Horsham's Audene's Boutique celebrates 80 years in a changing world

CELEBRATION: Audene’s owner Dianne Schwarz and Stephanie Latimer celebrate the Horsham business’s 80th anniversary. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

CELEBRATION: Audene’s owner Dianne Schwarz and Stephanie Latimer celebrate the Horsham business’s 80th anniversary. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

AUDENE’S Boutique owner Dianne Schwarz admits it is difficult to sum up her experience of the fashion industry in a few words.

She has been involved with the Horsham business for more than 50 years.

But her family connection extends back 80 years, when her grandparents took on the business.

Audene’s celebrated its 80th anniversary with the help of Canadian fashion label Joseph Ribkoff.

Mrs Schwarz said the label’s Australian manager and marketing manager joined a client night at the boutique.

“We had champagne and nibbles and people tried on fashion items,’’ she said.

She said the Joseph Ribkoff managers were surprised at the business’s longevity.

“It’s hard to find fashion boutiques that have lasted 50 years, let alone 80,’’ she said.

“Women have become more confident to have their own style.

“You can look at yourself as a blank canvas in the morning.’’

Evolution

The secret to the store’s success has evolved along with fashion itself.

Mrs Schwarz has enjoyed watching fashion and style become more available for individuals.

“Women are much more free to express themselves,’’ she said.

“They go out to work – they are not dependent on a man buying them clothes.

“Women have become more confident to have their own style.

“You can look at yourself as a blank canvas in the morning.’’

Mrs Schwarz described modern customers as independent.

“Women have become more confident to have their own style. You can look at yourself as a blank canvas in the morning.’’ - Dianne Schwarz

She said when she first started it was not uncommon to spend two hours serving a customer.

“Now they like to look themselves,’’ she said.

“There is so much variety. The whole world’s out there for everyone – you just have to open the internet.’’

Mrs Schwarz said respect for a client’s style and opinion had ensured a loyal customer base despite the changes.

Regular clients include people from Adelaide, Melbourne, Warrnambool, Bordertown and Naracoorte.

Mrs Schwarz also credits years of family experience, honesty, integrity and faith in God for Audene’s longevity.

Change

The business’s stock has changed dramatically over the years.

Audene’s once stocked a full floor of ballgowns. Wedding dresses also used to feature.

Mrs Schwarz said the creation of specialist wedding shops had meant boutiques had become specialist stores in their own right.

“It’s always exciting to go to Melbourne and choose clothes for 12 months ahead. As a business we are always looking ahead,’’ she said.

“The thing about buying fashion now is there’s such a huge variety to choose from. What I have in the boutique is my choice from all that’s available.

“There are things that I see and think ‘that’s not right for Horsham’.’’

She expects to see the fashions in Audene’s continue to evolve over the next 80 years.

“Nothing’s the same as it was 50 years ago,’’ she said.

“Everything changes in fashion – the way it’s manufactured, the way it’s designed, the way fabrics are used.

“The textures are different, and the colours.

“What we wear now is not what our grandparents would have worn. You don’t wear matching gloves and dress. You wear everything in juxtaposition.’’

A change of hands is also inevitable in the boutique’s future.

“I’m just waiting for the right person to look and take the business over,’’ Mrs Schwarz said.

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