The feeling when you discover a collection, and therefore a label, that you're completely smitten with is pretty special. On the discovery of Hellen van Rees' #SS15 collection, CUT THE SHADES, it was all I could do not to forget the rent and splash the cash on every piece I could from the new line. Flaunting effortlessly chic lines, structured silhouettes, luxurious fringing, a glorious ombre palette and glittering black separates, this is a collection born to be worked in your new season wardrobe. I caught up with the designer herself to talk further about the new line and the label itself...
Find the collection HERE.
Was it always about designing clothes for you? Did you know you wanted to design from a young age?
‘Not really, I was always creative; making things, drawing, so I knew I wanted to study something in art or design. The decision to study fashion came much later, when I was visiting different colleges. I liked the combination of drawing, working with all sorts of materials, and the technical aspect. My interest in fashion itself came while I was studying it, getting to know the history, the different brands…’
How did you set about establishing your brand in such a competitive industry?
‘My advantage is that I have my own textiles/techniques, so that way my work stands out. At the same time it’s difficult because it is competitive, and a difficult time on top of that. My garments are quite labour intense, so the prices are relatively high for a new brand - that makes it a risk for a store to invest in. So, I thought practically and also created a more accessible, smaller second line, which is simply called Hellen van Rees WEAR. So that way I got the first few stockists, since then it’s just grown. Though it’s still small and with having to present and invest into a new collection each season, I have to stay as flexible as possible.’
What three bits of advice would you give to budding designers out there?
‘Find a unique aspect in your work and build on that. At the same time, go out there, present your own work and talk to people, feedback can be very helpful to get to the right direction, be it pricing, the presentation, material, finish…’
I absolutely adore your SS15 collection, Cut The Shades – what inspired the graphic shapes, fringing and ombre colour effect?
‘Thanks! The collection is loosely inspired by the intricate drapings of Madame Grès. Another element the garments are inspired by is a study of light cast from different angles through symmetrical cuts in paper and the shadow effects created as a result of this game of light/shadow (I took a series of photos of that effect a while back). All these different inputs will be evident in the use of layering, the play with transparency and the different textures in the garments.’
I read you’re inspired by classic Chanel tweeds, how do you fuse this inspiration into your own work?
‘I’ve looked at the way they’ve constructed their fabrics out of a huge variety of yarns. That inspired me to create textiles with different yarns that I collected. Since I did not have a loom and wanted to try some things quick, I thought to heat fuse them - that opened up more possibilities also in terms of the construction and finish. So, it’s become my own interpretation of the tweeds, that I further and further develop in new collections, as there’s endless options for heat fusing.’
What's really grabbing you for the new season (SS15) trend-wise? Fabric - wise? Shape-wise?
‘I really like the new focus on crafts/textures and fabric manipulation that is clear throughout the shows.’
Lady Gaga has been spotted in your designs (AMAZING by the way), which other celebrity or style icon would you love to see working your looks?
‘The dutch Queen Maxima!’
The latest collaboration between Alexander Wang x H&M has just launched, if you could collaborate with a high-street brand – who would it be?
‘I’ve worked with Hessnatur for AW14, they’re an eco-high street brand that is quite big in Germany. I did a small part of their AW14 collection. I really liked that collaboration because they are a sustainable/ethical brand which is important to me. I’d like a similar collaboration, but with more pieces - possible home-products as well - so I can give it some more outspoken identity.’
What are your designs for the brand for the future?
‘My own brand? That you’ll have to wait and see….’
What's your own personal style like?
‘No fuss, I like to be practical, I’m working in the studio most times anyway. Jeans/jumper or leggings and an oversized dress, casual.’
And, finally....if your wardrobe was burning down, and you only had ten seconds to decide which three items you saved - what would they be?
‘Nothing particular, I don’t care so much about my own wardrobe. I’d save my laptop and as much of the collection as I can carry.’
All images are sourced from Hellen van Rees