Luom Ousby is a luxury minimalist at heart. The Vietnam-born and New Zealand-raised designer first took up needle and thread as a child, designing and sewing her first garments with her mother at just 8 years of age, and setting her on a course that would take her to fashion college and culminate with a Diploma in Fashion Design & Textile in 1996.
Her distinctive signature style was recognised the following year when she placed as runner-up in the prestigious New Zealand Smoke-Free Fashion Awards, collecting a slew of high distinctions in the process.
In 1998 Luom relocated to Sydney and by 2006 she had set up shop in fashion-hub Paddington, bringing her vision of luxury minimalism to life by catering to brides and special event customers looking for style well beyond the mainstream. Her form-fitting gowns have become her staple and have been worn by many celebrities.
Over 20 years of working with brides, in particular, has provided Luom with unparalleled experience into what they really want and what makes them happy. “My edge as a designer is my insight into the women who embrace a minimalist aesthetic and how they want to convey their identity on a day when all eyes are on them.
Designing is telling a story. My designs are all about the woman wearing the dress, rather than the dress wearing the woman. I believe a woman should ultimately look and feel sexy in whatever she wears. My definition of sexy is about not being obvious – it’s about being subtle in order to create mystique. Revealing less, whilst hinting at more through form, is the key to being alluring”
Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Luom to discuss her journey in the fashion world and here’s what went down:
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I knew from a very young age that fashion would be a huge part of my life. I was always very creative, whether it be sketching clothes, writing stories, drawing, or painting.
Growing up I was a little quirky, or they say the black sheep in the family. But looking back at some of the clothes I was wearing then as an 8- 10 yr old, I could say I was ahead of my time?
All my clothes consisted of me designing them and then spending the weekend sewing with my mother. There were some questionable designs in the early stages! (laughs)
The time spent with my mother learning how to make patterns and going to fabric stores was such a favourite pastime.
That period of my life was a very special time with my mother and our love for making clothes created such a close bond. One I still remember 40 years later.
That’s what I love about fashion! The connection that it can create between people!
What do you like most about being a designer?
Freedom. That there is no right or wrong when it comes to being a designer. Fashion and Art are individual interpretations.
Designing has always given me creative freedom, and I can’t imagine my life without having this creative space available to me.
Downside to being a fashion designer?
Aside from the pressure and high expectations we put on ourselves, there really isn’t a great deal to say negatively about being a fashion designer.
I feel very privileged and fortunate to do what I love most. I think a lot of designers would agree with that.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?
There are a few memorable moments to recall, but the one I have the fondest memory of would have to be showing at New York Fashion Week 2016.
This was a wonderful experience, purely because I had to push myself to a new level of pressure to make it happen. It was an extremely tight deadline, having just come off Australian Bridal Fashion Week. Trying to put together a NEW collection and coordinating a team, all within 5 weeks was a lot of work, to say the least.
It was a challenging time, but we did it! The value of having my husband, my sister, and close friends by my side right to the end was so important and unforgettable.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
A celebrity would be a cliche to name, but for me, I feel this would have to be some of the clients I have been lucky enough to have met and have created a bond with.
All the women over the years that I have had the pleasure of working closely with and designing gowns for, have taught me a lot.
Sometimes as designers, we don’t give ourselves enough credit, and I have found that through my wonderful clients, they have shown me such immense appreciation for the work that is achieved.
Working as a designer especially when designing brides their dream wedding gowns, we help bring to life their vision.
The joy I get to see amongst their families, and all the interesting stories that are shared is what I value most.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
Evolve with the industry, otherwise, you will be left behind! Grow as a business, and move with the times.
Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?
Yes. Extremely supportive. It has been detrimental to my career having their support and knowing they have been behind me 100% (especially my husband).
I definitely could not have done it alone.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
The advice I would tell my younger self is that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. And learn from them quickly!
When I started my fashion label (2004), I wanted to do it all. I worked in the business, rather than on the business.
I finally realised one person can not do everything, especially if you want to grow. Learn to have the right people in the places to help grow your business.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
In any business, learn to delegate to free up your time so that you can use your expertise skills the best way possible!
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
In the current conditions with Covid, we have shifted the LUOM.O brand to meet the demands of the preferred choice of online shopping.
Before all this, our brand had such a strong custom-design clientele, where clients would come in for 4-5 fittings. This area of designing is barely a thing now.
We have re-focused on how to provide for our customers by creating a strong online presence.
Most importantly we continue to support our customers in many ways by making sure the customer service level is high and does not differ from whether you shop online to shopping personally in-store.
We look forward to having those one-on-one experiences and creating some custom masterpieces in the near future!