Home » A plush partnership between Yu Mei and it label Beare Park makes its debut

A plush partnership between Yu Mei and it label Beare Park makes its debut

The Wellington luxury handbag brand made a welcome addition to the styling for former financier turned fashion designer Gabriella Pereira’s discreet collection of clothes. Yu Mei designer Jessie Wong talks to Dan Ahwa about the stylish partnership.

A transtasman union made a convincing case for local, understated luxury at

Fashion label Beare Park, founded by former financier Gabriella Pereira, enlisted the support of Wellington leather accessories brand Yu Mei, founded by Jessie Wong.

The partnership was a complementary lesson in contemporary luxury, with both designers showcasing an appreciation for quality materials and clothes that have a timeless appeal. The results? The charming Yu Mei Bobby bag and an oversized Leonardo tote crafted from rich suede colourways of brown, ivory and deep umber. The addition of the Yu Mei icon, the Tom Tote rounded off the bag collection, this time in charcoal.

Tucked under models’ arms like faithful companions, the textural accessories were an easy addition to Gabriella’s collection of grown-up textures, from leather trench coats to cosy knits paired with sheer silks.

Beare Park’s founder Gabriella Pereira taking a bow at Australian Fashion Week this week. Photo / Indigital.TV

Launched in 2021, Gabriella’s brand’s entry into the Australian fashion industry has been unconventional. With no formal fashion training, she’s one of a handful of designers challenging the status quo by focusing on an entire production chain based in Australia.

The brand is a major supporter of local craft and pattern makers, with the majority of its master tailors based just a short drive from the brand’s studio in Redfern.

Gabriella’s growing appeal also landed her the honour of creating the off-field uniforms for Australia’s national women’s football team, the Matildas. Adept at harnessing the value of creative collaboration, she has also partnered with Australian fine jewellers Paspaley Pearls for the brand’s new resort 2025 collection.

Styled by Niccia Wippell, the collection featured a range of delicate silk dresses worn over denim jeans, sheer skirts matched with soft knitwear, a full pinstripe coat dress, structured silk cocktail dresses and a standout velvet gown for the finale of a quietly elegant show.

Jessie Wong. Photo / Babiche Martens
Jessie Wong. Photo / Babiche Martens

These are garments that offer a sense of timeless modernity, the perfect complement, then, to Jessie’s own commitment to leather accessories made with a sharp eye on quality; special pieces that can be worn all day, every day.

The partnership is a reminder that it is possible for Australian and New Zealand designers to work closer together and what this could look like in helping shape their respective futures.

Jessie shares what that process was like from conception to the final bags on the runway.

Photo / Ellie Coker.
Photo / Ellie Coker.

How did this collaboration come about?

I met Gabriella in 2022 while we were there for Paris Fashion Week sales in June. We met through our shared showroom and because it was both of our first few seasons doing international sales, we found solace navigating that experience together — among many adventures!

One evening, after too many martinis at Hotel Costes, and spying a bit too much on Leonardo DiCaprio at the next table (I have photo proof), we climbed the Eiffel Tower at almost midnight and it was hilarious fun. Last year we were on the phone and I asked Bella if she wanted to collaborate during Fashion Week — it was an immediate yes.

This quickly escalated into designing a special Yu Mei resort collection to complement the Beare Park collection, made up of unique silhouettes in rich suede.

What was it like working together?

It’s been a truly fun experience to approach collaborating with a designer on such a special moment like their show.

When designing the Yu Mei pieces that would complement Gabriella’s collection, I brought together so many creative references and notes, many informed by our travels on materiality and colour. It was essential to get aligned on colour from the outset. Tanning and crafting leather is a lengthy one, so collections have had the time and space to inform each other.

Photo / Indigital.TV
Photo / Indigital.TV

When considering designing a bag to complement a collection, how different is this compared to designing your own range?

It was a brilliant opportunity to venture outside of the strict design parameters we’ve set for ourselves at Yu Mei over the years.

There were quite a few half-done pieces that had never really found their final resolution from our past collections and I used some of these shapes as a base for what we’ve designed for the Beare Park show. Because Yu Mei designs live on a pillar of utility, I always start with what you will carry in a day, and as a result, I have never had the opportunity to explore some shapes. Coming at the range with a fashion-led approach unlocked some of these spaces, and in turn, we’ve developed some pieces that I think will be coveted (and useful!) for our community.

I also had to consider what might be striking on the runway. Scale and proportion have played into some extra special pieces like the larger-than-life Leonardo Tote bag, something we haven’t done since our 2018 show at New Zealand Fashion Week.

Photo / Ellie Coker.
Photo / Ellie Coker.

Can you tell us about the materials used for these bags?

For the show pieces, we went with our coveted suede, one that has been featured in our ranges over the past couple of seasons. It complements some of the beautiful wool in Gabriella’s collection.

Beare Park follows a similar ethos to Yu Mei in that collections are a continuation of the same story from season to season, not a rewrite of the book. Tailoring is a mainstay in both of our personal wardrobes and has also been a source of inspiration for me recently. I’ve been fascinated by the techniques on Savile Row and have reworked a lot of familiar fastenings into leather pieces.

The immense amount of work put into the craftsmanship of these pieces is something that I’m particularly proud of. The drape of the large Leonardo Tote took me reviving all of my drape pattern-making skills from the back of my design school memory. The raw edges on the tote also required real precision at the cutting stage to give a luxurious finish, and the hand tacks throughout the belts and pieces add a lovely hand-finished touch.

What do you admire about Gabriella as a fellow businesswoman in fashion, and as a creative?

I admire her dogged determination to work hard and create something of substance while not missing the fun moments and sparkle of the journey — I think this is something we share, and is a fantastic quality in a collaboration partner.

Available from October, the Yu Mei resort collection is made up of 12 pieces consisting of the Gabriella bag, the Bobby bag, and the Leonardo tote.

Dan Ahwa is Viva’s fashion and creative director and a senior premium lifestyle journalist for the New Zealand Herald, specialising in fashion, luxury, arts and culture. He is also an award-winning stylist with over 17 years of experience, and is a co-author and co-curator of The New Zealand Fashion Museum’s Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now.

More fashion

We don’t just like accessories at Viva … we LOVE them.

Unlock this article and all our Viva Premium content by subscribing to