Style that’s outside the box

Nadia Valavanis' fashion brand Berry Sevenglow VII will feature in the Melbourne Fashion Festival alongside some of the best Australian designers

The Australian fashion industry is constantly evolving in an ever-creative way, with many talented emerging designers on the scene. With the Melbourne Fashion Festival approaching, Neos Kosmos came across a fashionista straight out of the Australian College of Styling in Sydney. Nadia Valavanis migrated from Greece nine months ago determined to make it in Australia and is jump-starting her career with her handmade Berry Sevenglow VII creations.
“Even though I moved to Australia and call Australia home, I still feel for my country, Greece,” Nadia tells Neos Kosmos.

“The current situation in Greece makes me sad, as I still have a lot of friends and family members including my father and a brother living there.”
Whilst being able to identify with their stories, she still feels Greek people have a duty to themselves to make it through this trial. She herself works in hospitality six days a week to fund her brand and afford her study costs.

“It doesn’t take much effort to realise Greece is trapped in some kind of negative spiral, however, I truly believe the country and its people can turn it all around and rise above this series of predicaments,” she says.

“I came to Australia because I saw more opportunities to follow my dream and passion for fashion, even if it meant leaving Greece.”
Nadia Valavanis admits that she had lost her creative direction in Greece and her coming to Australia helped her re-invent her vision and focus on a style that really represents her.

“My label is all about handmade originality,” she explains.

“Since I can remember myself, I liked several different – even clashing – styles, something I always try to implement in my designs.”

Nadia describes her personal style as versatile, since various looks and concepts attract her.

“I can’t confine myself to one style as I love stepping out of the mainstream lady chic, preppy, sporty categories.”

She makes everything from jeans jackets to boots and shoes, raids thrift stores, op-shops or vintage stores to find interesting pieces she can then transform into something that reflects her personality. Her inspiration stems from her daily surroundings, filtered with a ‘homemade’ kind of aesthetic, which resonates perfectly with her. She likes to observe people and loves witnessing unexpected changes in what seems to be a fixed everyday routine.

“Something will happen out of nowhere one day and it might trigger a creative idea that was on my mind all along, trying to find its way out, and I suddenly start drawing,” she tells.

“There isn’t a single soul out there who would resist taking a second glance at beauty, whether it’s a person walking down the street or the perfect wave crashing on a long, white sandy beach.”

Nadia compares beauty to music, the moment one hears an enticing song for the second time and shuts everything out making sure they can take in every note they missed the first time.

“I see and feel things around me that make me want to take that second glance. This is what inspires me and this is the effect I aim at by creating my garments.”

When Nadia was 13 years old, she had no idea she would become a fashion designer/stylist. She was in love with fairies and Neverland. She googled what her name would be in fairy language and stumbled upon a website that generates elvish equivalents to given names. Her fairy name was Berry Goblinglow, a name that stuck with her. When creating her brand name, she wanted something that would hark back to her childhood interests and represent her place in her family.

She found out that she would have been the seventh child in her family if her mother’s pregnancy before her had reached full term. Lucky seven has remained her favourite number and hence, Berry Sevenglow VII was born.

“This name kind of clicked when I had to come up with a name for my brand, yet something didn’t sound quite right,” she muses.

“Until my dad stepped in and suggested Berry Sevenglow VII, as 7 is my lucky number. It made perfect sense from the moment I first wrote it down and said it out loud.”

Berry Sevenglow VII is not merely a brand to Nadia, but a platform of expression, experimentation and a ‘key’ to transfer ideas and dreams into something anyone can relate to and eventually wear.

“I personally believe that the predominant style in the Australian market is not as adventurous as it is in Greece,” Nadia admits.

“Both markets are generally based on the same aspects of creativity, yet I noticed that Greeks are less afraid to ‘mess’ with their appearance, alter their style and make a statement.”

“Their need to fit in and in the same time stand out makes them more daring, while the Australians are more laid back.”

It comes as no surprise that Nadia sees her designs as a balancing act. Not only does she explore juxtaposition in a unisex way, but she is constantly thinking about what’s wearable and sells versus what’s interesting as a conceptual image but impractical.

Nadia feels people are creatures of habit and therefore do not adjust well to changes even though she hasn’t faced particular difficulties.

“The only hurdles I had to overcome was the language barrier – as my English wasn’t so good when I first arrived – and finding suppliers, places to buy materials from,” she says.

“I am fortunate enough to have family here and made some great friends who can point me in the right direction when I need help. Australia feels like home.”

As for what to expect going forward, the young designer has plans for casual yet rad menswear and womenswear involving accessories and collaborations.

“I like to focus on now and my next small step, as it is too soon to think big and I need a solid foundation before aiming at bigger things,” Nadia confesses.

“Even though I hate making long-term plans, I do endorse the sky-is-the-limit philosophy.”

*Apart from the Melbourne Fashion Festival, you can find Nadia’s handmade creations on Instagram (https://instagram.com/berrysevenglow_vii/) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Berry-Sevenglow-VII/176486189111057?pnref=story). Until the online store launches, people can place orders via email at berry7glow@mail.com