Building her fashion design skills at Queensland College of Art in the heyday of Brisbane’s contemporary fashion industry, then being recognised as one of Australia's top fashion designer’s (RNA Fashion Awards), Deborah moved to New York in the late eighties to hone her knowledge and experience of the global fashion industry first hand. After completing a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts in Fashion Merchandising and Management and then continuing to earn an Honours Degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Deborah was employed as Fashion Director for an International resident buying office. This led to working at Liz Claiborne, one of the largest fashion houses in North America.
Later, Deborah became Director of Product Development for ES Sutton, creating private label collections for major USA retailers including Bloomingdale's and Macy’s. This role meant Deborah was constantly travelling the US, Europe and Asia, ensuring cutting edge designs and textile development, produced in an internationally connected supply chain. Along with fashion forecasting and designing seasonal collections produced off-shore, Deborah also freelanced as a stylist in the entertainment industry for film and photography.
Returning home to Australia, Deborah’s career now focuses on educating the next generation of fashion designers. Deborah’s approach to education focuses on developing a Design Mindset through innovative education, industry/student engagement and practical experiential opportunities for authentic learning. This approach to curriculum development and applied activities develops critical thinking attributes and innovative creative solutions to the design challenges for the future. Deborah remains very committed to mentoring and supporting early graduates, as a way of paying forward the extraordinary opportunities she was given as a young designer in New York. Her research interests encompass fashion and identity, women’s relationships with clothing through material culture, personal branding and design thinking.