From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?
Ooh we have a belter this week readers. None other than Elisalex from Stitch Me Softly has kindly agreed to let us ogle her closet. Elisalex might well be described as a bit of a style maven in fact. She’s not only previously enjoyed a career as a shoe designer, she’s also one half of By Hand London – a brand new indie pattern company. Check out their first collection, due to be released very soon. And in the meantime – let’s find out more about Elisalex’s very unique style…
To me, you’re part bohemian mum, part avant garde designer, part garden fairy Elisalex! But how would you sum up your style?
I love your description and I think that’s definitely how I would like my style to come across! In reality, I find it very hard to strike a balance between ridiculously overdressed and just-rolled-out-of-bed casual. During the day when I’m in the studio or running around with my boy, you will most likely find me in jeans or PJ-like attire; but when I go out – even if it’s just for a quick drink with a girlfriend – nothing less than a cocktail dress! I think of my style I guess as classic with a twist: I love 50s and early 60s silhouettes that emphasise the female form – cinched waists, full skirts, high heels. With that classic silhouette as my starting point, I love clashing colours and mismatching prints or showing off a little midriff in a kiddy t-shirt worn with a super smart high-waisted skirt.
Kung Fu wiggle skirt
Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?
Inspiration comes from infinite sources – mainly sewing and style blogs, trips to fabric shops always leave me massively inspired and planning all the things I want to make and I definitely spend way too much time browsing vintage pattern websites! I don’t read fashion magazines at all as I don’t like to be too influenced by passing trends and I find that instead of being inspired, I’m always left with that horrible desire to shop and consume, which is something I’ve really tried to stay away from.
Part of the problem with being so drawn to dramatic silhouettes and delicious, often expensive, fabrics is that my me-made wardrobe is firmly rooted in “too much frosting, not enough cake” territory. I’m now really trying to translate my love of colour, print and texture into pieces I can wear on an everyday basis, which will also hopefully bring my everyday, run-around style out of jeans and PJs at the same time.
Who are your style icons and why?
I’d have to say first and foremost, my Mum – Orsola de Castro who is not only the designer and founder of From Somewhere, but also a pioneer of sustainable fashion.
Orsola – Elisalex’s mum
Other women/characters who’s style I love are Carrie Season 2 – it slightly pains me to admit that but it’s true! Daisy Lowe – such a beauty, and so versatile and grounded in her style. Scarlett O’Hara – because, well, just because she’s amazing. Kind of loathsome, but completely fabulous!
Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?
I’m not nearly as on the pulse with designers as I used to be, or maybe should be… but ones that come to mind are: Lu Flux, From Somewhere (my ma!), Miu Miu & Prada rarely disappoint, same goes for Erdem, I’m still dreaming about Temperley’s SS13 collection you recently posted about, and for shoes I’m currently salivating over Sophia Webster‘s tropical bliss collection for SS13!
If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style – what would it be and why?
Having just launched a new indie pattern company – By Hand London - my partner Charlotte and I wanted to design and base each of our patterns on women who’s style we wanted to capture. So we started with ourselves! The Elisalex dress is, for me, the epitome of elegance: it has a snug, princess seamed bodice with a sexy scoop back, super cinched waist and a beautiful tulip skirt with big box pleats. I can’t even begin to tell you how many versions of this pattern I’ve made – definitely in the double figures by now – and I still have fabric stashed for future Elisalex dresses!
The Elisalex Dress
Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?
Within the brackets of my personal style, I guess my outfits have veered towards the avant guard, namely that sheer skirt…! I don’t really take big risks however, and dyeing my hair pink/lavender is about as risky as I get.
Star print tulle skirt
Is there anything you wish you could wear but can’t?
Haha yes plenty!! I wish I could get away with that edgy layered I-just-piled-on-every-chic-thing-I-own look… but to be honest, I’m so aware of my shape, what suits me and what I feel best in that I tend to just stick to that!
What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?
Way too many ideas come to mind… Can I change the question to “what would be your dream wardrobe?”??? Why, that’s easy! Everything I’ve pinned!
What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?
There are so many wonderful and inspirational women out there and I just know I’m going to end up leaving some out… At the moment I am mostly reading Closet Case Files, Yes I Like That, Dixie DIY, Gertie (obviously!), Lladybird, Ginger Makes, SallieOh, A Stitching Odyssey, Reana Louise and of course, Stitch and Witter!
Joanne, thank you SO much for inviting me to take part in this series, I’ve loved reading all your interviews so far and can’t wait for more!
Thanks so much for being a part of it Elisalex. Good luck to you and Charlotte with By Hand London – can’t wait to see those patterns taking the blogging world by storm!