This Emerging Designer Is Bringing Generational Australian Dressmaking to AAFW

Instagram / @allisagentlespring

One of the best parts about Australian Afterpay Fashion Week is the discovery of new and emerging designers.

It’s truly so easy to get stuck buying from the same designers that you know and love, meaning new designers often fly under the radar. Not only that, but it can be tough to know where to look if you’re after a new brand that aligns with your values, style and quality preferences.

But if sustainability, traditional dressmaking methods, elaborate, aesthetic and function appeal to you, look no further — all is a gentle spring is the Melbourne-based label you need to know.

Showing their first-ever collection at AAFW next week, we caught up with founder Isabelle Hellyer and her right-hand queen Hadi, to talk all things history, the undeniable beauty of handmade clothes and their upcoming show.

Isabelle Hellyer, founder of all is a gentle spring

PS: First, can you tell us a little bit of background about you, the brand, how it started, and your main inspirations?

IH: all is a gentle spring is uncompromisingly Australian made. We work with family-owned businesses with deep roots in the domestic trade to keep centuries-old hand sewing techniques alive here in Australia. My great-great-grandmother owned a dressmaking shop in Melbourne for decades, so perhaps I have a more personal motivation to continue the tradition of Australian dressmaking. I’m interested in history; that’s what I always return to. I like borrowing methods from costume history and theatre workshops and transposing them into the world of ready-to-wear. 

The collection we’re presenting at AAFW is special for the couture techniques concealed within the garments: waist stays, steel boning, buckram interlinings, and so on. As clothes trend stretchier, strappier, and more invisible, I wanted to move in the opposite direction. More elaborate, more functional. I make clothes that embrace the body.

What are you most excited about for AAFW 22? Is this a dream come true? 

Transporting my guests to a place where Spring never ends. If only for ten minutes; ten minutes of sublime beauty. 

What goes into preparing for an AAFW show?

More goes into this than I had even imagined. All hands on deck. Trust. Faith. Pressure sure; there’s pressure to pay for it all. Pressure to deliver something beautiful? Never. I know. 

How important do you feel sustainability is when it comes to new emerging designers and the evolving fashion industry? 

I want to do this work for years to come, so I need to sustain this in every sense — if you can’t turn a profit, build a family of people you trust, and find the balance, it won’t last. Sustainability is everything. 

How do you want people to define your brand?

I hope people see a piece of themselves in the gentle spring woman.

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