DESIGNER: Renee Verdon at her shop VOUS.FOR four years Renee Verdon commuted to Sydney to complete her studies at Ultimo TAFE’s highly regarded Fashion Design Studio. After studying psychology, it was an itch she felt compelled to scratch despite the travel and long days.

“It was really eye-opening,” Verdon says of the bachelor of fashion design. “I learnt everything from pattern making to production.”

Verdon was never tempted to relocate to Sydney and has instead created a small boutique within The Emporium, the ground floor of the former David Jones building brought to life by Renew Newcastle. She combines her career as a psychologist who specialises in working with young people with her burgeoning womenswear label VOUS.

“I do everything from scratch and there are lots of stages,” says Verdon, who can often be seen cutting out patterns in the light-filled boutique. “Once I finish the patterns, I do the fittings and then grade the patterns [adapt for various sizes].”

She uses an Australian wholesaler to source fabric here and overseas – she also designs her own – and her range is manufactured in Sydney. Every step in the process demands attention to detail and is fuelled by creativity.

Verdon designs two seasonal ranges a year and her upcoming autumn/winter capsule, which will be in stock later this month, is inspired by the art deco era of travel. Navy will feature, as will wide-legged pants, her signature dresses, wools and heavy cottons.

The generous sizes and high-quality fabrics reflect Verdon’s commitment to her customers, which also inspired the label’s name: “vous” is French for “you”. Verdon is also happy to create one-off designs for special occasions. “I wanted a label that represents the customer, as individual as they are,” she says.