As a niche brand owner, I am across all aspects of the business but first and foremost I am the designer each and every bag, wallet, purse or accessory bearing the Elyse & i name. Aside from some technical courses and being naturally pretty ‘arty’, I have no formal training in fashion (read more about our brand ) so rely on my instincts to drive the designs. As a creative, your mind constantly whirrs with ideas and possibilities - I heard Elizabeth Gilbert say in a radio interview recently, “Creativity is an engine within you, waiting to be revved.” How true. The trick is to be able to turn a seed of an idea into something wonderful that people will hanker to wear - it doesn’t always work, but when you see the delight of someone who loves your creation, it is unspeakably rewarding.
Each designer will have their own methodology - mine is to create a bank of ideas, some I will commit to a sketch, other inspirations might be torn from a magazine, downloaded from the internet, found at a flea market and other great ideas that come to you in a dream you forget, which is eternally frustrating! Inspiration is found everywhere - from an era in history, a genre of art, a film, a style of architecture, a colourful record sleeve, a patterned tiled floor or a stitched pattern on an embroidered shirt or the piping of a vintage bag.
Each new season flows from the previous one - whether that’s reinventing our signature styles in new materials and colours, progressing a pattern or motif onto a new silhouette, to creating a whole new chapter of designs. It is an evolution that gives the brand a cohesive heritage and why the name ‘collection’ (dictionary definition:- something that is collected; a group of objects or an amount of material accumulated in one location, especially for some purpose or as a result of some process) seems so appropriate.
From sketch, paper pattern and model to first prototype
After sketching an initial idea, usually I will scan and tweak this on photoshop - where I can manipulate and play around with colour, swatches and sizing. Next stage - make a paper pattern. Cardboard, cutting matt, pencil, blade, sellotape in hand, I will first make a paper pattern then crudely sellotape it together - all the time adjusting, snipping, extending to create the perfect silhouette. This is really quite play school but with sharper implements. In reality, this process is of fundamental importance to avoid costly errors in sizing and construction issues. No first sample is ever perfect but the degrees of success can be tempered by good planning.
Next, it is time to select colours and leathers in full! Choices will stem from the initial mood board and focal points of how I want the season to pan out. Whether they are for Spring/Summer or Autumn/Winter will influence colour and material choices but I will always aim for a season-less look or ensure there is always a good balance between ’neutrals’ and ‘pops of colour'. As our customers span the globe, with varying climates, this approach seems to have a broader appeal.
Then it is time to write it all down clearer for the factory to decipher - exact sizing, length & size of straps, fastening, colour of stitching, placement of logos, zip lengths, hardware to be used, details of a specific embellishment will work. I mostly produce in Indonesia and am lucky that the team making our bags are masters of their crafts - they will help me to interpret a design and their skill is able to translate my imagination into something real.