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Designer Anna Coroneo on using her paintings to make clothes and accessories

Interview: Clare Finney 

Everything we sell starts with a painting. Sometimes it’s oil or acrylic, but mostly it’s ink on canvas—my favourite medium. I love the vibrancy of ink, and the way you can smoothly drive the brush over the page. It allows you to capture such detail. I use black and grey to get the outlines, then build up the colour gradually, starting light, then progressively layering up.

Once the artwork is painted, I scan it or, if it’s large, take a photo and put it onto the computer. I can then change the layout and create different colour ranges. I send the finished designs to our factory in Italy, to go on fabrics. Sometimes we do a sample if we’re not sure of the scale.

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Mostly I print on natural fabrics, like cotton, silk and linen. I like the feel of them, and they take the dyes much better than synthetic materials. However, we have just done our first swimwear collection in nylon, and that is beautifully soft and has taken the colour wonderfully. A lot of synthetic fabrics have really improved.

For each collection, I’ll have a theme. Winter 2018 is inspired by the Ancient China exhibition I saw at the Met recently. I was particularly inspired by the beautiful silk screens I saw. I will research and sketch for a while, then the best of those sketches I will select to paint.

There are so many bad news stories out there, so I like to create happy, quirky prints. I like to do half a collection as humorous, slightly whimsical prints, and the other half more abstract. At the moment I’m finishing off the summer 2019 prints, which are all about Australia, where I am from. I’m having so much fun drawing koalas and kangaroos.

It is really inspiring as a designer when customers understand what you are trying to convey. We have a lot of customers who collect our prints. It’s also lovely when customers come in to look for a gift and find something that they just know their friend or partner will really love—that is really ‘them’. 

I want to design pieces that will be treasured forever. I don’t have sales, or design just for one season. I’m always going back through my archives and bringing out old prints from a couple of years ago. Nothing is ever rendered obsolete.

Anna Coroneo

StyleMark Riddaway