Designer Sasha making waves
Designer Sasha-Rose Hartley

At just 24, budding designer Sasha-Rose Hartleylooks set to take the Australian fashion world by storm.

Having launched her first-ever designer collection under her self-titled label Sasha-Rose in April on the back of Sydney's prestigious Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, the WA born-and-bred creative, left, has already managed to capture attention from some of the country's most respected fashion elites.

So when she decided to put her talents to the test and apply for the fourth season of Foxtel's reality fashion series, Project Runway Australia, it seemed fitting to showcase her new collection at her interview.

It proved a worthwhile move for Hartley, who impressed renowned designer and Project Runway Australia mentor Alex Perry with her 1940s-inspired designs.

"I showed them most of my collection during my interview and Alex Perry just loved it," Hartley told Access All Areas by phone from Sydney. "I think they loved that I used all these different textures. With that collection, I based it all around my hand-dyed letters which I got dyed custom for me. I think that's what they really liked."

Though she has been living in Sydney since 2003 - where she moved to study fashion design - Hartley grew up in the town of Denmark, in WA's Great Southern region.

But life in the country wasn't always easy for Hartley, who admits she never really fitted in with the small-town crowd.

"I started sewing when I was about 10 and for my 13th birthday I got a sewing machine, though my friends thought it was a little bit weird," Hartley said.

"I started making dance costumes and things for school like outfits and stuff but I always kind of knew that I didn't really belong in the country because I'd wear bright purple pants to school and crazy things like that. The teachers were always, like, 'Where's Sasha today, I bet she's not wearing any uniform'. It was really funny."

Though inspired to tap into her love of fashion by her artist mother, who among many things was a visual merchandiser and a children's book illustrator, Hartley said it wasn't until she moved to Sydney that she decided to make something of her passion for fashion.

"I suppose when I was in school I never really saw it as a career, it never came up, you always think things like a doctor or lawyer or an accountant," she said. "I always thought I'd end up doing something like that, so I never really thought at all that I'd be doing fashion.

"I never thought about it until I was about 17, when I started studying it in Sydney, which was one of the main reasons why I moved because there were no fashion courses in Denmark."

While Hartley described her experience on Project Runway Australia as "hectic" and "crazy", she said it also helped her realise that she had chosen the right career path.

"The best part of going on the show was it gave me the confidence to know that this is what I'm meant to be doing for the rest of my life," she said.

"I'm 24, and a lot of my friends my age still don't know what they want to do, so for me to know that it's what I want to do for the rest of my life, that's the best thing that I took from the show, knowing now that I can go for it 100 per cent."

Project Runway Australia premieres next Monday at 5.30pm on Foxtel's Arena channel.

The West Australian

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