Stella McCartney

Tailor made: Behind the Scenes with Kym Ellery

For the second stop in our series “Reveal the Iconic You”, we visited Kym Ellery’s showroom in Paris; produced in collaboration with smart. Meet the Australian Designer in an interview

In order to explore the charm and possibilities of customization and iconic style, the next leg of my journey in the smart BRABUS tailor made program takes me to Paris – and to the next theme in this exciting, four-part series: “form”. The idea of form is central to a well-made garment, and of course that had me thinking about a designer whose shapes are instantly recognizable.

We arrive at Kym Ellery’s showroom the midst of show preparation, yet the Australian-born superwoman designer nevertheless appears ultra cool, calm, and collected. I found myself falling in love with her almost immediately – and so did my all-star team, which included Julia Zierer on camera, Catarina Teles on sound, and bosslady Julia Knolle in the director’s chair. You just want to be Kym’s best friend. She’s got all the skills: an infectious laugh, effortless coolness, and not mention answers to my many, many questions! She’s an endless pool of inspiration.

The good vibes start in her showroom, a classic Haussmann jewel flooded with boxes and boxes (and more boxes!) filled with samples from her SS17 collection. Everything has been produced in Sydney, Australia, where she founded her namesake label ten years ago. Despite the intense workload Kym and her team are facing prepping her show includes styling the collection and casting the models amongst its many tasks her excitement and enthusiasm makes it all look like a walk in the park. Or maybe in this case, “like a thrilling boxing session” is a more suitable description. You can really tell she is enjoying every single second, and it’s obvious she realised a lifelong dream in moving herself and her core team to Paris.

I have become a huge fan of her designs and enjoy wearing them a lot, and I’m in good company: celebrities, fashion editors, street style stars, bloggers, and buyers all seem to own a pair of her voluminous flared pants or one of her off-the-shoulder blouses. Maybe it’s because they always give you that “laid-back” feeling, like you’re attending a party where every song makes you want to dance right away. But definitely because they are extremely flattering and easy to wear that’s what’s made them bestsellers all over the world.

The form of Ellery designs is extremely recognisable. It was especially this fact – and that they are stunning in action when worn – that gave me endless inspiration for my very own mission: my magic carpet, aka my mini carriage, aka my smart BRABUS that’s not only going to be bringing me from A to B, but also look really cool.

Thank you Kym for opening your doors to hey woman!:

Moodboard Ellery

Veronika Heilbrunner: What does a typical “Kym day in Paris” look like?

Kym Ellery: I have been trying hard to exercise in the morning, taking a few boxing classes. But then I have a lot of emails and meetings. I am working with my design team, which is now based in Paris with me – that is really exciting. So we work together every day on concepts, research, sketching and things. I guess that’s a typical day.

It is a crazy schedule.

KE: Especially this season. With August being closed in Europe, it becomes this mad mental rush every year.

Is that super different in Australia, where they don’t close in August?

KE: Yeah, but I would like this too having August off and then shifting the timelines.

How much do you think about retail when designing?

KE: It is important. But I also think about what I personally like to wear, and also what my friends and people in our team want to wear. What I do is about giving women what they want to feel beautiful. But then you also have to think about the entire world, because we sell globally.

There are so many different types of women that you have to think about as well, therefore it’s important that a collection be inclusive and give everyone something. At least that’s what I aim to do. But to be honest – that’s challenging. It’s about creating this girl who is intelligent, but super cool and relaxed. That’s the ultimate thing. But within that, we want to make sure giving something to all the different women out there too.

I think you manage that very well. How has your customer base has shifted from “being an Australian brand” to “being a brand based in the fashion capital”?

KE: We have one flagship store in Sydney. But today our business is 92% global, and that means only 8% comes from Australia.

So where do most of the women that buy Ellery live?

KE: They’re quite evenly spread across Europe, America, and Asia. Germany is really growing for us. We love Germany! We get so much support there, especially from the press. We had the editor of German Vogue come in and say hello, which was really cool. And my stepmother is German, from Hamburg – that helps to like the country even more, as well.

Who do you think about when you’re designing? Obviously not about the Australian girl…

KE: No, not so much. But I find that the Australian girl who wears fashion is very European. Most people think of Australia as this country that is an island with big beaches, crocodiles, sharks, and other weird animals. But there is such a strong fashion community in Australia. And they all dress in a quite elevated, European way. However, the main market loves floral dresses and more of what would be considered typically Australian rather than European.

What’s your bestseller?

KE: That changes from season to season. But I must say, the flairs are a consistently strong seller, whether in a lighter fabric and with a softer and more summery silhouette, or more structured with really full flair. We often find that they’re in our top ten. We also have a lot of successful blazers, especially when they have interesting sleeves. So I’ve created a new silhouette for the spring season I’m particularly excited about.

Oh, wow! What is the new silhouette?

KE: You’ll have to wait and see it!

(And we do in the video!)

Can you tell me about the first dress you ever made?

KE: Oh, it actually wasn’t a dress. It was a vest and a skirt, a matching set. It was purple with white stripes going down it and buttons. I was 8 years old. My mum taught me how to sew when I was very young because I was already dying to learn.

And then you wore your first self-made piece yourself?

KE: Yeah, I must have. I think we have picture proof! My mom definitely kept it.

So you always wanted to be a designer, even from a very young age? And then you studied design, but changed sides to work for Russh Magazine in Sydney?

KE: Yeah, I was 18 or 19 when I moved to Sydney. I did a year of fashion college in my hometown of Perth, but then I moved to Sydney, and then I decided to move to London to go to summer school at Central Saint Martins. Before I left I was working as an intern at Russh Magazine, and just before I left to go to England the editor offered me a job. I thought it was a great opportunity to work in publishing and to get to know the industry, but I was very young. And I still obviously wanted to go to London to take this design course.

So I talked to the editor and she said: “Yeah, go do the course and come back and we’ll have the job waiting.” It was really cool to go and experience that, and it was a really interesting time for me – but then also to come back to Sydney and to this job at a independent, cool, new, and young magazine. I got to be part of a really small team where we got to do a lot of everything. That was so interesting for me. I did that for two years. But when I turned 23, I decided to change something. I thought it was a good time for me to start my own project on the side of my job at Russh, and so Ellery was born.

I started making small collections and was working out of my living room. I would go to events after work. That was my role. And then I would go home and sit on my couch, make patterns and cut out samples. It was a really full on a few years, because I was doing two jobs at once. But after four years at Russh, I decided it was time to leave and focus on Ellery – and here we are today! We’re just getting bigger and bigger. At the point when I left Russh, I had my first employee. Now we are a team of about 40 between Sydney and France. And we’re starting to set up even more. It’s very cool.

Now a little bit personal stuff. How do you get dressed in the morning? What do you decide on first?

KE: I am guilty of wearing pretty much the same thing – I might have four or five outfits that I just keep moving through on rotation. To be honest, it’s the last thing on my mind when I get up. I am just so eager to get to work creating all those beautiful pieces!

So your wardrobe isn’t that big?

KE: I mean, it is pretty big. When I say rotating looks, I mean like black pants with a black blouse and a cashmere sweater – but then I have 20 different versions of them. I just move through them.

What percent of your closet is made up of Ellery pieces?

KE: 92%

Please finish these sentence for me: I cannot live without…

KE: …music.

The song that gets you going…

KE: …is my Spotify playlist called “Hi, babes”. It always helps me get up in the morning.

Before I close my eyes I think about…

KE: …the ocean

For me, tailor made means…

KE: …quality and passion, joined together in one product.

If we meet again in ten years, where will you be?

KE: Hopefully here, right here. In Paris. And hopefully with the same business, but even bigger with an amazing team. That’s what I am working towards.

And last but not least, here’s that Spotify playlist called “Hi, Babes” that Kym was talking about:

THE END #womanwelove

 

Thank you Kym Ellery for the excellent cooperation.

 

PHOTOS & VIDEO: JULIA ZIERER
REPORTER/ PRODUCTION MANAGER: VERONIKA HEILBRUNNER
PRODUCTION MANAGER: JULIA KNOLLE
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: CATARINA MARQUES TELES
TRANSLATION: MELISSA FROST

Born and raised in Munich/Germany, Veronika’s professional career has developed from being a model to a fashion editor, to online luxury retailing and most recently style editor of Harpers Bazaar Germany. She currently lives in Berlin where in the beginning of 2015 she started a company with Julia Knolle, the ex-editor at large of Vogue Digital.
Oh, and she loves pugs!