Genevieve Smart, Fashion Designer

As one half of the designer sibling duo, Ginger & Smart, Genevieve Smart is one fashionable woman; the mother of two has had quite the stylish career with the label she shares with sister, Alexandra. Fashion Week after Fashion Week and runways aplenty, Ginger & Smart holds reign as one of the top Australian labels in the sartorial scene. Fashion mavericks of print and colour (their beautiful designs are a hybrid of playful and polished), they continue to adorn editorial pages and have a celebrity fan base including Miranda Kerr and Natalie Bassingthwaighte. With her fiery bob, piercing cerulean eyes and softly spoken demeanour, Genevieve maintains a calmness that still holds the attention of a room; a must in the frenetic world of a fashion boss, and likely the secret to such long-standing success.

We recently took a drive to picturesque Avalon, in Sydney’s Northern beaches, to visit Genevieve, who graciously welcomed us into her seaside abode. High amongst the treetops and with whiffs of salty air we chatted about her skin love affair with The Clinic, her favourite red lippy and a beautifully nourishing and fragrant tea to thwart the onset of a nasty cold.

 

“I keep it pretty simple. 

I use Cosmedix Cleansing Oil which gives a deep cleanse, removing sunscreen and makeup. It’s a mix of argan and olive oil so it leaves my skin feeling dewy. I use The Clinic Moisturiser, it has lots of goodies like peptides, sea buckthorn and plant stem cells and it’s paraben and preservative free. I’ve tried so many different moisturisers but for me, this one actually works. I also use Cosmedix Opti Crystal Eye Serum. I carry this and rosehip oil in my handbag if my skin needs a lift.

beautifully etheral in an all-white ginger & smart ensemble 

beautifully etheral in an all-white ginger & smart ensemble 

 
her skin saviour is the clinic in bondi junction

her skin saviour is the clinic in bondi junction

Kaye at The Clinic almost mentors me with my skin.

She teaches me what to do to look after it and just keep it exfoliated with peels and antioxidants. I sometimes do the Blueberry Peel with her before I’m going to an event or do the Societe Peptide Gel Mask at home. It’s great for brightening my skin if I am going somewhere special or have just come off a long flight, it just gives that extra hit of moisture. I’ve also done the Thermage treatment at The Clinic. It was good for me; it’s like an intense heat treatment deep in your skin tissue. The heat just stimulates your own collagen. I like it because it’s a really natural way to age well. 

 

I try and look after my skin from the inside...

...[so] I take vitamins for skin. So much of your skin condition is about your gut lining, so I take probiotics, multivitamins and fish oil. 

 

Sunscreen is a big thing for my sisters and I. 

With our fair skin, our mother always covered us in sunscreen when we were growing up, back when it was totally uncool to wear anything with a ‘plus’ sign on it. The other girls were wearing 4 or 6 SPF and we were wearing 15 plus. Now I make my kids wear 50 plus. I have lots of different sunscreens for different times. I’ve only just discovered the La Roche Posay, it has less chemicals in it than most and has a smooth finish. I’ve got sunscreen stashed everywhere; there’s pump packs at the door, in my glove box, the kids school bags, my bag and on my desk. We lived in England until I was six, when we came out here I remember thinking ‘Oh my God, what is this burning sensation on my skin?!’ 

sun smart; she is religious about sunscreen application 

sun smart; she is religious about sunscreen application 

 
giving good face; ysl for foundation and concealer plus diorshow for lashes

giving good face; ysl for foundation and concealer plus diorshow for lashes

For makeup I wear YSL Le Teint Encre De Peau

It's light and makes your skin feel like silk. I combine this with its little friend, the Touche Eclat. I do a little cheekbone contour, but I use the same colour on my eyes as well so it’s really simple. I’m currently using Diorshow mascara, and Great Lash is still a '70s cult classic favourite. 

 

I play by the rule of either a lip or an eye but never both. 

I’ll use Nars Kohliner and colour in between the lashes and smudge it with a brush and then do a nude lip. I do love a red lip but always with a natural eye. 

 

If I’m fading at the studio in the afternoon I’ll reach for the red lipstick...

...and a green tea. I have a library of colours from coral red to cherry reds.  The one I always return to is the MAC Lady Danger. It’s a modern red and super matte. I don’t do a shiny lip, ever. 

 

I’m really into natural skin... 

...and am loving wearing no foundation, just sunscreen and a little concealer. I’ve always covered my freckles but lately don’t mind a little smattering. I sometimes use the MAC Skinfinish, but I’m not really a powdery girl. I quite like dewy skin, I think powder can be a little ageing. 

a lick of lady danger is genevieve's afternoon pick-me-up

a lick of lady danger is genevieve's afternoon pick-me-up

 
fragrance

fragrance

I like to combine fragrances...

...which would make most noses on perfumers turn. On my wedding day I combined Jo Malone fragrances, the Red Roses and the Fig. I do a figure of eight – one in front, one in the back – so when you walk in you get a different scent to when you leave. I wear the Aesop Marrakesh; I’m drawn to its raw androgynous blend of oriental woody and floral fragrances. The Herve Domar we found in Paris and now stock in our own stores. I love the unusual blends of mandarin, almond, rose heart and sandalwood.

 

I love our new Ginger & Smart candles that are inspired by nature. 

The Latitude candle is herbal woody and smoky like Australian bush leaves. Strange Beautiful has notes of rose, blackcurrant and iris. Daring Greatly has musky notes of cardamom, tangerine, clove, rose and patchouli. They are always burning in my home and through the studio.

ysl and mac beauty, cool celine frames and ginger & smart candle and bag

ysl and mac beauty, cool celine frames and ginger & smart candle and bag

 
hair herald; wella sp luxe oil and aveda are bathroom staples 

hair herald; wella sp luxe oil and aveda are bathroom staples 

I have a lot of hair. 

I think I’ll be happier about the volume as I get older. I’ve had many undercuts over the years. I use hydrating products like Wella Keratin Conditioning Cream because if my hair is dehydrated it gets wild. My seven-year-old daughter has the same wild locks so we literally coat our hair in Wella Oil every morning. We sometimes leave coconut oil on our hair overnight and, in summer, on my body too.

 

I go to Renya at Valonz...

...and Ash does a little colour or just an Olaplex gloss treatment. Renya obviously does the best cut in the world; she’s the first person that could really cut my hair. Blow-dries take forever so I never have the time, but if I do, I prefer how they look on day two. 

 

The top of the garden is the place I can disappear to meditate.

It’s breezy and peaceful and looks out over Pittwater. I meditate at least once a day for 20 minutes. The car is actually quite a good place to meditate so I’ll often do it in the car park at work. Meditation is good for me creatively and analytically. On a good day I’ll resolve things in the first few minutes and then have a really peaceful meditation and other days it’s chaos in my mind. Every meditation is different and part of the process. 

 

Gary Gorrow is my meditation teacher.

I do rounding days here in Avalon, once every couple of months, which is about 4 hours of mediating and yoga. It’s a great refresh for me mentally and I always feel the benefits for weeks afterwards. I found meditation really intense when I first started but now it’s just part of my day.

striking in ginger & smart's pretty prints 

striking in ginger & smart's pretty prints 

 
genevieve adheres to the mantra that good skin starts from within 

genevieve adheres to the mantra that good skin starts from within 

I tend to have lots of greens and salmon.

My vice would be coffee but I hear it makes you smarter so it can’t be all bad. I also love good cheese with a glass of Rosé – it’s the French side [of me] coming out. Luckily one of my great friends is a fantastic trainer so she punishes us a couple of days a week down at Whale Beach or Palmy. She brings a whistle but it’s mainly to stop us all talking! 

 

I try to sneak out in the mornings before the kids wake up… 

…and run up the steep stairs to the headland behind our house. If I’m too busy or travelling, I’ll do 100 squats, sit-ups and push-ups in 10 minutes. I don’t do a lot, but I do a couple of sessions and some yoga just to keep things in place.

 

I burn Palo Santo. 

It’s wood from a fallen fragrant tree that grows in South America and is related to frankincense – in Spanish, the name literally means, ‘Holy Wood’. It is part of the citrus family and has sweet notes of pine, mint and lemon. It’s meant to be healing and good for grounding energy but I just love the fragrance. My husband always panics that something is on fire when I burn it in the morning. I actually first got Palo Santo in London from a girl in Shoreditch who has a gorgeous little organic shop and was burning it in the little brass bowl. She didn’t sell it but she gave me some pieces. 

 

She also gave me the recipe for a Hot Toddy… 

…that is amazing when a cold is coming on. [It’s a tea made of] tumeric, rosehip, cayenne, honey bee pollen, ginger, goji berries, lemon and camu camu.

woody wonders; palo santo alongside aesop's marrakech 

woody wonders; palo santo alongside aesop's marrakech 

 
tropical delights; lucas paw paw, mac lipstick and opi polish

tropical delights; lucas paw paw, mac lipstick and opi polish

I was most captivated early on by the psychology of fashion. 

It’s part of the human experience to get dressed every day and can often be how we communicate who we are. That moment of transformation is really interesting to me. It’s when your heart beats faster and you feel a sense of reinvention when you try on a new dress. I kind of rely on this gut sense of newness to guide me when we are working on the collection. We design all the prints, fabrics and colours at the studio and mostly start with just a concept and then sketch or paint until we get the feeling.

 

I’ve always felt quite connected to nature and the landscape…

…and find endless inspiration from Mother Nature. This is the Reverie dress from the current Shadowland collection that we showed in Paris last October. This collection was exploring the enigma of shadows that can be aloof and moody and a gentle reflection of stark reality. This print captures the ever-changing light and shade with an impressionist approach by using pure colour and thin brush strokes to create an impression of light and movement. We create all our textures including jacquards and laces, so we’re always experimenting with new techniques. For the Latitude season, inspired by the Australian landscape, we developed delicate laces that are actually tiny wattle branches or lizard skin. The Ghost Gum dress was a quick ink drawing of a gum blossom that we wanted to feel spontaneous and minimal. 

artisnal love; whimsical prints of australian natives

artisnal love; whimsical prints of australian natives

 
balenciaga babies; a pair of trainers she tracked down in paris and london

balenciaga babies; a pair of trainers she tracked down in paris and london

My personal style is reflective of Ginger & Smart. 

I definitely balance the polished and playful and the masculine and feminine. I don’t know if it’s about being a Libran but it’s all about balance. I don’t often wear other brands. Sunglasses yes, and some shoes. My latest sunglasses are Valentino from Le Bon Marche in Paris. My latest shoes were Balenciaga trainers that had sold out all over Paris and London, but Liberty ordered in the last pair for me. I don’t have time to shop at all but if it’s epic I’ll hunt it down."

 

Story and styling by Chrisanthi Kaliviotis; photography by Daniel Gurton; makeup by Tina Vaiasinni for Bobbi Brown; hair by Terri Robertson-Kirkwood for Aveda.