Juli-grbac

Feminism Myths Debunked: Why The F-Word Is Not A Crime

“It is really funny how even cool chicks are sort of like: ‘Our mums covered that feminism thing and now we’re living in a post-that world’ when that just isn’t true.” – US actor, author, screenwriter, producer and director Lena Dunham, 29.

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among younger women I’ve met of late – some of whom are powerful businesswomen in their early 30s – they don’t want to call themselves “feminists”. In fact, the F-word makes them positively aghast and nervous – they don’t understand what feminism is, nor do they care to learn.

RELATED: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word

Well, I’m here to tell you: feminism is powerful and important and women owe it to themselves and their forebears to educate themselves on what it means and why it’s so vital for both ourselves and future generations.

Now, there are many different forms of feminism and you only have to witness the ugly in-fighting that sometimes occurs on social media between popular feminist leaders in the Australian media to see there’s no “one size fits all category” on what constitutes a feminist. However, most feminists would surely agree that the basis of the movement is as simple as this: “people who believe in equality”.

Do you believe in equal pay for men and women? Do you think women should have equal political, social, sexual and property rights and opportunities to men? Well, sorry to tell you lady: you’re – gasp – a feminist.

That’s right: being a feminist doesn’t equate to humourless, bra-burning anarchists or man-hating satanists – far from it. Look at popular feminist icons of today, the multi-talented, accomplished and gorgeous: Queen Bey aka Beyonce (pictured); actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson; US comedians Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler; US musicians Taylor Swift and Madonna; US fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg; former US first lady and US Secretary of State, now US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and US actor/producer/author Lena Dunham.

feminism, Emma Watson, Beyonce, gender pay gap

Closer to home, there’s actor Cate Blanchett; former Prime Minister turned author Julia Gillard; journalist, businesswoman, television personality and author Ita Buttrose; author and commentator, Dr Germaine Greer; model-turned-best-selling novelist Tara Moss and former Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce, who’s just released the Not Now Not Ever report, which looks at how soaring rates of domestic violence in Queensland should be tackled.

Still too timid or afraid to call yourself a feminist? Here’s another damn good reason why you should join the movement: In Queensland alone this year, 20 women have died and countless more have suffered violence at the hands of a partner or former partner. In addition, one woman is killed every week in Australia by her partner or former partner and the national figure of domestic violence fatalities currently sits at 62 women.

What’s more, 0ften these murdered women are mothers and at times their children are murdered too. Among this horrifying national statistic were mothers Tara Brown, 24, and Karina Lock, 49, who allegedly died last week at the hands of their ex-partners and Sidney Playford, 6, who was allegedly murdered by her father, Stephen.

Australia’s domestic violence scourge sees many women and children living in constant trauma and fear. It’s real, it’s happening now and – even worse – according to research, domestic and family violence perpetrators are more likely to also commit acts of child sexual assault. Domestic and family violence and child sexual assault are inextricably linked: it’s about an abuse of power and perpetrators maintaining control.

So, you can try to turn a blind eye to the fact that women do not have equal footing in our country, or you can do something about it – and feminism is a bloody good place to start.

Recently, I witnessed an older boy purposefully push my then three-year-old daughter over in his bid to sit on the swing she was on at a public playground. I rushed over in her defence, but there was no need: she’d sprung back up in fury and defended herself very nicely without my help, telling him he had no right to treat her so. And I’m proud of that: I am very consciously trying to raise two strong-willed, brave daughters who will stand up for what they believe in and never let anyone – man or woman – push them around. They deserve equality and respect and to live in safety, just as their male peers do. Have I borne two little proud feminists? God, I hope so.

And my own amazing feminist mother helped steer me in the right director: banning me, as a naive and easily-influenced teen, from joining a cheerleader squad and attending a debutante ball. “No daughter of mine!” said she on both counts, putting me at odds with my peers at a private school. And thank God she did: now, I look back and thank her for it and will repeat this history with my own daughters.

Another proud feminist is the uber talented, smart and beautiful fashion designer Juli Grbac, 36, (pictured) who was the inaugural winner of international TV show Project Runway Australia. Juli, whose recent successes include re-designing Virgin Australia’s crew uniforms in 2010. The glamorous and elegant uniforms were unveiled in 2011, with a catwalk show featuring Elle Macpherson and 60 Virgin Australia crew members. In addition, she’s just finished re-designing Suncorp Bank’s uniforms.

feminism, Beyonce, gender equality

Here, she puts the case for feminism beautifully: “I am all for powerful women, I think now more than ever we have examples of powerful women all over the world today. I was raised by a strong Macedonian woman, mum came to Australia when she was just 21. Within a few years, she was running her own business in the rag-trade. I was brought up to believe that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and with my mum as my mentor, I have picked up where she left off.

“After running my own business for 14 years I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the last few years girl power has become stronger than ever, women are empowering and inspiring one another more than ever before, especially through social media.  Beyonce is the Queen, but at the same time relatable, she is a true example of feminism.

“It doesn’t really surprise me when other young women say they aren’t feminists, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however I do feel that more of the younger generation are increasingly becoming feminists.”

Amen to that, I say.

What do you think? Why are some women still reluctant to call themselves feminists?

Image via www.theloop.ca

September 15, 2015

Juli Grbac’s Fashionable Life In New York

She’s uber talented, smart and beautiful and if you don’t her name yet, chances are, you will become very familiar with Juli Grbac soon. A fashion designer hailing from Brisbane, Juli was the first winner of international TV show Project Runway Australia (pictured below) in 2008. She famously designed a dress for singer Kelly Rowland which the ex-Destiny’s Child chanteuse wore at a concert for Prince Albert of Monaco in Cannes.

Taught to sew by her dressmaker mother, Juli developed a love of fashion at a very young age. She studied fashion design in Brisbane and London before working for several big fashion names, including luxury Brisbane-based label Easton Pearson, before starting her own label, Grbac, in 2002, at the tender age of 22.

And as part of her Project Runway Australia prize, Juli had her designs showcased at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week in 2009, which received rave reviews, as well as a six-page spread in the now defunct Madison Magazine.

Juli Grbac, fashion designer, glamour, New York
A darling of the fashion set, Juli showed at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane, her label was stocked in top-end fashion retailers and she opened a stand-alone store in Brisbane’s funky Fortitude Valley which closed one year later.

Juli’s recent successes include re-designing Virgin Australia’s crew uniforms in 2010. The glamorous and elegant uniforms (pictured) were unveiled in 2011, with a catwalk show featuring Elle Macpherson and 60 Virgin Australia crew members.

Here, Juli talks SHESAID readers through her amazing success and plans for the future, having relocated to a glamorous bachelorette pad in bustling New York.

What drew you to NY? Are you living the dream? I was 33 and came on my own to New York for a holiday, just after Christmas.  On my second day here, I felt like I had truly arrived home. I knew that this was where I was meant to be at this time in my life. I made the move within nine months, and I haven’t looked back. I am very blessed that I get to travel back and forth between Brisbane and NYC. I come back to Australia every two months, to check-in on my clients, which offers me opportunities to see my family and friends in Brisbane. The travel can be exhausting, but it’s really the dream situation.

Please describe your amazing NY apartment and how you came to find it? I live downtown in the Financial District, one street away from Wall Street. I had a broker find this apartment for me, and when I saw the place, I knew it was the one for me. André Balazs, famous for designing The Standard hotels and The Mercer Hotel in SoHo, designed the apartment building, so the style factor is seriously there. It is a chic place to call home! I live alone (pictured below) – my life is truly ala Carrie Bradshaw right now: a closet full of shoes, cocktails for dinner and I’m enjoying dating in the Big Apple.

Juli Grbac, fashion designer, glamour, New York

Your Instagram followers recently got to see you at NYFW (main shot above). What were some highlights? Fashion Week is such a great time in New York!  It is a lot of fun and I get to see all my fashion idols at the shows and parties. I have made many industry contacts, so while attending the shows as a new local, it definitely ends up being a mix of both business and pleasure.

From designing a dress for Kelly Rowland to uniforms for Virgin Australia, what’s been your career highlight to date? I will never forget dressing Kelly Rowland! It was one of my favourite moments on Project Runway Australia. After also having the opportunity to show at Australian Fashion Week and the Brisbane Fashion Festival, it was surreal to also win the bid to design the uniform scheme for Virgin Australia (pictured below). I also love being a part of the Virgin family, and seeing the crew looking fabulous whenever I board a VA flight.  You would think nothing could top that, but being blessed to work now from New York, for Virgin Australia and my other collaborations, is a dream come true.

What’s best about designing for Virgin? Designing uniforms, as opposed to a collection of ready-to-wear, totally took me out of my comfort zone. I have always embraced a challenge and have loved this experience to fuse the needs for an international airline with my signature designs. My favourite part is getting on a VA flight and the girls thanking me for their new uniforms. That, for me, makes everything worthwhile! For the uniform, we developed our own Virgin Australia red – I even had to fly to Shanghai to approve it!

What new, exciting projects have you been working on? My design business has shifted from a ready-to-wear line – which I of course loved creating for my customers, to now purely consulting for several brands. I can’t wait to share my designs again with the public. I have been working on a chic line of travel accessories for the past year, everything from travel clutches right through to luxe luggage. We will be launching it next year and I am dying to see these pieces floating around the Virgin Australia cabins and lounges! I know what every jet set woman needs: I travel so much myself that I have a packing routine and know that there is a gap in the market for what I want to create. Think jet set chic, with spectacular hardware. I plan to bring the same attention to detail I had with my garments to my new travel accessories. I can’t wait to share the collection with SHESAID readers next year. Watch this space!

Juli Grbac, fashion designer, glamour, New York

What do you love most about being a fashion designer? I love transforming the way a woman feels about herself. When my business was more focused on made-to-measure garments, I used to love the moments where a client may have just had a baby, and had her first post-baby event to attend, like a wedding. Seeing the joy on her face was the ultimate repayment.It is truly not just how someone looks in my designs, but how I can make them feel. That is my true reward.

Who are your style icons? My ultimate style crush is Olivia Palermo. I have always been a fan of her style. She tasks risks and gently pushes boundaries, while always maintaining femininity. I love her eye for putting looks together! I always love what Kimye, Ciara and Miranda Kerr are wearing at the airports. The check-in counter is the new street style and I look forward to sharing my upcoming collection of travel accessories.

Who are your favourite fashion designers? Valentino is the ultimate for me. He is the king of feminine and beautiful shapes, without going over-the-top. I also love what the girls at Marchesa are doing. They share Valentino’s aesthetic, but their designs are so whimsical and dream-like and their latest London show was to-die-for!

How do you balance business and pleasure? Working for yourself is the greatest challenge. You need to ensure self-control and self-motivation. It can be hard to get into the work-zone, when you’re living in the fabulous playground that is New York! However, I have worked for myself for the past 12 years, so I get the work done. I schedule one night a week to focus on getting organized. On that night, I will clean, organize my week ahead and pay bills and… Spray tan! Living in NYC is challenging at times – it is the city that never sleeps and there is always something going on. When I first got here, I would always try to go to every event possible to socialise and network. That novelty wears thin, very quickly. It gets exhausting, so I am a lot more selective with events now and really choose to spend time with people who lift me up and support me.

Do you ever pinch yourself because of your amazing success? Every morning, I wake up and thank God, not just for the success I have had so far, but for my health, my family and my friends. It has been challenging, but I never gave up and I knew it would pay off. I always pushed myself, with all the successful projects that have been shared with the public, and many that didn’t see the green light. At times, I still find it to be a struggle, with so much I still want to achieve and share, but after so many years, I am grateful to keep feeling inspired. I love my work, but cannot wait to slowly develop a lifestyle approach with my brand.

What are your favourite NY landmarks? Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys! Those two department stores are one of the only reasons I go uptown here in Manhattan. I also love having lunch on top of Bergdorf’s and that surreal view overlooking Central Park!

What do you miss most about Australia? I miss my family. I have always had the most supportive family and being alone in a big city can get hard. So, when I land back at Brisbane International, I already feel the love!  I also love our laid-back lifestyle, we don’t take the bad things in life too seriously, especially in Brisbane, and we just live in the now. Australia will always be home however I am just enjoying this international lifestyle while I can.

What advice would you give to other aspiring fashion designers? Never give up. This is, of course, not new advice, but even when you have no money and you feel there is nothing more you can do… There is always something! Get a part- time job (anywhere) for regular income, and then spend the rest of your time perfecting the craft you believe you can shine in, and gain as much work experience as possible. I pretty much worked for free for eight years, as making money in your own self-funded fashion line is near impossible in a small local market, but I worked part-time at a pharmacy to maintain my dream. It is lots of hours, and the hustle is real; but if you stick with it, it does pay off. Truly believe in yourself. Always believe in your dreams; and always trust your gut feeling, when going into business with anyone.

What personal sacrifices and obstacles have you had to overcome?
One of the biggest obstacles was dealing with the business side of things. I am naturally a creative, however managing the books, doing budgets, selling to wholesalers and general running of the business was really hard. I couldn’t afford anyone to help so it was all just me learning as I went along. No regrets though, I have lost all my money twice and bounced back both times so if anything it’s just made me stronger. As for sacrifices, when I was 22, I was slaving away with my mum in the work room under my parents’ house. I was never out with my friends. I worked and worked and worked. Sacrifices are all part of the journey, knowing you are moving towards your goal makes everything that much easier.

Project Runway image via www.smh.com.au and VA uniform pic via www.boudist.com.

September 20, 2014