Designer spotlight: Isabel de Villiers

While browsing through Spree a few weeks ago, I discovered a local designer called Isabel de Villiers. Upon further investigation, I discovered that Isabel is a Cape Town-based, curvy-girl enthusiast.

In other words, someone I simply had to meet. After a few tweets, spurred on by the discovery of this lust-worthy winter jacket, I arranged a studio visit for when she was back from SA Fashion Week in Joburg. However, it seemed we were meant to meet a little earlier, when I bumped into her at the Spree Autumn / Winter look book launch (more on that a little later).

While you can browse her entire range here, her Winter 2015 collection is inspired by the human body. A little deeper than simply the curves and dimensions, Isabel drew inspiration from two friends – one who was in hospital, and one who was pregnant. This can be seen in two of her designs – ‘ultrasound’ and ‘x-ray’ – used in her scuba prints.

Now, onto scuba. This was a rather large topic of conversation when we met, as it is a fabric I’ve always avoided. Seeing it as very clingy, I just didn’t seem like the right girl for the job. However, Isabel can’t stop singing it’s praises : instead of cling, it ‘sucks’ you in – no lumps or bumps (and I’m sure the clever print helps disguise this too). While I wasn’t quite brave enough to try it on on the day, she has planted the seed. Perhaps one of these skirts will see their way into my cupboard soon.

It was fantastic visiting her in studio – often I see clothes on the rail and simply forget (or just don’t realise) the process that went into getting them there. Isabel was kind enough to take me through her process – from patterns and mock-ups, to first versions with notes and stitching instructions, all the way through to the final product and how they are sized. By ‘sized’, please read into this in the most generous terms possible – while Isabel is passionate about dressing curves, she caters for sizes 32 – 46.  It is rare to find a clothing range – let alone an independent designer – who is as inclusive, and who also doesn’t make you feel apologetic for the ‘inconvenience’ of your curves. As I’ve only recently learned to come to terms with mine, it was heartening to find someone else on my side.

My studio visit was a little like playing dress up with a great girlfriend. I tried on the coat, and spent about 15 minutes tying it in as many ways in front of a mirror. Then, there was the drape top (which ties wonderfully with a belt, while making you feel like a princess with a cape) – the scuba skirt was tempting, but my outfit didn’t quite allow for it. This time. Isabel shares a space with a few other local designers, and is planning a physical  on-site store soon, so customers who don’t feel comfortable shopping online, will have the chance to come in and experience the designs first-hand.

So, no matter your size or affinity for ‘fashion’, have a peek at Isabel’s collection – I dare you not to find something you want to take home.

Note : second and third images are from Isabel’s website. The last image is courtesy of Jenna McArthur PR for Spree.

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A visit to the Pichulik Studio
Designer spotlight: Isabel de Villiers