He’s dressed worldwide celebrities, has a roaring bridal trade and has just launched a new phase of his business – but Steven Khalil still doesn’t feel like he’s made it.
The fashion designer, who grew up in Leumeah, is constantly setting himself new goals.
His current goals?
Successfully launching his next collection and making his brand more accessible for everyone.
Khalil’s love of fashion began as a child.
“I must have been six or seven and I was watching the royal wedding of Diana and Charles,” he said.
“I just fell in love with her dress and I knew that I wanted to make dresses like that.
“I was never interested in making pants or blouses, it was always going to be grand, intricate and extravagant gowns.”
Khalil was inspired by the likes of Chanel, Dior and Valentino and regularly watched period films to get ideas.
He perused fashion design books in local libraries and studied textiles and design at school.
But there weren’t many avenues for him to chase his dream in Macarthur.
“I loved growing up in Campbelltown, it is a fantastic place and I still come out here regularly to visit my family,” he said.
“But there wasn’t much for me in the way of fashion, so I studied at college and took courses in the city.
“Anybody who wants to pursue fashion from Macarthur shouldn’t feel limited by their area or feel like they have less opportunity – they just need to work hard and go after what they want.
“There are lots of opportunities out there and if a fashion designer is what you decide to be, do the work and you will be successful.”
Khalil has done the work and is now reaping the rewards.
He started with a small apprenticeship and built his way up to his own label, with a store in Paddington and a showroom in Los Angeles.
His gowns have been worn by some of the most famous people in Australia and the world.
“[Kardashian clan member] Kylie Jenner was a big one,” he said.
“The Kardashians are very influential and we got a lot of exposure from that.
“Then there’s some of Australia’s biggest stars, like [fellow Campbelltown product] Kate Ritchie and Sonia Kruger.”
There’s one big star at the moment that Khalil would love to see wearing one of his gowns.
“Margot Robbie is big right now,” he said.
“She’s the hip, Hollywood girl and she’s from here in Australia.
“With the Oscars coming up and her nomination, it would be awesome if she could wear one of my designs.”
A Steven Khalil gown was recently seen on the Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet, worn by E! reporter Giuliana Rancic.
Outside the glamour of celebrity gowns, Khalil’s bread and butter is bridal wear.
He said a large chunk of his recent clientele have come from Macarthur.
“We’re getting a lot of brides from Camden and Narellan,” he said.
“It’s very rewarding being able to give a bride her dress.
“It’s such a big decision, and that dress is going to be shown to her children and her grandchildren – it becomes part of their story.”
Khalil’s new jewellery line, christening gowns and fragrance – available from the e-boutique on his website – is designed for people who perhaps can’t afford his gowns, but still want a piece of the brand.