Troubled designer seeks a fresh start

Joanne Pellew knows she is going to be followed by controversy but is determined not to let her past define her.

The swimwear designer is preparing to launch Bandi Bandi into the commercial market, her first label since she created the now defunct Kooey Australia.

In 2008 Pellew was touted as the next big thing in Australian swimwear but that all fell apart when she and her former husband Ramli Hajinoor were found guilty of conspiring with family members with intent to sell or supply cannabis.

Her conviction came shortly after her Aboriginal-inspired swimwear label Kooey held an extravagant launch at the 2008 Perth Fashion Festival and impressed fashion devotees across the country.

After serving 18 months in Bandyup Prison, Pellew sought and failed to reclaim Kooey from the Silverthorne family who had taken ownership of the brand.

"They thought they could do what I do without having me involved and obviously that didn't happen," Pellew said. Now that Kooey had ceased production, Pellew said she felt she could begin a commercial swimwear business again.

Pellew is determined to rebuild her life and design career.

"For other people it would have been a lot harder but I am a very resilient person," she said.

Pellew and Vivien's Model Management's Christine Fox were on the hunt in Perth this week for the face of Bandi Bandi, named after a striking black and white ringed snake from northern Australia.

The West Australian

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