Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ben Pollitt is taking a break

A few Rosemount Australian Fashion Week shows are still up in the air ahead of this Thursday’s release of the official schedule by organisers IMG Fashion Asia Pacific. In the interim, see frockwriter’s preview of what's on. But one name will definitely not be among the late additions: Friedrich Gray. That’s because Ben Pollitt, the designer behind the Sydney-based label, has ceased production – temporarily, we are assured, by his spokeswoman Rae Begley, who confirmed that Pollitt “is definitely taking a break”. Although retailer Belinda Seper, Pollitt’s mentor and former employer, told us she was unaware that Pollitt had produced an Autumn/Winter 2011 range, according to Begley he did do a “small injection” for winter. But there is no Spring/Summer 2011/2012 collection and for the moment, it is unclear just when Pollitt will be resuming work.

Over the past five years, Pollitt quickly established himself as one of Australia’s most exciting emerging design talents, noted for his androgynous, layered silhouettes in wool, cotton and leather and a sombre signature colour palette.

Entirely self-taught, Pollitt launched his brand in 2006 following industrial design studies and an eclectic series of work stints: as a stylist in New York, as a building site manager and as Seper’s delivery driver in Sydney. 

The accolades came quickly.

Pollitt took out the fashion category of the 2007 Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards and just a few months later, the Woolmark-sponsored Young Designer of the Year Award at the 2008 L’OrĂ©al Melbourne Fashion Festival.

"I've always known I can design and be creative, I just need to know more about the nuts and bolts of running a business and getting financing" Pollitt told The Daily Telegraph after the SOYA Awards - which awarded him $10,000 in prize money and a mentorship with Sydney designer Peter Morrissey.

But presumably Pollitt, who did not respond to our enquiries, did not manage to learn enough about the nuts, bolts, financing and pressures of the fashion business. Hype and accolades are great, but you can't pay your rent with them.  

“It didn’t surprise me because I know how tough it is” says Seper of the news of Pollitt's hiatus. The designer recently contacted Seper, seeking advice about his future options. 

“Also I know Benny’s personality well" she added. "It’s not like he trained as a designer. It wasn’t necessarily his career choice. It just fell upon him and he just happened to be exceptionally talented at it. If someone wants to take a break, someone wants to take a break. He’s young enough, he recently married [longtime girlfriend, photographer Bec Howell]. Maybe they want to travel. I’m sure he’ll come back and do something at a later date. For now, he wants to have some time out. And I can’t blame him. We’re fine but I know there are plenty of other retailers and designers that are finding the uncertainly of the climate difficult to navigate”.


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