It only takes a few moments of chatting with Suzanne Knezovic to realize just how artistically sensible she is.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Suzanne admits she’s always been into fashion—the unconventional, imaginative, expressive kind. And she’s incredibly proud of her Croatian heritage, too, which is where she drew inspiration from to create her signature coffee stain look. “The Croatian coffee culture is renowned worldwide—we drink a lot of coffee on diverse occasions. Our golden standard of good manners is represented by gifting packs of coffee. It’s not just a morning propellant, it’s our primary requirement of happiness,” says Knezovic.
Her SUZII K label draws inspiration from the likes of Valentino, but her own methods are very distinct and decidedly home-grown. How? She’s actually stained her garments herself using natural coffee, a brand-new concept she presented at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane (MBFF Brisbane) in 2015.
Caterina Jewelry chatted with Suzanne about SUZII K—from the creative aspects of building a fashion label to designing her collections and finding inspiration, plus her very favorite jewelry, makeup, and wardrobe staples. And she’s giving away some very much-appreciated style tips for the season, too.
CJ: Where does your creativity come from?
SK: My creativity comes from being myself. The SUZII K Girl is a lady boss who exudes effortless class, but also knows how to have fun along the way. When sketching a new collection or style, I tend to draw upon European luxe—usually, either destinations or designers.
CJ: Where did you first become aware of fashion?
SK: Fashion has always represented an important of my life. Ever since I was a child, I would dress up in my mother’s and grandmother’s scarves, and watch Paris Fashion Week shows on TV. However, it wasn’t until the age of sixteen, after attending the “Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future” exhibition at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) that I really tapped into fashion design.
When did you decide to create your own fashion brand?
SK: At the age of sixteen I just knew I was going to create my fashion brand—and I was resolute not to settle for anything less. I wanted the CEO position, and that also inspired the style of SUZII K.
CJ: Were there any aspects of your personal life that enabled you to develop your own creative sensibility?
SK: During my senior year, I was actively looking for opportunities to deepen my design knowledge. Much to my disappointment, fashion design wasn’t a subject offered at school, so I liked to experiment with visual arts as much as possible. I would often participate in design workshops and competitions during weekends and holidays.
CJ: How do you find inspiration for all of your collections?
SK: I don’t have one source of inspiration—I take it from anything and everywhere. It’s certainly something everyone says, and I know it’s not a particularly original way to put it. Last year I’ve finally decided which direction the brand was going, and ultimately, who the SUZII K girl really is.
CJ: Do you have any wardrobe staples?
SK: Yes, shoes—I find myself dressing from the shoes up most of the time. But I just can’t decide between classic heels and statement shoes. I also love any pieces that pair comfort with effortless style, like my boyfriend cut jeans with pearl studs. It’s a joy to dress them up on my casual days.
CJ: Name one makeup product you never leave the house without.
SK: Does nail polish count? *laughs* I can never leave the house for an event or meeting without my nails properly enameled.
CJ: How do you like to wear your jewelry?
SK: I like eclectic jewelry stacks, like I’m wearing now. I love to layer chokers and necklaces together, and stack many bracelets on my wrists. I’m not a big fan of rings anymore, but a classy watch is always a welcome addition.
CJ: What are your favorite CJ pieces?
SK: I love the red Minimalista and Kiss Kiss bracelets, but most of all I love the Paris Hearts earrings—they aren’t bold, but still make a statement, and they’re incredibly easy to style with just about anything.
CJ: Finally, what are your style tips for the season?
SK: Fun, flirty, and feminine styles have made a shift this season. We’re seeing lots of frills with hints of pleating, soft fabrics mixed with added structure, and the more tailored look. I feel like Caterina Jewelry matches the season well—no-fuss jewelry that still looks fabulous.