In the beautiful yet often deranged 7 year autobiographical film that I have been directing with the fashion industry, I very seldom have had the opportunity to catch up with my good friend, international model & designer, Emily Kate Symes. Its rare we are both in the same country let alone at the same shoot, yet somehow we ended up on the same remote island far far away. “Coron island, Calamian Islands of Palawan, Philippines” reads the casting brief, with a little map and an X over the top of where I had to be on the first Wednesday of October just gone. So its 9:05 on the morning of the shoot. I just got off a plane from Melbourne & its stinking hot, about 107 degrees, Im still in utter amazement of where i actually am, yet completely confused as to where I am supposed to be. Also, I’m unable to speak a word of ‘Tagalog’ which is the Philippine’s local language. Perhaps by the grace of god I hear the all too familiar message tone of my iphone ring loud and clear from bag… “Your Late, PS. Nice getup loser”. Holding the biggest smile of relief, I glanced frantically across the beach looking for Em. I literally did a double take when I first spotted her relaxing in a pastel peach, mint green and lilac kaftan with a bikini underneath and big beach hat. “Guess what? …. Got the hat for $4.00” she cheekily laughed as we swapped high 5’s and hello’s.
At 24, Emily is an ever growing drop-dead gorgeous natural beauty, with a personality that would bring a smile to anyone that had lived 5 lives of misery. Not only is she the national health and well being ambassador of the Philippines, Emily is a voracious enthusiast of writing (for her blog which you can visit here), the spearhead of EKOLUV, her latest venture (an online eco-sustainable-vintage lifestyle/fashion boutique) launching soon, and the founder of her Eco Luxury Vintage jewellery label EmilyKate. She also holds high regard for all things fashion styling, yoga (bikram, hatha, ashtanga), swimming (recreational), pilates, art, music, dancing, traveling and reading, as well as being an advocate of natural medicine which she lives by.
It’s 9:30 and I’m at the end of one of the longest shoots on record. I’m tired, extremely sunburnt and ready for bed. But we finally get to share some time and catch up on all things Emily Kate.
Its been a year since i was last at yours if you were cooking tonight what would be on the EK menu?
Since I spent the last few years based in Asia and with a few months of that time spent living and working in Thailand, I became even more obsessed with Thai food so anything oriental especially Thai would be on the menu.
Entree: Vietnamese rice paper rolls with sweet chilli dipping sauce
Main: Thai Panang tofu and vegetable curry (red creamy coconut curry)
Dessert: Mango and warm sticky rice with sweet coconut cream sauce poured on top
Talk to me about your jewelry label and what we can expect from the next collection?
EmilyKate is breaking the boundaries of what is ‘fashion’: providing luxury, vintage jewellery for the eco-conscious individual without compromising style. All EmilyKate pieces are handmade with love by myself using only the most rare, antique and vintage findings, materials, precious metals and stones combined to enhance the inner beauty of women, when a woman wears something she loves she feels confident and beautiful and she wears it as a statement to her being as an expression of what she wants to portray on an external level. The EmilyKate label aims to provide modern women high end quality, unique and timeless pieces to ensure her understated elegance and effortless beauty. “She is sensual. She is elegant. She is beautiful. She is….. wearing EmilyKate”. By incorporating vintage finds and materials into the creation of all pieces, EmilyKate is able to recycle and repurpose items that would otherwise be wasted, to manifest pieces which have a unique character and soul and the beauty that is imperfection by creating one-off or limited designs.
How is EmilyKate an Eco-Conscious Brand?
Eco-conscious production, recycled and made from already existing materials, stones or metals, often reclaimed from previously made items and/or bits and pieces and reworked into new ones. It’s made using vintage, surplus or remnant materials, and made locally in Australia, supporting on-shore production and using less fuel to get to you and some materials used are sourced from Australia. It’s made by hand, to order or in small batches, helping to encourage quality and craftsmanship, and to discourage “fast throw away fashion”. By purchasing an EmilyKate creation you are reducing your carbon footprint and helping the world to breathe, therefore giving back to our precious earth… My current collection Ethereal Beauty envisions women of myth, strong and beautiful women from Greek to Amazonian, Indian and Myan goddesses. Each piece represents the inner strength and beauty of what it is to be a woman and the love and light she has to share. I am currently enrolled in a jewellery (silversmith workshop) and therefore aim to advance my skills and learn how to melt and shape precious metals etc. I intend to implement what I have learnt into my future collections so you can expect a more edgier and experimental range using varied techniques to precious metals and stones too for my next collection.
I remember 5 years ago when you started focusing on your direction & design with the label, and looking at what your doing now i think your signature is still there.. like when I look at your shit I think – “yeah yeah thats emily”. How important is it to you, to remain true to your identity but still keep your pieces relevant to today’s trends?
I think it is important to remain true to my identity as a label, as in ‘identity’ I mean purpose. I don’t like to think EmilyKate has an identity as such, ‘identity’ is what separates us from each other when really we are all connected. What EmilyKate represents is something deeper than meets the eye, by wearing an EmilyKate piece you are part of something more, being eco-conscious and present to the environment, all pieces are made from fragments/pieces of the earth we live and breath from, precious metals and stones which also have various healing/energy properties. I’d like when people see an EmilyKate piece that they immediately identify with it as a statement “ hey of course I like to wear beautiful jewellery but I’m also conscious about how I go about it” buying designs that are limited help prevent ‘fast throw away’ fashion and promote unique,quality and eco-conscious production. Trends come and go the world of fashion is forever changing, EmilyKate is vintage and also contemporary at the same time and like the fashion world my label and myself are ever learning/growing and evolving too so I keep that in mind when I’m creating.
It seems like the Vintage Era had a real influence on you and your style. Where do you feel you picked up the origins of this inspiration?
I’ve always had a deep love for vintage stores and markets, I love the individuality that wearing vintage allows for. You know that you won’t be walking down the street and a dozen other women are wearing that same necklace as you. Vintage gives more room for creativity and self expression, vintage is always in fashion and never dies and I love the concept, “one’s trash, another’s treasure”. That inspired me to take the vintage direction with my jewellery along with the benefits that come along with using recycled/vintage materials it helps discourage mass production and relieves the environment of excess un necessary waste.
Away from the label, whats your position on the direction of where the fashion and modeling world is heading. I remember recently on your blog you posted about the importance of a healthy image …
Today, the industry has made leaps and bounds since the a la Kate Moss ‘Waif Thin’ era. More and more on the catwalks we are seeing healthier models a more realistic size and even campaigns featuring healthier looking models and the positive messages they promote. I love when fashion designers or magazine’s show a different type of image a more realistic/healthy image of what is beautiful. Images of women a more healthier dress size, or a picture of a woman smiling, having fun or simply just relaxing in the joyfulness and beauty of what it is to be a woman. What is cool to me is being comfortable in your own skin accepting your unique beauty in and out and that is why I started my blog to show that in many forms within the fashion industry and to provide an information resource center for this and about health and wellbeing too.
I love modeling but I especially love it more when I get to do jobs that are focused around my passion for wellbeing. However, there is still much progress to be made. In the media today sadly, we are still seeing this standard image portrayed onto women, to look like ‘stick insects’ or ‘lollipops’ these images presented in the media can have profound impacts on women today. It can subtly but basically tell women you should look like this and If you don’t then it can leave women asking the all too familiar questions… ‘What’s wrong with me, how come I don’t look like that?’ and ‘I’ll never look like that, will I ever be good enough?’ I myself have felt the pressures of the industry but it is important to remain strong, to love, appreciate and accept yourself for all that you are and know that most of the images portrayed in the media through the fashion industry and more importantly modeling are mostly ‘unrealistic’. I look forward to seeing the fashion and modeling industry evolve in supporting women and promoting more healthy images that encourage, strengthen and empower women.
Where are we going tomorrow? and whats your top 4 places to visit in the pines?
We are going island hopping around some of the other Calamianes islands in Palawan.
If you had to describe Emily Kate Symes in 6 songs by 6 different artists what would they be?
1)Giving Up The Gun – Vampire Weekend
2)Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie Cover) – Warpaint
3)Paradise – ColdPlay
4)Fortune – Little Dragon
5)Electric Feel – MGMT
6)Strobe – Deadmau5
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