In Style + Design

Perth Curated: Alvin Fernandez, Designer, Ae’lkemi

Alvin Fernandez is just one year shy of celebrating 20 years at the helm of Ae’lkemi. The fashion designer shares the inside scoop on Perth's most stylish hot spots.

Alvin Fernandez is just one year shy of celebrating 20 years at the helm of Ae’lkemi. Now a firm red carpet favourite amongst Australian celebrities, socialites and WAGs, Ae’lkemi arose from humble beginnings in 1998.

Establishing his brand while living in the world’s most isolated capital city, Fernandez is proof that locality doesn’t necessarily weigh in to success.

“Perth is home. It has given me the opportunity to express my creativity and start my brand from the ground up,” Fernandez says.

“It’s a such a cop out when others complain that you can’t get want you want living in Perth. I say stop being so lazy and work harder. I love Perth; the people and the laid-back nature of it all. And of course, we have the best beaches.”

Alvin Fernandez Ae’lkemi perth

Some of Alvin Fernandez’s designs for Ae’lkemi. Photo: Ae’lkemiInvolved in every aspect of his business, from the sketching process through to hand beading the finishing touches, Fernandez says “It is important as a designer to not just design, but understand the logistics and maintain quality consistency.”

“Strong women, both current and in history, are my muses. Music also plays a vital role in inspiring me – from classical to old school tech. Sometimes it’s a period in history that is rich in culture and has a damn good story.”

Fernandez draws his inspiration from all corners of life, and his materials from all corners of the world, hand crafting his couture from luxury fabrics, Swarovski crystals, French lace and seed pearls.

“The idea is not to hide the body, but to enhance the curves,” says Fernandez.

“Women wear couture because they know there is nothing else in the world that is more powerful than being in a dress hand made specifically for them.”

Alvin Fernandez's designs for Ae’lkemi

Some of Alvin Fernandez’s designs for Ae’lkemi. Photo: Ae’lkemi

In his 20 years as the driving force behind Ae’lkemi, Fernandez has racked up the accolades. Being nominated for WA designer of the year 5 times, he is the only designer to have won the title 3 years consecutively.

Fernandez is also the first Australian designer to be inducted in to the Asian Couture Federation. After showing his collections at New York fashion week, Milan fashion week, Mercedes Benz fashion week Australia, and G’day USA, the sky is the limit for Ae’lkemi.

“Ae’lkemi is always growing and international exposure is always on our path. We showed in Beijing recently and it’s a growing market for us that we will be exploring,” says Fernandez.

Here are Fernandez’s tips for making the most of Perth.

Alvin Fernandez on the best high-end boutiques

alvin fernandez designer

Dilettante in Claremont. Photo: Facebook

“I’m always in jeans and tee! Elle Boutique and Dilettante always have a fresh take on international brands, ranging from Pucci and Alexander McQueen, to Rick Owens and Acne.”

The best all-round shopping and eating precincts

alvin fernandez perth

Fremantle offers great shopping and eating precincts. Photo: Visit Fremantle

“In Claremont, you have everything you need. From great cafes and restaurants, to fashion – both street and high end. Perth City has all the high end international brands, from Prada, to Gucci and Chanel. It’s a one stop shop all there on King St. Fremantle is great for something with a totally different vibe. They have local brands, and boutiques stocking WA made brands. It has more relaxed feel because it is quite coastal too.”

The best places to go for a drink

Alvin Fernandez perth

399 Bar in Perth. Photo: 399 Bar

“I tend to stay away from “fashionable” places and head into bars that have a great atmosphere and great drinks instead. There are so many little haunts in Northbridge to go for a good drink – for example 399 Bar – and even The Old Laundry in North Perth. Bar Lafayette in the city has a great drinks menu, and Friday after work drinks are always a nice way to end the working week.

Shadow Wine Bar in Northbridge has a great wine list and is perfect for a feed as well. Petition Wine Bar is nice spot in the CBD with great service and well stocked menu.”

The best weekend brunch spots

alvin fernandez perth

A coconut pandan crème patisserie doughnut from Mary Street Bakery. Photo: Facebook

“I’m never up early enough for brunch! When I do have time for brunch (on the odd occasion), Mary Street Bakery in Highgate has great eggs, and just good, easy, tasty food.

Brooklyn Lounge in Claremont does the best hang over brunch and it really does the trick to help you feel alive again. Bread in Common in Fremantle is such a cool location. It has a laid-back atmosphere, and the bread is so good. Northbridge Chinese Restaurant has the best weekend dim sum. It is fast food that is good for you, but it always leaves you with a food coma.”

Alvin Fernandez on the best fashion labels coming out Perth right now

alvin fernandez perth

Designs by One Fell Swoop. Photo: One Fell Swoop

Hoodedwept – They are A WA brand focusing on both women’s and menswear. I love his story behind his brand. He pushes the boundaries for a more directional concept, producing high end streetwear fashion.

“I love One Fell Swoop too. They produce beautifully crafted, draped pieces. I love how effortless they look, despite being full of complexities.”

(Lead image (portrait): Alvin Fernandez. Photo: Supplied. Lead image (horizontal): One of Alvin Fernandez’s designs for Ae’Ikemi. Photo: Ae’Ikemi)

Published 11 September, 2017