Designer Interviews | Nov 19, 2018

Like Vegemite, ACDC & an ice cold beer, Billabong defines the quintessential Australian culture. The brand is iconic & an integral part of our landscape.. founded in Queensland in 1973 Billabong is surf!! Fast forward 45 years, and the brand has taken over surf, fashion & best of all, swimwear.

It's Now Cool its honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with such a killer design team. 

At the helm of which, sits head designer Fleur Boys. To say Fleur is the prefect fit  for the Billabong brand & the surf industry in general, would be an understatement. Here we have a woman who oozes swagger, style & ease. Along with our own Josie Clough, Fleur was at the centre of the latest Billabong x It's Now Cool collaboration featuring Aussie bombshell Elyse Taylor & shot on Rottnest Island, Western Australia. 

Her words are below & her spirit is infused into this red hot collection. Ladies & gents - please meet the incredible Fleur Boys.

Congratulations on the Billabong X It's Now Cool capsule!! You've smashed it! What was the main goal you & Josie set out to achieve with the range? When storyboarding the concepts & designs - what and/or who was the muse? 

Thanks.. that’s always great to hear, we love it.. I think we really set out to make something iconic. We originally had another idea in mind that centred around a total different theme,  but midway through the process we found this new fabric that I knew Josie would love and we just had to see it come to life. So the muse or concept in this case was quite fluid to this insane stretch fabric and a scorching Aussie red.

I can see the Hightide Cold Shoulder top & the black crochet crop all over beaches & festivals this summer. Swimwear has progressed so far over the last few years. Does this make the design process more challenging, or purely more fun? 

So much more fun.. all the boundaries have broken down and there are no limits to what you can wear. Gone are the days where you were worried about your ‘tanlines’ these day girls have so many different looks in their bikini draws and it’s fun to play into that swim for every occasion. Some days you want look insanely hot and other days you may just want something to stay on while you surf.. I don’t know anyone who just sticks to one look these days so there is a lot of fun to be had with fit and fabrication. The lines between swim and beachwear is blurring too so our tops and one pieces are being worn, just like you said it everywhere as well as the beach..

Let's set the scene & talk music. If the collection had a playlist to match, which three or so songs/albums instantly spring to mind? 

That’s a tough one.. I think the collection is so overtly sexy that I would pair it  with something quietly sexy with an island beat… the kind of music to pull you onto the dance floor from the corner of  tropical bar somewhere on a hot night… Something like Iko Iko or Sister Nancy mixed with a little Velvet Underground and a just touch of Bo Diddley

This is your 2nd time collaborating with It's Now Cool. What is it about the marriage of these two brands that feels seamless, electric & as if it were meant to be? 

For Billabong this collaboration really allows us to be a little more daring and overt in our approach and combining that with the frisson that comes with Josie’s photography.. its all for the love of swim so it just works..

We're living in a time when the world is encouraging women to stand out & brave. These ideas are beautifully transpired in this range. Rich colours and bold cuts that are flattering & still include a feminine edge. Are you a noticing different demand these days, in terms of the styles that women are gravitating towards?

Absolutely, I feel like women are looking at themselves differently and realising that there a new ways to flatter your figure and it doesn’t necessarily mean covering up. We really work hard to make sure the swim is cut in a way that it flaunts your shape, so if a style is high cut it will make your legs look longer but the fabric has such retention it holds you in everywhere it needs to. Don’t get me wrong there are some skimpy styles out there but there is also a lot more options for a bigger bust and so on too. It’s amazing what fabrication can do. So when you see girls owning at the beach and realising that they can look amazing in anything but basics is so rewarding.

It’s Now Cool exists for women who own their shape & confidently flaunt their natural curve! What's your advice to women who are on the hunt for new swimwear? 

High sides make you legs look longer, smaller back coverage makes your butt look smaller, longer crop tops can be so supporting for a larger bust and a one piece cut narrow at the sides can make you look narrower the whole way..  My best advise is own it.. what ever you wear that’s the best thing to see at the beach - confidence

Head Designer for Billabong, what an an insane title! Walk us through an average day-in-the-life of Fleur Boys?

It's pretty crazy on average.. we can be working on fours seasons at once, but I have an amazing team of designers that are pretty damm good at what they do. I can spend hours talking about the right shade of mustard, what kind of floral, fabric, fit or anything from a bikini to a back pack. Or can concept, review and present a different range in anyone day..

As well as the swimwear & the location, the creative team on the recent shoot in WA was phenomenal. How do you prepare for a shoot of this magnitude? 

Lucky for me we have an amazing marketing team who do all the ground work and logistics. Im always stressed about samples not arriving in time or not fitting. Josie is such a pro and always so in sync with the model that you really get to sit back and watch the magic which is truly something to behold. Josie’s understanding of how the body moves and catches the light is nothing like I have ever seen.

Scrolling through your personal Instagram, as well as your darling family of course - I see sunsets, oceans & open roads, surfboards & the king of swagger, Iggy Pop. You're like an romantic wanderer of the world! As a designer, do you prioritise travel to allow your creative mind to expand with the sights of the world?

Absolutely , I always find my biggest inspiration comes from the light and the colour of the destination. It’s the total submersion into the place. I’m always amazed by where get to travel and so in awe of the beauty of the world and how different every tiny portion is to us.. I always seem to look up and find a palm tree  though… 

When it comes to a new range, there's a massive amount of magazines, blogs, Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards etc to source inspiration. How to you refine this noise to find your clear path. A path you'll follow and remain true to? 

I think as I mentioned being inspired by different things and trying to stay true to the brand. Don’t get me wrong I’m always inspired by so many great Aussie brands doing so many great things but we try to take a trend and do it our way…for the quintessential Aussie beach girl..

The model for the range is the beautiful Elyse Taylor, who looks dynamite! Elyse is a model in demand, shooting all around the world for incredible designers. What is it about Elyse that embodies the spirit of Billabong & this range in particular? 

Well the quintessential Aussie beach girl and Elyse go hand in hand, right? Elyse worked with Billabong for the first time about ten years ago. So it was meant to be to have her come back and do this now she is so stellar.

In general, when it comes to the models do you usually have someone in mind during the design process - or does the hunt start after?  

It definitely plays into it,  but the fit has to be right, the model has to wear the bikini not the other way round, this collection called for someone who could carry off the colour and the cuts.. Elyse has all that and her cheeky very Aussie personality shines thru on top of that.

Fleur you've turned your love of the coastal lifestyle into your career which is nothing short of amazing. Advice to others who dream of doing the same?

Work hard and don’t be afraid to start at the bottom, all experience is good experience. I started working in surf shops and worked my way up, I definitely took a few side steps but that just builds your knowledge of  the industry..

Growing up, what swimwear brands were in your household? 

I loved Esprit when I was young but the first brand I brought with my own money was Billabong… I still have a few of my first bikinis from the brand back then.

What is one trend from the past you're dying to see make a come back? 

Brooke Shields style form Blue Lagoon –totally impractical but achingly beautiful draped bits of fabric…

When you have a busy day on the cards, what is your ideal way to kick start the morning? 

My ideal morning would include a walk on the beach or pilates my real morning comprises of shots coconut oil and a high level of craziness with my two boys..

With a huge career & kids oozing playful energy, how do you stay organised? 

Did someone say  I was organised? I rely on coconut oil, my email and my husband to keep life from spinning out of control.

When you hit the beach, what are 5 things you do not leave home without? 

Swim wear -and usually a change of swim wear, large cotton throws to sit on, an umbrella, natural coconut oil sunscreen and a super large hat

Career highlight to date?

These INC collabs are pretty up there but I still think the first time I saw a bikini I designed been worn by a girl on a beach.. the fact that she had spent money on it and obviously felt good in it.. that was pretty good too

The top & most memorable shoot locations to date have been... 

Bora Bora Tahiti,  Todos Santos Mexico, Hawaii always Hawaii

In 3 words, the new BB X INC capsule is... 

Scorching Summer Swagger