“You Can’t Please Everyone”: Nadia Bartel’s Next Chapter Is Her Most Stylish One Yet

The Henne co-founder catches up with marie claire to discuss fashion and her cause célèbre.

Nadia Bartel is not who we know her to be.

The former model turned clothing designer and co-founder of Melbourne’s favourite elevated essential label Henne is no stranger to public attention—and that’s not including her 500,000 Instagram followers.

When marie claire Australia catches up with the designer, she’s a far cry away from the fast-paced style scene of Prahran’s glitterati.

Under the layers of luxury labels and glam makeup lies the Nadia that social media rarely sees: the working mother of two who is far more business savvy than the mainstream media gives her credit for.

Her boys, Aston and Henley, whom she shares with ex-husband and former AFL player Jimmy Bartel, are at home on school holidays, so our chat is intermittently interrupted for Nadia to put on her doting mum hat and console her young children.

Now, several months after Bartel found herself in salacious headlines involving breaking Melbourne’s COVID laws, a Kmart plate and a suspicious line of white powder, Bartel is here to prove that the career she has is well deserved—and something she’s worked so hard to build.

(Credit: Source: @nadiabartel)

A former marie claire employee—which Nadia fondly recounts—Bartel first burst onto the scene as a model before establishing herself as a social media success.

“I had to make this decision to leave [marie claire Australia] because I started using my Instagram, but Instagram was only just sort of starting around there,” Bartel explains.

“I was getting a few different brand deals and it was very ad hoc. But it was amazing to see. But then I was getting more and more of that work and I kind of had to make the decision to leave. But I didn’t want to leave as well.”

Fast forward a few years (and controversies), Bartel is now the proud co-owner of Melbourne-based conscious brand Henne.

Following the label’s debut at Australian Fashion Week this year, Nadia, her sister Michelle Ring and Laura Broque are taking the plunge into brick-and-mortar retail.

The trio have recently opened a Scandi-style boutique on Prahan’s Greville Street, almost three-years to the day after soft launching the elevated essentials label on their now-defunct e-commerce site The Connection.

(Credit: Courtesy of Henne)

Nadia recalls that growing up she “wasn’t very pretty in what I’d wear” but always had a love of fashion, stemming from watching her Nonna sew and handmade crochet knit pieces—almost fortuitous considering how renowned Henne is for their knit pieces.

“When we did start The Connection, we always really wanted to start the brand [Henne] from back then,” she said.

“We realised what we wanted Henne to be, which was really great, because we just saw so many different brands coming through and so much product and overload of everything and we just felt that we wanted to bring it back to basics.

“We’re like ‘how cool would it be to actually make a brand that’s just based on basics?’, not wardrobe trends. You know, it’s about pieces that have longevity in your wardrobe, and pieces that we actually would wear to work, wear out to dinner and on the weekend.”

And despite it taking six years, that’s exactly what they did. Henne, which translates to ‘her’ in Swedish, is an elevated essentials label made with eco-conscious fabric for the contemporary woman.

We had the pleasure of seeing the brand spring to life at their runway show during fashion week, where diverse models of varying shapes and sizes flocked between the plush Shell House bar in vegan leather trench coats, signatures slouchy knit dresses, softly tailored suits and high shine fabrications that would make Victoria Beckham weak in the knees.

(Credit: Courtesy of Henne)

With the launch of their new aesthetically-pleasing boutique, Nadia is giving the Henne woman a permanent home. A place of rest and relaxation, indulgence and opulence all tucked away in two terraces.

“We did always have this goal that we wanted to launch our own store, instead of going out to different stockists and different partners because we just wanted the experience to feel that Henne, like I want customers to come into the store, and really feel like what we’re about,” she adds.

“It’s not your typical sort of retail store. 

“You know how stores are very, like pretty in whitewashed or industrial, like it was very much our vibe, and we wanted it to feel like a home. It’s a very small space, but it’s exactly what we wanted….a really intimate space that people feel very comfortable in.”

Over two store fronts—one for the brand’s retail presence, the other for events and one-on-one styling sessions with customers which Bartel hopes to launch soon—you will find the label’s quintessential ribbed fabrications mixed with architecturally intriguing surprises.

“It’s quite a special space, we’ve got this wicking material on the walls, a surprise blue staircase and a beautiful, minimal feel to it.”

And with Nadia’s fashionable and well connected friends in the style scene, you’d think she’d have plenty of advice about creating her own fashion label how to survive the cutthroat Melbourne industry.

But Nadia explains to us that the best advice she’s received is from her own experience—something that is more relevant now since her recent troubles with the tabloids.

“Everything happens for a reason, I think it’s given me sort of a way to always look forward and just knowing that this will pass… everything happens for a reason and might not see present itself yet but it will down the track,” Bartel tells us.

“There are times when you try to block out the noise from everyone and all the different opinions about you. But obviously, with me, there are a lot of opinions.

“There’s a lot of things that are said that are not true and sometimes I wanted to go out there and set it straight. And, you know, tell everyone what actually happened and what the truth is but you can’t, because in the end, you’re not going to please everyone, because people have those opinions of you.”

Sure, Nadia’s cause célèbre may have gotten her in hot water, but it’s no longer what’s defining her. As she’s proven, her next chapter is her most stylish one yet.

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