In Conversation with Emily Nolan

We visited Emily Nolan, founder of Melbourne-born women’s tailoring label E Nolan and enthusiastic Leonard Joel collector, and asked her to share what style, collecting and inspiration means to her.

Emily Nolan, shot by Annie Carroll


Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your label, E Nolan?

E Nolan started as a way for me to challenge the tired, restrictive, and often robotic ways we’ve been taught to think about getting dressed. I want to challenge the standardised way in which we build our wardrobes for both work and life with a new model that embraces individuality and authentic self-expression.

I am striving to offer a new standard for women’s tailoring in Australia as well as a new, more intimate, more personal way of relating to the things we wear – sartorial mementos. We operate on an appointment-only basis, which allows for a luxurious one-to-one service that acts as a vehicle for my clients to creatively build a wardrobe.

What led you to discover Leonard Joel? 

I discovered Leonard Joel when I started to dream/research about how to best furnish the E Nolan Dressing Room. The Dressing Room is a renovated 20ft shipping container covered in jasmine amongst a garden in Hawthorn East. I wanted the space to exude personality, like you’ve stumbled upon it in a wonderland. It is my brain’s Aladdin’s Cave, and it has brought me great joy searching for pieces that will work within the space. It’s not a huge space so I have found hanging artwork a very important part of dressing it. It’s like setting a table; there must be pieces with intent, a chair to sit back in, a table surface to host cloth, and vintage tea set to encourage comfortable conversation.

How would you describe your personal style?

Day-to-day life is uncertain at the best of times. I like garments I can reach for that will stabilise my restless nature. I like to dress feeling ‘thrown together’ rather than ‘put’ together; a bit of this, a bit of that. Curating a wardrobe is like collecting for your home. I marry vintage finds with my suiting and sneakers.

What inspires you, both personally and professionally? 

I am inspired by different people’s perspectives.
I love to read and to drift through others words and consciousness. I find there isn’t too much of a distinction between what inspires me professionally and personally – the two are inextricably intertwined. I am inspired by storytelling, kindness, and a sense of hope. I don’t think you can be creative without a grand sense of curiosity.

Do you have a personal favourite acquisition from Leonard Joel?

My favourite piece I have ever bought from Leonard Joel is a collection of white sapphires that were set in a tennis bracelet. I took them to Bella Clark Jewellery and she reset the stones into eternity rings. Bella marries the fine art of handmade jewellery and often works to recontextualise antiques, and I wear these rings every day.

Is there anything you’ve currently got an eye out for, that you would like to add to your collection? 

Right now, I am on the lookout for a rug to bring warmth to the E Nolan space and to better section off the area between consulting and fitting. I am also perennially searching for artworks and vintage magazines to frame.

Do you have any advice for new collectors on finding their “signature” style? 

I think it helps to consider what brings you pleasure and making that your foundation. This can and will help you articulate your aesthetic ideals and your ‘style’. I think it starts with an appreciation of your five senses but most importantly how you feel in a garment with your eyes closed. Clothing is our most intimate form of art. For me, style is in the day to day, the garments that you really live in and feel safe in. I always ask my clients what their favourite item of clothing is – sometimes this could be a bed t-shirt, or the memory of a garment passed from their mother. Style is also about reducing the fear of ‘getting it wrong’, play with your clothing that same way you do rearranging a room until it feels functional and ‘you’.

Visit to find out more, and follow Emily on Instagram at @enolanmelbourne

March 2021