I would like to explore the similarities between fairy tales and what I do. I’ve been labeled a fashion designer even though I try and stay far, far away from “fashion”. I am a creator of clothing. I studied with freaks and poppies and worked as a minimum wage retail slave. The start of my happily ever after began when I was mentored by an amazing creative with a strong academic interest. She nurtured my love for sculpting and diverted it from clay to pattern making.
While working in a factory that produced high end, ready to wear clothing, I started my own journey. With a bottle of red we christened it SIES!isabelle. Initially it was slow going; trying to find a path leading deeper into the woods, and I passed the “don’t quit your day job” marker a good couple of times.
After four years of skirting the perimeter I dove in and launched my collection at SA fashion week, a year later I quit my day job and I haven’t looked back once. It’s been a rollercoaster ride ranging from huge orders to begging for breadcrumbs.
Currently I supply over 30 stores nationwide and internationally (if you count Namibia), own a small studio/factory and produce around 120 units of clothing each week. I employ 5 fulltime staff members and provide part time work for another 10. SIES!isabelle is a regular on the SA fashion week circuit and is starting to get noticed by the glossy media and general public.
At the moment I’m busy with the dregs of winter; sales and markdowns. I’m launching my summer collection next week. And I’ve started designing for Winter 2014; which brings me to the original topic; exploring the similarities between how I design and fairytales.
My inspiration became real when I found this quote by Angela Carter. “Ours is a highly individualized culture, with great faith in the work of art as a unique one-off, and the artist as an original, a godlike and inspired creator of unique one-offs. But fairy tales are not like that, nor are their makers.”
The basic concept that I found appealing, other than wishing to create clothing that is magic and fantastical, is that I’m not creating “unique one-offs”. Everything in wearable fashion has been done at some point. What fashion designers essentially do is tell the story in a new way. As Roger Zelanzy said:
“Editors believe they are buying the stories, but they are not. They are buying the way the story is told”