, Jess Marais, and Carrie Bickmore to name a few. Earlier this year we also dressed Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (The Bold & The Beautiful) while she was in Australia and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Underground) for the Vanity Fair after party in LA.

@jamespcant (James Cant) photography

How would you describe your clientele?
The CON ILIO woman is a strong, bold, independent, and savvy woman who is not afraid to make a fashion statement. Real women who want to feel beautiful. We specialise in bridal however we also cater to clients who need evening gowns for events such as birthdays, black-tie and cocktail parties, bar mitzvahs and racing events, to name a few.

What inspires you?
Global opulence, different design eras and impeccable tailoring. We also look to strong, glamorous and iconic women. Women that stand out not just for their fashion sense but for their attitude, talent, and personality. These wonderful women inspire me and we celebrate them in my designs.

Where do you see your brand in the future?
We hope to continue to showcase our gowns on the red carpet here in Australia as well as on an International stage.

* For more information, go to conilio.com

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