With her emphasis on sustainable practices and short supply chains, and dedication to bringing a theatrical twist to everyday wear, designer Isabelle Hellyer is definitely our kinda person.
Isabelle crafts one-of-a-kind garments for her non-seasonal label, all is a gentle spring, that are inspired by a mish mash of different time periods—from 18th-century bustiers to 80s bodybuilders. Anyone who grew up pinching their mum’s aerobics workout videos will be tickled to know that the leotard-clad, bouffant-haired aerobics instructors of our collective past are providing her with huge inspo for her new collection, Wishing Well.
We asked the true talent to share some #BTS snaps from her Wishing Well collection shoot, before sending off a rapid-fire round of questions. Take it away, Isabelle!
Can you give us the Isabelle elevator pitch?
I’m the founder and designer of all is a gentle spring, a label concerned with history, fantasy and costume.
How would you describe all is a gentle spring in a sentence?
all is a gentle spring brings theatrical flair to everyday street dress.
What are your main ethos?
I like the idea of paring back historic costumes, only slightly, to make them part of an everyday wardrobe. I’m refashioning the past for today. I’m interested in short supply chains: I source, print and manufacture here in Australia—mostly in Melbourne, where I lived when I started the project, but in Queensland and Western Australia too. I like to know my suppliers and my manufacturers. Image-making is also really central to the project. Photographing the garments is about my community, my friends. I think in Australia, where the fashion industry is so much smaller than Europe or the US, you have to make your own fun.
What is your creative process like?
I tend to look at a couple of specific periods—say the 1980s and the 1880s—and see how they can be collaged together. Working on this collection, I was really interested in Los Angeles Storybook architecture, particularly an art director called Harry Oliver. I was watching a lot of Aerobic tapes too. I knew I wanted to do a lot of leotards this season. There was also a brilliant Cindy Crawford workout tape called Shape Your Body directed by Tom Care, who mainly did music videos for acts like Depeche Mode and R.E.M. That was an influence. And I always look at the fashions of 18th century European Courts. The bustiers in this collection were based on the idea of a Robe à L’Anglaise chopped in half.
Any advice to young designers hoping to start their own label?
Be prepared to do more than design. Make sure you’re happy, or at least comfortable, with spreadsheets, emails, sourcing, packing, marketing, and so. Starting your own label means taking on these jobs—at least for the first little while.
Do you have a particular person in mind when designing?
No-one in particular, but I love seeing how Lexi Kingery styles our clothes. She surprises me. Very clever. My sister, my best friend and I all have a pretty different dress sense, but we all look good, most of the time. If I feel there’s something in the collection for all three of us, I’ve done well.
If all is a gentle spring was…
A colour: This season, brown.
A mood: Joyful. It’s gotta be.
A place: Home.
A song: Anna Domino, ‘Land Of My Dreams’
A food: Picturing a tiered lemon poppyseed cake with a passion fruit compote inside. We’ll ice with an Italian meringue buttercream and top with candied citrus peels.
A YouTube video: