Kym Ellery’s passion for art started when she was a child, absorbing all of her mother’s artistic abilities through dress making, ceramics and print making. From architectural silhouettes to artistic inspirations, since 2007 Kym Ellery’s namesake label ELLERY encourages self-expression with a decisive and avant-garde aesthetic. For any designer, showing your collection at Paris Fashion Week is a major feat. Today, Kym Ellery shows each season on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule and is a member of the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode. Based between Paris and Sydney, the brand’s core signature transcends trends and promotes timelessness, re-inventing classics with a decadent approach centred on masterful cuts and unexpected details. In our interview with our friend Kym Ellery, read about her clever insights into the potential of the Australian fashion scene and to create a creative point of difference in a highly competitive market.
What first inspired you to pursue a career in fashion?
When I was a small girl I spent a lot of time with my mother. She was and still is an artist and we spent many, many hours creating together. From drawing to print making, doing ceramics and of course, dress making, she encouraged me to think laterally and challenge the status quo.
What was your first job and was it in fashion?
My first work experience was in a bridal store in Perth. I had to sew the combs onto the bridal veils. It took time and was a precise art but I loved every minute of it. It was so satisfying to see all the veils lined up at the end of the work day.
What was your career path leading to your current position?
Before designing I worked at independent fashion publication, Russh magazine. I was part of the fashion team for four awesome years and it was here that I learnt the skills of styling and how to create a powerful image. It’s still one of my great loves.
Was fashion design always your dream career?
Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to work in fashion. My mother taught me how to sew when I was eight years of age and since then I’ve not looked back.
What was the most important thing you learnt while studying at the esteemed Central St Martins in London?
How to develop an idea into a collection. I also loved learning about anatomy, which we started with, to better understand how to clothe the body.
What motivated you to create the Ellery label?
I wanted the freedom to express myself creatively and that grew into a passion to make garments that made women feel and look good.
Describe your role within Ellery?
I am the director. I own and oversee the running of the business. I am also the head designer. I conceive the design direction for the collection and design each piece.
What has been your toughest learning experience since launching the Ellery label in 2007?
It is difficult being a creative and initially I did not understand the technical, legal or business obligations involved in running a business. I’ve certainly learnt a lot since I started but it wasn’t easy. I now know to hire experts in business and I rely on my team, which has really expanded in over 11 years, and their counsel.
As head of an Australian-based fashion label, what level of support does the home-grown fashion industry deserve?
I think that Australian fashion is exciting and world class in many aspects. Sometimes I think that it deserves more recognition than it is currently given.
How do you see the future of fashion in Australia?
It’s a bright future. I hope that it continues on the same upward trajectory. I think that Australians have the potential to be world leaders in both style and industry.
How important is it to have a point of difference?
I think what is more important is to have a point of view and then stay true to it. Let it evolve and above all, focus on quality.
Would you recommend fashion design as a career path for university graduates?
If you are passionate then I would always encourage those people to pursue a life in fashion. It is a tough industry and hard work is key.
What has been your greatest career achievement to date?
I wanted to create a luxury brand in Australia that would become internationally known, would show on schedule in Paris and be on the world stage. Showing my collection in Paris would have to be one of my greatest achievements. Ellery is also one of only three Australian designers invited by the Chambre Syndicale du Prét à Porter – French fashion’s governing body – to show on schedule during Paris Fashion Week.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years from now?
I hope to continue working on ready to wear collections and also couture. I also hope to be able to have other exciting projects in my life such as visual art and architecture; my other passions.
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