There is something Shakespearean and whimsical about Denise Kelly’s designs, like a romantic scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Denise herself has trouble pinpointing her exact style.
“I’m a chameleon, what I do is more like 3D art,” she said.
“It’s quirky, and a bit fantasy. I like steam punk, bohemian looks.”
She layers lace, sheer fabrics, tulle and muslin to create texture.
No two garments are ever the same. Denise’s custom-made clothing is a collaboration between client and creator, which doesn’t date or concern itself with so-called high fashion. That’s not to say Denise’s work hasn’t enjoyed its fair share of accolades over the years.
In 2001, she and a fellow Bundaberg designer won the racewear category in the Retailers Association of Queensland (RAQ) Fashion Awards.
The highly popular, now defunct, state-wide annual competition was televised for more than a decade. Denise contributed a beautiful black and white floral headpiece and extensive waistband embellishments to the winning look.
Denise was a milliner in 1993 when she and other local designers created the Bourbong Street co-working studio and shop, known as Upstairs Designers.
Today she sells unique, ready-to-wear bridal, formal, evening and smart-casual wear.
All of Denise’s dresses feature exquisitely detailed, handsewn embellishments. “My mother, Joan was a seamstress who taught me fine needlework,” she said.