Gabriella Demetriades is a real style-setter, a classy fashion designer and a total sensation in the fashion world. Her entry in the Indian fashion scenario happened with Miss IPL Bollywood pageant victory and she has a talking point among the fashion connoisseurs ever since. As a passionate fashion designer, Gabriella has brought an interesting and influential label called ‘Deme’ and is doing extremely well on her craft. Hailing from South Africa, she ventured into the fashion industry, modelling and eventually Indian cinema too (With the flick Sonali Cable in 2014). She understands her aesthetics better than anyone else. And it has been integral to her meteoric success. She nurtures talent, makes bold decisions and evolves a brand. Gabriella is a self-believer; she is gorgeous, charismatic and is drawing parallels between new waves of fashion. The Lifestyle Journalist captures moments with this self-made brilliant artiste who gives an unprecedented access to her world in this candid interview.
You seem to be enjoying motherhood? How is the experience?
It’s one of the best things to happen to me and I feel really blessed to experience it and still be able to work. Arik truly brings joy to my life. It’s a completely indescribable feeling to see something that you’ve created!
Has motherhood changed you? If yes, in what ways?
I think I am calmer and more driven. It (being a mother) gives you focus and clarity and that helps with work and all other relationships.
Any qualities you want to gift him or equip him with?
Just to be humble and cool and the rest will fall into place. Work hard and be a good person!
Please tell us about Deme, your clothing label.
I wanted to make beautiful clothing that made women feel sexy, I saw the gap in the market and thus Deme was born. My Next project is very exciting and very close to my heart.
How did modelling happen?
I was a stylist and a photographer asked me if I would like to model, he took some images and the next thing I was travelling the world for work.
Do you remember memories of your first shoot? What was the experience like?
Horrible! I was so bad (on it) and had no idea how to pose, modelling is something you get better with time and I really took time. Now it’s like second nature to know my angles!
How do you view “love”? How would you like to describe it?
The most important thing! That’s love for your work, your family, romantic love, it’s what me tick!
What have you learnt from your failures?
That the path to success is filled with them (failures). And how do you ever succeed if you don’t fail!
How do you take criticism?
Just like most people, not well. But I am learning. As a creative (person) you always think you know the best but you secretly doubt yourself- a lot, however when your mistakes are pointed out, it’s a sore spot!
Tell us about the good and bad sides of the beauty and glamour industry.
There is good and bad (side) of every industry. I guess its slightly more bad in this particular space but there are some incredible people doing some amazing things. Like Stockholm just cancelled Fashion Week because of what is happening to the environment and I see that as the future. We will have to start making serious change.
Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
Yes, I couldn’t think of anything else besides maybe writing. Besides maybe a vet! I love animals and I would love to be able to help them.
How would you describe yourself as an individual?
I am an introvert disguised as an extrovert. I am actually quite a loner but this industry makes you get out there and be bold. I think it’s hard to describe yourself. I guess I try to be the best Gabriella I can be, and that’s hopefully a good person, we all make mistakes and I’ve made many but my heart is in the right place!
Given the stress of the profession, do you go through dark phases?
It’s a roller coaster, but I would rather be on a roller coaster than feel bored! It’s a catch 22 situation- sometimes you are on an extreme high and the next moment its a sudden low. It is important to surround yourself with good people who can lift you up and tell you it’s all going to be ok!
Do you see yourself doing another film soon?
Nope! But I will be styling one soon! Always wanted to do costumes (for films).
How different is the journey for an ‘outsider’ (like from a different industry) in this industry?
It’s massively different. We (as outsiders) actually have to work really hard to get where we are. People who come from the industry (doesn’t matter who they are) have an edge over the others in terms of contacts, skills, etc. It is very polarised and people should understand that it is much harder to succeed as an outsider
Did success change the way people deal with you?
Totally! But it made me appreciate the little guy (the ones who are not as successful) more because I was once there. There are different levels, I am nowhere near where I actually want to be, I have a long way to go and think being humble is the most important thing because we are all just tiny specks in the universe- and no-one is going to remember how many things you owned or how many awards you got but they will remember how you made them feel.
Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?
I see myself running a few successful businesses and having a happy home and family. I would love to give back more once I’ve set myself up, maybe take on more meaningful work in spaces I am interested in. Maybe politics (giggles) who knows from being a model to designer to who knows!
Biggest fairy-tale moment?
I guess I’ve had many small ones. When I look back they make it seem like a fairy-tale. Be grateful for little things, we live in a very privileged industry and it’s important to be aware and thankful!
Tell us about some promise or resolutions that you’ve broken this year (to yourself or someone else).
I said “No sugar” but that’s gone down the drain (laughs) I’ve also promised to be on my phone less, although work makes it very hard. But I would definitely like to have a proper phone detox once a year!
Your favourite memory as a child
Playing dress-up with my brother – probably not his favourite memory (chuckles). But my mothers’ closet was a treasure trove and I used to raid it and dress everyone up from a really young age. I also was lucky to grow up in the outdoors and that’s the best thing for a child- to be able to spend time in outdoor activities.
What do you love the most about yourself?
My sweet little baby boy, my ‘never give up attitude’ and I guess my determination. It’s not an easy industry when you don’t have predecessors in the business or constant stream of funds, well it’s hard! I won’t say I am not privileged but it is challenging in many ways- doing it on your own! However, I am proud to say I have done it on my own and I think it is from the struggle that real joy is born. Being born with a silver spoon means you don’t get to enjoy the highs with the lows. My sweet little baby boy, my ‘never give up attitude’ and I guess my determination. It’s not an easy industry when you don’t have predecessors in the business or constant stream of funds, well its hard! I won’t say I am not privileged but it is challenging in many ways- doing it on your own! However, I am proud to say I have done it on my own and I think it is from struggle that real joy is born. Being born with a silver spoon means you don’t get to enjoy the highs with the lows.
Your makeup routine?
Barely any (routine). I use Bobbi brown mostly and love how they give a very natural look. I like to mix concealer with lots of moisturiser for a glowy look. I’ve recently starting using Charlotte Tilbury– I love the flawless filter.
Your workout routine?
I love to play sport. I play football and I used to box a lot but it often hurts my shoulder so now I do a lot of functional training.
Si or alien
Who is on your speed dial?
My mum, my man, my besties
Who is your spirit animal?
Which book character would you like to play if it was turned into a movie?
Just movies! Probably any of Tom Robbins female characters.
Favourite place in the world and why?
Cape Town- it’s home or maybe Los Angeles.
The first thing you bought with your own paycheck?
Favourite Disney princess?
Cinderella – she is a fashion icon
What TV shows do you binge-watch?
Anything that’s good – Game of Thrones, Californication, Hand Maiden. I’m more of a movie lover but great series can be super addictive. I also recently watched the dark; it’s a German show but really good.
Please tell us about your future projects.
I’ve just launched a new luxury portal selling pre-owned and vintage designer goods called ‘vrtt’ and I’m coming up with a new brand this year too which I’m super excited about. It’s also a women’s fashion brand, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. There are also some interesting collaborations in the pipeline.
Photographer : @navindhyaniphoto
MUA – @ayeshasethstudio
Hair – @madhurihairstylist