July 31, 2020 |
Known around the world for many things— acting chops, UGGS and Vegemite come to mind—the Aussies have quietly taken over the East End, and this time, it’s their sartorial swagger that’s capturing our attention. Usually tall, tan and lanky, Hamptaussies (little nomenclature mashup we might have to trademark) exhibit the stylish qualities that seem to define their national personality: easy, breezy but oh-sounforgettable. This got us thinking: What’s in that Aussie lemonade with bitters that makes their soignee ways such fodder for style savants? We turned to Laura Brown, InStyle editor-in-chief and Australian arbiter-in-charge, to shed some light on the matter. “Australian summer style has a real sense of relaxation to it, which is why so many people are gravitating to it out East,” she recently told me after wrapping up a weekend in Montauk. “I could think of worse than a Valiánte kaftan to the beach, a Sold Out tee to lunch and a Zimmermann dress to dinner. You want to wear these clothes on the weekend. And in Australia, if we had our way, it would be the weekend all the time.”
Speaking of the titular “End,” Montauk is definitely Ground Zero for all Hamptaussie happenings with Australian stylish duo Sasha and Oliver Benz—she of the growing fashion empire and he of the good looks and a dance single titled “Rhythm Romance”—holding court. Some credit must go to one photographer and his famous parties of the past. “I was first drawn to Montauk by my good friend Ben Watts and his Shark Attack party. It was our first summer after we moved from Sydney, and Ben invited us out and then that was it. We were hooked!” explains Valiánte’s Julz Valiant, who is inspired by the ways of Montauk girls who chase the sun. You know the kind—”quite nomadic and fashion adaptable,” Valiant says. “She can be in the city in one of our print maxi dresses and heels on a Thursday and by Friday she’s on the Jitney in one of our handloomed cotton kaftans and slides!” Though based in L.A. now, Valiant is out East often dishing out her signature mellow looks, and for a good reason. “The laid-back surf and fishing vibe of Montauk reminds us all a lot of home, the small coastal community feel,” she adds.
With one Watts doing the bewitching, leave it to the other Watts to do the endorsing. “Valiánte cotton dresses and kaftans are a summer essential and absolutely perfect for vacation-packing,” Naomi Watts, who knows a thing or two about fashion and travel, shares with me. Watts, along with other bold names like Brooke Shields, Christy Turlington, Molly Sims and Gucci Westman, also champions Sold Out NYC. A brainchild of Southampton Hamptaussie Kiane von Mueffling, the collection is known for its comfy, Hamptonperfect statement tees that, if von Mueffling has her way, will be the hardest-working items in your closet. “You know when you open your drawer and you are so wildly disappointed when the one thing you love is in the wash?” says the accidental designer, who launched the brand as a creative outlet after years in branding and banking. “That’s exactly what I want our pieces to be.”
Kiane Von Mueffling
Part of this successful Aussie takeover might be their sticking together-ness. You meet one and soon you will meet them all, as was the case with writing this story. Another part of that Down Under effect is a sense of humor, sartorial and otherwise (one has to have one to think that those big felt hats they all seem to wear can work with frilly dresses, yet they do). “Aussies always love to have a good laugh,” explains von Mueffling. “It’s who we are. That comes through loud and clear in our brand aesthetic. We call our Insta ‘digital Prozac.’ It is laden with quotes that we both write and source. Our customers love them. I mean, without a laugh, what have you really got?”
Photography by: Kiane Von Mueffling and Laura Brown photos courtesy of Sold Out NYC; Julz Valiant photo by Ben Watts; product photos courtesy of brands.