When it comes to insults, Nadia Bartel has heard it all, but the description people forget to use before “WAG” and “influencer” is “designer.”
With the success of her Henne brand’s runway debut at Australian Fashion Week in May, and a cozy new store in Melbourne, it’s the succinct title that best fits the former model as she gazes in the mirror of the dressing room.
But go ahead, call it what you want because Bartel is pretty picky about who she listens to, now.
“Anyone can have their own perception of me, although I can tell you that most of the ones that appear in the media are false,” says Bartel, 37. “Over time I would love for people to see how hard I work, but I’m not going to tell them what to think.
“You can’t change other people’s opinions. Your friends and family know who you are.”
Hard work has gotten Bartel through a difficult period, including his high-profile divorce from former AFL Geelong footballer Jimmy Bartel and an infamous appearance next to a Kmart license plate with white powder in a social media video last year.
Controversy behind him, Bartel’s admirable work ethic is now paying off. Who needs a revenge dress? What’s better than a whole brand of revenge filled with skintight knitwear, vegan leather trench coats that take baby blue from pretty to powerful, and ribbed dresses in butter tones that flirt with modesty?
Bartel founded Henne three years ago with her sister Michelle Ring and former Witchery buyer Laura Broque, after developing e-boutique The Connection, which sold Australian brands like Camilla And Marc and PE Nation. After quietly launching Henne on The Connection, the clothing’s success encouraged them to shut down the website and focus solely on their own elevated basics.
“I’m very involved in every piece we create,” says Bartel. “Just a few months ago we hired our first designer. Laura’s business background, my sister being sophisticated and classic and me being somewhere in between keeps us on the right track.”