First published on 27 Apr 2011. Updated on 27 Apr 2011.
Carl Kapp has a not-so-secret love: he's obsessed with toucans. "They're the love of my life," the designer confesses. He'd like to own one but alas, with Australian customs limiting bird entrants to pigeons from New Zealand, all he can do is stockpile of toucan statuettes on floor, window and shelves of his Oxford Street store.
Born in South Africa, Kapp graduated in clothing design in Durban in 1990 and migrated to Australia soon after. A career in fashion was always on the cards for him. "I used to dress my sister's dolls," he laughs. "The signs were there, even when I was four years old." Kapp's first job was as a patternmaker, but soon he was freelancing for the likes of Kenzo, Donna Karan New York and Trent Nathan. "After working for many companies both in Australia and overseas, I just knew I needed to do my own thing," he says. He launched the Carl Kapp label in 2006, opened his Paddo boutique at the end of 2009, and his timeless gowns have found customers among Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Rose Byrne and Rachael Taylor.
So why are we only now seeing Kapp's designs at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week? "They've asked me every year," he says, "but it has to be done perfectly. This year it felt right. I just felt ready." Those lucky enough to score a seat at his solo show be warned: he isn't joking when he says "fabric's my main thing." There's going to be a lot of it - Kapp is widening the catwalk to accommodate the volume of silk in his designs. "As they move with the wind, the garments are going to be in and around you," says Kapp. "But it's not going to look like a parachute that's just landed."
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