This weekend saw the mysterious passing of an Australian icon, Ruth Tarvydas. The Perth-based Lithuanian-born fashion designer had been known to produce glamorous and sexy evening dresses and special occasion gowns – quality garments that appear both sensuous and body hugging in their design.
She will always be remembered for accessorising her kohl eye liner and captain’s hat. Tarvydas, like her self-labelled designs, were adventurous and bold having expanded her label internationally, starting in Australia and expanding all over the globe such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the USA. Tarvydas was the first Australian fashion label to export overseas.
Her designs have also attracted the attention of celebrities in and outside of Australia, like Rihanna, Emma Watson, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kelly Rowland, Kim Wyatt, Dani Minogue, Melanie B & Geri Halliwell (former Spice Girls), Rebecca Finch (Miss Universe), Rebecca Twigley, Cassie Davis, Natalie Bassingthwaite, as well as pop acts such as Javine and Girls Aloud. Age was no barrier for Tarvydas, even in her 60’s she was still designing for fashion shows.
I wanted to take the time to write a tribute to the designer and to share my condolences to her family and friends. I won’t spend too much detailing cause of death, as there is already enough media attention going around currently to covering that information, however all I can say is that there is an investigation that is currently being undertaken but the authorities are ruling out foul play.
What was known was that Tarvydas was struggling with financial hardship, made known when she was forced to close her flagship store in Perth in 2012. In the press she shared that high rental rates and ongoing road works had forced her business into administration.
This raises a point in my eyes. It’s really easy to believe that the fashion industry exists in a bubble, impervious to the socio-economic landscape happening all over the world but the reality is that the very nature of the fashion industry has always been influenced by the factor of change when you think about it.
With government policies constantly changing and rental rates continue to increase for commercial properties in inner city locations, such was the case for Tarvydas, the presence of physical retail stores are on the road to decline with the street filled with vacant lots as retail store owners are forced to either close up business, relocate into the suburban areas or to jump online as e-commerce stores.
One can witness that there is this mass exodus of businesses occurring and cannot help but wonder how this wave of businesses leaving the city centre going impact the fashion industry that have traditionally relied on stores to sell garments, let alone, how this will affect the greater economy. With the fluctuating state of local economies, even long standing iconic fashion labels like Tarvydas are susceptible to economic whims, and can stumble or even fall.
I want to once again dedicate this article to the late, Ruth Tarvydas, and hope that her family, friends and loved ones can find comfort during this sad time. I also want to thank Ruth Tarvydas for her contribution, support of the fashion community in Perth as well as assisting and mentoring upcoming and local fashion designers in Western Australia.
Picture 1: PerthNow Source: News Limited
Picture 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 & 11: Donna Ferreri on Style Hunter
Picture 6: supplied by ABC Source: PerthNow
Picture 9: Astrid Volzke/ The West Australian
Picture 12: Theo Fakos Source: PerthNow