Friendship was born

Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of 'Romance Was Born' in the stairwell of their studio in Darlinghurst, Sydney. 22nd June 2012 . Photo by Tamara Dean
Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of 'Romance Was Born' in the stairwell of their studio in Darlinghurst, Sydney. 22nd June 2012 . Photo by Tamara Dean

Luke Sales & Anna Plunkett

Luke Sales, 31, and Anna Plunkett, 29, are the duo behind the celebrated fashion label Romance Was Born. They met in 2002, when they were both studying at East Sydney TAFE's Fashion Design Studio.

Luke: We didn't really talk until the end of first year. I was always under the impression that Anna was too cool to be my friend. I was kind of in awe of her all the time. She looked like she definitely had her own thing going on. She'd come to school and she would have been at the women's pool in Coogee. She'd have, like, her bikini on and a T-shirt, a pair of thongs and a backpack. She looked like she'd just got out of the car from the beach. Her approach to everything seemed relaxed and cool.

Then she had a party at her house. I remember chatting the night away with her and going through her record collection and talking music. Not fashion. We still don't really talk about fashion. It's weird.

After the party, we started hanging out more. Then, because we'd become such close friends and knew we had a similar aesthetic, I could tell that Anna was my competition because no one else was doing what we were doing. Whenever we'd hand in an assignment, I'd see her work - and a lot of what I'd done was mirrored in her work and vice versa. After a while we started doing assignments together. I hung out at her house in Surry Hills [in inner Sydney].
In 2005, we got selected to compete in the finals of ITS 4 [Italy's fourth International Talent Support awards]. After that, we were asked to come to Paris to John Galliano's office. We were shown around Galliano's studio and, at the end of it, a woman dropped the bomb that we were, like, offered internships. She said that later we'd be offered jobs with Galliano in Paris. We didn't know we were going to get offered that job, and we weren't prepared.

I knew then that I wanted to keep working with Anna, so we returned to Australia and started up our label instead. People think we must have disagreements about design, but it's not the way things are. And because we've been doing this for so long, we trust each other's intuition. I sometimes
feel, if I'm doing something that's boring, that I need Anna to crazy it up.

We always used to joke that if we started a label, we'd call it Romance Was Born, because it's a pretty weird name. And Anna and I were really obsessed with the idea of love, and going on dates, and boys - and we were young. We were always getting drunk and kissing boys.
As it turns out, the girl I know these days is very different to the girl I became friends with. I thought we were the same people, but we're not the same at all. Anna used to work at the Cricketers Arms Hotel and was always up for a party. I thought she was more crazy than she is. She's actually not crazy at all. She can be neurotic about things being in their right place. She picks pins off the floor.

She hardly drinks any more and she's very health-conscious. She doesn't get stressed very easily. She meditates a lot and she's into Buddhism. She doesn't really show emotion. But she's 100 per cent genuine. I certainly wouldn't have my own label without Anna. It's not something I'd like to do.
We're like brother and sister. There are aspects of my life I wouldn't feel comfortable talking to Anna about, because of that. On the other hand, if I get upset about anything, I much prefer to talk about those things with Anna because I feel we know each other so well.

Anna: He's a very present person. You notice him in a room. He's loud and bright and funny. When we met he was completely uninhibited, free and passionate. He'd get a [fashion school] assignment, and go to the pub, get drunk and do it. I'd take the assignment really seriously. He'd produce something fantastic, totally.

His style is maybe, like, refined crazy. He and I would do day trips to fabric shops in Cabramatta and out west because we were always interested in finding creative things. We'd find fabrics that were kind of like borderline gross, but it's what you do with it. I think that's what a lot of people don't understand about fashion when they see things on the runway that might be crazy. They're not interested because they can't interpret it. But I think Luke interprets life and people's fashion styles in a really unique way. He has an amazing eye.

I remember when I saw his work for the first time. It was backstage at a show. All of us had to do a compulsory project that involved dyeing fabrics. I remember feeling pretty confident about what I'd made. Then I saw this girl go past, and she had this massive pink mohawk and a strapless top with these crazy, beautiful textures and the colours really resonated. I thought, "I'm in trouble." Luke had dyed different fabrics and then sewn them all together. He ended up winning.

At one point we used to live two blocks away from each other in Surry Hills and we'd work out of my kitchen. He'd turn up around 10am or 11am in his pyjamas. He'd have a nice cardigan on over his pyjamas. It was sweet.

He's getting more interested in technology. I remember when we didn't have an email address. I think he got one around 2005. He resisted having an iPhone for so long. It was like, "It's too hard", and I'd say, "Lukey, it's not. You're going to love it", and he totally does now.
We've got really strong personalities but we're pretty opposite, and I think that's what makes us work. As we get older and develop our personalities, I realise why we're working together. I feel like I really need him and he really needs me in a lot of ways.

He gets worked up about things more than I do. I'm a bit more laid-back. I brought him along to my meditation class. He enjoyed it but he got really restless.
If he finds something I might like, he buys it for me. The other day he bought me these pink clip-on diamanté earrings. He kind of styles me and I guess in a way he gives me confidence as well. I think girls are really insecure. Luke's like, "You should totally dye your hair. Go for it."

My boyfriend is like, "Why do you want to decorate yourself? You're beautiful as you are." Luke just says, "Do it. Who cares?"

From: Good Weekend

This story Friendship was born first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.