Creative, Inspiring, One Of A Kind: Meet Australia’s Designer Icons

For 185 years, David Jones has been the home of Australian fashion, not only showcasing the extraordinary work of homegrown designers, but supporting them as they built their brands from the ground up. As David Jones became an icon of the industry, so too have these names risen to prominence, both here and on the world stage. To celebrate this milestone anniversary – and David Jones’ continued position as Australia’s leading premium retailer – JONES paired the country’s top design talent with muses from the worlds of fashion, arts and culture.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Shona Joy

Meet some of Australia’s most celebrated designers

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Aje
Aje founders Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris and model Cameron Stephens.


Founded in 2008 by best friends Edwina
Forest and Adrian Norris, Aje has become
synonymous with an effortless blend of
femininity and cool. Named for an acronym
meaning ‘Adrian Joins Edwina’, the brand is
an icon in and of itself, instantly identifiable
by its exaggerated silhouettes, bold details
and elegant craftsmanship.

“Imagination means a world with no boundaries.” – Cameron Stephens

A split-second decision to attend a casting call for Good American in 2018 led to Cameron Stephens being scouted by modelling powerhouse IMG. One of the first curve models to be signed to the agency, Stephens has since set the Australian fashion industry abuzz, and became a friend of David Jones in 2021.


“Imagination is transporting our hearts and minds to the beyond.” – Lesleigh Jermanus

Alémais launched in 2020 as an expression of Sydney-based designer Lesleigh Jermanus’ imagination. Since then, Jermanus’ signature embroidery, frills and feminine prints have won hearts in Australia and overseas – and a host of awards, including the prestigious National Designer Award plus Emerging Designer of the Year at the 2022 Australian Fashion Laureate.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Alemais
Alémais founder Lesleigh Jermanus and model Thandi

Singer-songwriter Thandi Phoenix is one of Australia’s most exciting new talents, having appeared on festival stages at Spilt Milk, Splendour in the Grass and Byron Bay Bluesfest and supported acts Vera Blue, Rudimental and Tinie Tempah. She released her self-titled EP in 2019.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Zimmermann
Model’s Em Stenberg and Astrid Holler wearing Zimmermann.


The namesake label of sisters Nicky and Simone, Zimmermann’s delicate details, botanic prints and wanderlust motifs have been setting hearts aflutter since 1991. The brand’s continued global success has seen it capture attention at New York Fashion Week as well as establish stores in some of the world’s dreamiest locations.

Em Stenberg has already worked with the likes of Michael Lo Sordo and MAARA Collective – not bad for someone scouted at a bus stop while on their way to school.


Sisters Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen founded Matteau on a desire to create trend-defying styles from consciously derived materials. Beginning with minimalist swimwear, the brand’s offering has expanded to include resortwear and accessories characterised by a quintessentially laid-back Australian silhouette.


AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Matteau
Model Abigail O’Neill wearing Matteau.

“For me, there is a lot of nature involved in imagination. That’s where I draw my inspiration from.” – Abigail O’Neill

Model, author and holistic health advocate Abigail O’Neill is the embodiment of natural beauty. Having spent more than 30 years subscribing to a natural lifestyle – embracing everything from a mostly raw diet to hydrotherapy – O’Neill glows with good health (and shocks people when she reveals she has three grown-up children).

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Acler
Model Ella Havelka wearing Acler.


Since 2014, Acler’s Kathryn Forth and Julia Ritorto have been in the pursuit of modern femininity. With a focus on brilliant colours, quality textures and sculptural elements, they’ve set a refreshing new tone for event dressing.

“Imagination is having the courage to step outside your comfort zone.” – Ella Havelka

As well as dancing for Bangarra Dance Theatre and The Australian Ballet (the first Indigenous dancer in its history), Wiradjuri woman Ella Havelka has founded The ELLA Foundation to provide dance scholarships and mentorship to First Nations youth across the country.


Starting with rethinking the humble cotton tee, Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan launched Bassike in 2006 with a focus on basics done differently. Evoking its beachside beginnings, the brand’s penchant for natural, sustainably sourced fibres and an oceanic colour palette has seen it garner fans the world over.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Bassike
Bassike founders Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan and model Shay Langley.

“When I think of imagination, I think of creation.” – Shay Langley

Shay Langley is proving to be one to watch – on and off the runway. With her platinum buzz cut and cool-as-a-cucumber attitude, expect to see a lot more of this star on the rise.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Michael Lo Sordo
Michael Lo Sordo founder and model Manahou

Michael Lo Sordo

“Imagination is the birthplace of greatness.” – Michael Lo Sordo

Michael Lo Sordo’s eponymous label is simple elegance personified. Since launching in 2006, his signature silks and fluid silhouettes have become cult favourites of local and international stars alike, with Margot Robbie, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kim Kardashian and Gigi Hadid all repping his designs.

Mãori model Manahou Mackay’s success is a tribute to a life of authenticity. Scouted at a friend’s house in 2016, Mackay became the first trans woman to walk in New Zealand Fashion Week – and continues her stellar career in Sydney, working with some of Australia’s best-known designers and fashion magazines.

Camilla And Marc

“Imagination is the ability to explore the past and to be the future.” – Marc Freeman

Celebrating 20 years in 2023, veteran fashion label Camilla and Marc is in a league of its own. Founded around the idea of contrasts, the brand’s penchant for tailoring and flowing silhouettes has cemented the brother-and-sister duo as icons of Australian minimalist style.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Camilla and Marc
Camilla And Marc founders Marc Freeman and Camilla Freeman-Topper and model Em Stenberg.
AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Anna Quan
Anna Quan founder Anna Hoang and model Sophie Wilde.

Anna Quan

Rooted in the reimagining of the classic white shirt, Anna Hoang’s label Anna Quan has stayed true to a commitment to understated elegance and timeless minimalism. Specialising in relaxed tailoring and knitwear, Hoang’s signature flair has been effortlessly elevating the every day since 2013.

“Imagination is creativity. It’s a form of self-expression. It’s one of the beautiful things about being human.” – Sophie Wilde

Ivorian-Australian actor Sophie Wilde has loved performing since she was five years old. After graduating from NIDA, her first on-screen performance came in 2021, when she was cast in the Australian series Eden. Since then, the rising star has been commanding attention on the British TV scene, with roles in the BBC series You Don’t Know Me and Tom Jones.

Bec + Bridge

When Bec Cooper and Bridget Yorston met on their first day at university in 2000, never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined they would go on to create one of Australian fashion’s biggest success stories. After more than 20 years in the industry, the Sydney-based label continues to go from strength to strength, with its chic separates and flattering dresses now a staple for cool girls everywhere.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Bec + Bridge
Model Manahou Mackay wearing Bec + Bridge.
AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Camilla
Model Deni Todorovič wearing Camilla.


Few things in Australian fashion are as distinctive as a Camilla kaftan, each one marrying vivacious colour with designer Camilla Franks’ escapist spirit. Making its debut in 2004, the label’s embellished silk creations continue to be admired as love letters to the culture, craftsmanship and communities of far-flung lands.

“Imagination is a free world with endless possibilities.” – Deni Todorovič

Stylist, Instagram icon and author of Love This For You: How to Rewrite the Rules and Live Authentically, Deni Todorovic is a vocal activist for queer rights and inclusivity. Formerly fashion editor at Cosmopolitan, Todorovic has gained a legion of fans for their candid portrayal of and support for the non-binary community – as well as their colourful outfit snaps.

Bianca Spender

“Imagination is when dreams become reality.” – Bianca Spender

With a poet-like dedication to intricate details, Bianca Spender redefines work and occasionwear at once. Unafraid of bold colour and graphic prints, Spender’s eponymous label has embodied a sophisticated elegance since 2009 – a trait inspired by her mother, the legendary Carla Zampatti.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Bianca Spender
 Bianca Spender founder and model Ella Havelka.
AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES MAARA Collective
Model Savannah Kruger wearing MAARA Collective.

MAARA Collective

Launched in 2019 by Yuwaalaraay designer Julie Shaw, MAARA Collective’s name reflects its collaborative approach, with ‘maara’ meaning ‘hands’ in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups. At its core, the luxury resortwear label is a celebration of Indigenous fashion – one that’s seen Shaw awarded an Australian Fashion Laureate for Indigenous Designer of the Year, as she leads the charge in First Nations design.

“Imagination is manifesting.” – Savannah Kruger

Still just a teenager, First Nations model Savannah Kruger – who grew up in Daly River in the Northern Territory – is already taking the fashion industry by storm, appearing in shows for Indigenous Fashion Projects and First Nations Fashion and Design at Australian Fashion Week in 2022.


An enduring Australian favourite, Maticevski brings an avant-garde attitude to eveningwear. By breathing new life into drapery and ruffling, designer Toni Maticevski sculpts gowns into artefacts of the modern woman – an art that’s earned him the title of ‘The Elegant Rebel’.

AW23 Icon Australian Designer JONES Maticevski
Model’s Craig Barrie as Luna Laurent and Astrid Holler

“Imagination is about creating a fantasy.” – Craig Barrie as Luna Laurent

As David Jones’ assistant visual merchandising manager and drag queen Luna Laurent, Craig Barrie’s creativity and artistic self-expression know no bounds – and serve as a reminder to live and love vibrantly.

A freediver, student of environmental science and long-time Maticevski girl, Astrid Holler is split between two worlds. Whether she’s walking the runways of Mugler, Giorgio Armani and Zimmermann or weaving through the depths of the ocean, Holler is one model guaranteed to make waves.

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