Today I'm wearing: Ken Done for The Social Outfit silk shell top.

Today I'm wearing: Ken Done for The Social Outfit silk shell top.

Do you know about The Social Outfit? It’s very excellent, basically. Like its Melbourne inspiration The Social Studio, this design room, workshop and retail store in Sydney’s Newtown is registered charity and social enterprise. It provides training and ongoing employment for new migrants – and makes fabulous ethical fashion in the process.

You couldn’t get a shorter supply chain. Everything is cut and sewn on the premises. Their materials are either donated, many by top Australian designers (Carla Zampatti was their first ambassador), or created especially for them.

I particularly love this one by proper legend Ken Done (who, incidentally was just GQ’s Man of the Year 2016 - go Ken). 

Done, who studied at the National Art School, spent many years as a commercial art director before focusing on painting full time. His exuberant odes to Australiana, especially his Sydney scenes, made him a household name in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Some critics sniffed it was kitsch, or too commercial…because Done dared to splash his works across T-shirts, tea-towels and coffee mugs as well as canvases. 

Well, who’s laughing now that artists routinely engage in fashion collaborations, from Yayoi Kusama lending her dots to Louis Vuitton, to Christophe Chemin painting prints for Prada (try saying that drunk). The Spring 17 runways were brightened by Kenzo working with the estate of legendary illustrator Antonio Lopez. And how about those Charlotte Tilbury x  Norman Parkinson makeup bags? The ones featuring his iconic 1970s Vogue photographs of Jerry Hall in the swimming cap on the phone? Of course there was a time when the sniffy critics reckoned photography wasn’t art either. Yeah, about that…

I’m excited that Done has lent his name to The Social Outfit, so that this exclusive, re-released artwork can be used on these smashing silk shell tops, camisoles and scarves.