Maria Smirlis and her family have been product developers and manufacturers in the fashion industry for 5 generations in Europe and for the past fifty years in Australia. The HARAH name was established at Byron Bay NSW Australia in early 2006; the hand made limited edition and the one off products have been available to an existing client base for several years. HARAH Designs is always in touch with current fashion trends in London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, New York and with an added individual edge creates a unique, eclectic product. Maria has held shows at venues such as Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Australia and other prominent venues throughout Melbourne and Sydney.
All HARAH products are designed by Ms. Smirlis and she controls and supervises their manufacture in Australia.
drunkenmermaid.com: What inspired you to launch HARAH Designs?
Maria: At age 12 I began making my own clothes and by 13 I had my own clientele. I was really alternative and loved punk music so I use to make some wild, unique clothes that you could not buy in the shops so there was quite a demand for it. By about 16 I was singing in punk bands and making all our stage clothes. I left the music career behind at about 18 and went and studied fashion design. I ended up working for a lot of the major corporations like Holeproof, Dunlop Pacific, Clarkes, and Country Road. This meant going a bit straight and coping with the politics and all the red tape, which was not easy. So after 25 years in the corporate world in Melbourne I moved to Byron Bay and Launched HARAH Designs.
drunkenmermaid.com: Tell us about your background. Did you study fashion design? How did your career progress?
Maria: I am a fifth generation fashion designer. My family have been in the business of product development and manufacturing for generations in Europe and Australia. So you could say it is in my blood. I was taught to use all the machines when I was about seven in my parents’ factory. I worked in the factory afterschool and on school Holidays to help my parents. Believe me, I was not always happy about it – one time I even chopped up some garments in a complete rage!
I ended up just loving fashion and went to Melbourne College of Textiles, RMIT and Box Hill TAFE to study fashion.
drunkenmermaid.com: Where do you draw your inspiration?
drunkenmermaid.com: How many designs does HARAH usually produce in a year?
Maria: We make a lot of custom made to measure garments for our clients so we can produce hundreds of variations over a year.
drunkenmermaid.com: You currently offer several established product lines. Can you tell us about any upcoming collections?
Maria: Never – it’s always top secret (ha ha). But I can assure you it will be based around comfort and glamour.
drunkenmermaid.com: Who would you like to see in one of your dresses?
Maria: I would love to see Kylie Minogue in one of our dresses. She is so cute and fun.
drunkenmermaid.com: Where can our readers see your designs and buy your dresses?
drunkenmermaid.com: And one worth visiting.