When Kym Ellery brings Down Under up to the international platform, she doesn't just cause a ripple — she makes waves. The brilliant founder and designer of her eponymous label Ellery, is now one of Australia's most respected designers worldwide and is only the third Australian designer —after Collette Dinnigan and Martin Grant — to show on-schedule at Paris Fashion Week.
You'd think a woman of such exceptional talent would have gone through the rigmarole at a fashion or design studio. But Ellery's story isn't quite as predictable or run-of-the-mill. She completed a one-year fashion certificate at TAFE in Perth, Western Australia before jetting to London for a summer to study fashion illustration at the prestigious Central Saint Martins. Ellery then worked as a market editor at Russh Magazine in Sydney, and following that, a freelance stylist before venturing into fashion design.
"Our designs are clean, textured, voluminous, tailored and architectural," says Ellery of her highly coveted pieces. "Our women are intelligent, appreciate quality and loves innovation." Her signature consists of bold silhouettes and an outstanding use of textiles in her dramatic slits, velvet bell sleeves or mermaid-cut ruffle edges. This insouciant attitude and sophisticated wearability has found Ellery legions of fans around the world, including celebrities like Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Miranda Kerr and Solange Knowles.
In an interview with Buro 24/7 Singapore, Ellery shares how the dream first started, her muses and inspirations, and her idea of style.
Eventually the brand outgrew its hobby status and became even more challenging to keep up...How did Ellery all begin? I have longed to be a designer for as long as I can remember. Unexpectedly, when I was in my early twenties, I was offered to join the fashion department at Russh Magazine. I took the job and quickly fell in love with the publishing industry. During my time there I learnt so much and as it turned out, it was the perfect place for me to understand both my aesthetic as well as the language of fashion.
After a period at the magazine, I decided it was time to return to my true love — design. It was then that I started the brand as a part-time hobby while still working at the magazine. Eventually the brand outgrew its hobby status and became even more challenging to keep up, so I decided to leave my work as a stylist to better focus on Ellery as a global brand.
What inspires you on a day-to-day basis? Art, film and music, for the most part. Architecture is also a constant inspiration to me. I love the idea of fabrics that have a memory so they hold a strong, bold silhouette.
Which designer do you respect most in the fashion industry? Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. I admire her greatly.
What's a day at work like for you? I start each day by meditating. It is important for me to walk into the hustle and bustle of our office with a clear mind. Following that there are usually a lot of meetings focusing on either the design of the collection, marketing or various other projects that the brand is working on at that time. No day is exactly the same and I am never bored when at work — that's for sure!
What does showing at Paris Fashion Week mean to you? How did it feel when it happened for the first time? It is a huge honour to be showing on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar and since bringing the collection to Paris, we have experienced huge growth. It is a really exciting time for Ellery as a brand. When we were invited for the first time, I was extremely excited and felt really ready for the challenges ahead.
What's your favourite look this season from Ellery and why? My favourite look from the Fall 2016 collection is the very last look. It's a navy lurex velvet dress with tie and drawstring details. I love the way it moves when you walk and also how it shimmers gently in the light.
What's your personal style like? I would describe my style as quite classic and simple, sometimes with a Japanese-esque twist. I absolutely love wearing tailored pieces and shoes that are visually heavy so as to really anchor my silhouette.
Do you think the definition of what's fashionable has changed with the proliferation of social media? Definitely. Fashion is evolving at a very fast pace right now. It is both interesting and scary at the same time.
The sky seems to be the limit for Ellery. What can we expect next? 2016 is going to be a year of great progress. I look forward to pushing my personal boundaries and taking Ellery further in the future.