Where fashion designers go for inspiration

Fashion designer Alice McCall splits her time equally between Sydney and Bali with her boyfriend Nick Morley and their two children.

When did you first set up camp in Bali?
We went to Bali on family holidays growing up, and I have a clear vision of my mum trading coloured nail polish for sarongs in the mid 1970s. I then went every few years until I found myself back there in a professional capacity about 12 years ago. The land really got under my skin, I fell in love with the people and the potential to express myself in a creative way. I was sold.

Now you're splitting your time between Sydney and Bali, where's "home"?
I love both. Bali gets into your soul, but it can also drive you troppo. When I am there too long I begin to crave things like good pharmacies and supermarkets, and roads without potholes.

With two young children, what moves have you made to ensure they feel at home in both Bali and Australia?
Planning is the key. Nick and I are looking to move to Sydney's northern beaches, where there is room to breathe and the potential to have a garden and be a stone's throw away from the beach. This is the life we are used to in Bali. We're also bringing our Indonesian nanny to Australia. She's been with my daughter Wilde Rose since birth.

What is your home aesthetic?
I love things that are made of good quality plastics and anodised aluminium. Growing up, I lived in an old Arnott's biscuit factory in Melbourne, so I am used to space.

When did you first fall in love with Bali?
I saw myself living here after the first time I visited. I must have been here in a past life because there was an instant connection.

What does "home" mean to you?
Home's about feeling grounded and at ease; for me that can be anywhere. As long as I have my familiar things around me, and my son in tow, I'm good. I'm a bit of a gypsy, but home gets more important as you grow up.

How does Bali inspire your home?
In Bali it's all about the surroundings. In my house, a view to the garden and pool is important. We live around the pool and kitchen; they are definitely the focus areas.

What home trend do you currently love?
I love vibrant dashes of colour: a chair or a lamp always adds a lively punch.

Are the aesthetics of your home and fashion designs at all comparable?
In my home the aesthetic is relaxed, bohemian, eclectic, feminine and beautiful. I'd like to think people say the same about my collections.

What are the fabrics like in Bali?
To be honest, the choice of fabric is basic. But for me, it's not so much about the fabric, but what you do with it. They do printing, embroidery and beading very well, and it makes a big difference to the final product.

How has living in Bali changed your view of what "home" means?
I've realised that home is where you find yourself. It's good to be flexible and roll along with whatever life offers. Don't ever get too attached to things, just re-create them.

Would you describe Bali as your home?
Over the last five years I have been in Bali so often that is has become a second home. Even after a long stretch back in Sydney, there's a sense of security when I return. It's easy to become familiar with the tangle of streets and endless rice fields.

You're a self-professed travel addict who's said that working in Bali is an excuse to immerse yourself in its exoticness. What is it about Bali that inspires your designs?
There is a freedom and looseness that I am drawn to, a lawlessness that can be frustrating, but is also really liberating. I am lucky to work with a team that embrace my relentless need to experiment with both materials and production techniques, yet also hold in esteem the concepts of quality and craftsmanship.

Tell us about the artworks that you gravitate towards for your house.
My partner Christopher Morris and I recently bought a tiny terrace in Sydney with empty walls that are like blank canvases, so it's exciting to fill them. Christopher is a photographer, so many of his artworks are on our walls.

Are the aesthetics of your home and fashion designs at all comparable?
I definitely employ the "more is more" approach to both. Christopher has to physically restrain me from creating "clutter zones". And I am obsessed with details; in my jewellery it's the packaging, swing tag and clasps, and at home I love to invest in light switches, doorknobs and soft furnishings.

Does the coastal living that Bali offers influence the style inside your home as well?
We were both raised on Sydney's northern beaches, so coastal living is very much a part of our everyday lives.

Why did you choose to set up camp in Bali?
Being close to Australia makes it an obvious choice. Their textiles industry keeps getting stronger and it feels a lot easier to navigate than China. The Balinese are a resilient, kind people, and they have a beautiful culture.

When did you first envisage living in Bali?
We've had an ongoing love affair with Bali since travelling there as kids with our parents. It was never a conscious choice; however, the business dictated where we needed to be at certain times of the year and we found it very easy to make Bali our second home.

What have you done to make Bali feel more like home?
For both of us, home equals family, so when we have to spend extended time in Bali we get everyone to come over and we rent a big villa and live together for a few weeks.

How do your Balinese surroundings inspire the look and feel of your home?
We love the open-plan feel of Balinese villas and how indoor and outdoor areas merge. The Balinese are great at using lush tropical gardens to create a sense of privacy and isolation even though you're smack bang in the middle of a bustling village.

From: Sunday Life

The story Where fashion designers go for inspiration first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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