Melanie Greensmith, founder of Australian fashion label Wheels and Dollbaby, has announced she is closing her 30-year-old business at the end of the month.
Wheels and Dollbaby is famous for it’s varga girl aesthetic, cashmere cardigans and Greensmith’s little black book.
“It was time for me to close. I wanted to keep my brand name and not have to sell it and I just couldn’t bear to sell it,” she told Fairfax Media of her decision to retire the label just weeks after celebrating three decades in the rag trade with a sell-out show at Perth Fashion Festival.
“My life has changed, I’ve changed. Me and the brand are so intertwined, I’ve grown and it has grown, so it’s time to move on now.
“I am so proud to leave my business at a high time and keep the name I thought of all those years ago in a flat in Melbourne. We took on London, the US and everywhere in between. It’s been an amazing ride,” she said.
Before Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing and Givenchy’s former head designer, Riccardo Tisci, had A-listers like Kim Kardashian West clawing at their ateliers begging to be dressed by them, there was Greensmith. Throughout the ’90s and Noughties, her label was a staple of the rock’n’roll uniform.
The designer – who loves nothing more than being at home on her farm in the Perth Hills with her “man”, The Divinyls guitarist Mark McEntee, her dogs and horses – was one of the first in Australia to leverage celebrity branding. No mean feat in an age before social media. But it was made a little easier as Greensmith didn’t just provide clothes to stars like burlesque queen Dita Von Teese, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, singer Katy Perry and model Jerry Hall; she was their mate.
One of her most enduring friendships is with Hall.
The new Mrs Murdoch was even spotted with her new step-daughter-in-law, Sarah Murdoch, shopping in Wheels and Dollbaby’s Surry Hills headquarters earlier this year.
After meeting in 2010 when Hall starred in the stage production of The Graduate in Perth, the two quickly bonded over their weakness for leopard print and aging rock stars.
“She would pop out the front of the theatre for a ciggie and then one day she came into the store that was just across the road and we just clicked,” she said.
The designer then became a regular at “Jagger Mansion” in London, where she ate cake with her daughters Georgia May and Elizabeth and bonded with Ronnie Wood’s wife, Jo, but admits to not seeing her pal much these days.
“We usually catch up when I’m in London but she’s spending a lot of time in the US with Rupes,” she said.
Travelling is something she is looking forward to taking a break from when she closes up.
“I’m looking forward to not having to design another collection and travel so much. Mark is just as excited as I won’t need to be on the phone all the time,” she said.
While she didn’t rule out a return to design, she describes herself as a “mad interior decorator” who has been buying property since she was 23.
“There’s definitely more things to come.”
My dear Dollbabys, I want to share this with you here first as I know W&DB means as much for many of you as it does for me. After 30 years in business I have decided I want to move on to the next stage of my life, time to enjoy life, my garden, my house, my man, travel – time to be with my loved ones and my 4 legged friends. I will be closing my beloved W&DB at the end of October. Many in the industry and press will wonder why anyone would close a business at the height of success (and we are), but then again I have always done things my way 😉 I am so proud to leave my business at a high time and keep the name I thought of all those years ago in a flat in Melbourne. We took on London, the US and everywhere in between. It’s been an amazing ride. Now I’m off to focus on other interests I have in my life, I thank everyone who has taken part in the ride, partly or fully. I love and appreciate every one of you. Stay glamorous! Melx