Australian designer Isabelle Guillemot on her design inspiration
Jenny Hewett meets Australian designer and former Dubai expat Isabelle Guillemot to find out about the launch of her label Deadly Companions in Jumeirah boutique O Concept and to talk about her inspirations for the brand.
Having launched minimalist, street-wise label Deadly Companions in Australia and New Zealand last year, designer Isabelle Guillemot and her business partner Lucina Mason were quick to identify Dubai as their first international market. It’s not an avenue many designers take, but the 26-year-old had ties to the emirate and understood the opportunity here. ‘My parents have lived here since 2005 and when I finished school I lived here for two years, working in brand management. I got a taste for the Dubai retail scene and have been visiting each year ever since. I love that it’s a melting pot of diversity and a global hub for all things style.’ Here, we put her in the hot seat to hear about all things Deadly Companions.
Why Dubai? It was an obvious choice for us. The UAE, and in particular Dubai, is evolving as a hub of creativity that attracts many independent designers. I read somewhere that shopping is the third largest reason people travel to Dubai, and with events like Fashion Forward and the recent announcement of Dubai Design District, we want to be a part of that.
Tell us a little bit about the name Deadly Companions. How did it come about? It’s symbolic of friendship, companionship and also reflects the relationship between men and women.
What is your aesthetic? Our style is constantly evolving depending on the artists we work with or the current trends in fashion, design and architecture. But we always gravitate towards clean lines, strong structure and form.
Tell us a little about the process of finding a Dubai stockist. How long did it take? There is a lot of legwork involved. We’re proud to say that we’ve got our label to where it is today without the use of agents or distributors. This way it’s placed at a competitive price and is more attractive to the retailer and the customer.
How do you make a profit from this relationship? Our product is sold at a wholesale price to stockists and we then provide them with a recommended retail price. So our profit comes from the difference between these margins.
What’s the theme of the latest collection? It’s rebellious, youthful and wearable fashion for both men and women. It’s high-street wear that’s also ethically minded: wearing Deadly Companions means you look great without the guilt because we are dedicated to quality design and production. Generally, fashion trends originate from individual style on the street, current music and also pop culture. We keep a keen eye on street style, in particular, to keep on top of trends. This season we’ve worked with structured fabrics to create strong silhouettes for women while sticking to simple shapes for men.
Who are your design inspirations? We work extremely closely with local artists and incorporate their work into the patterns and prints you can see throughout the collection. We’re also working with Sydney-based artist Julian Meagher for Autumn/Winter 2015 and are so excited to have his beautiful art on our clothing.
How do ideas best come to you? I think they come to us both from things in our natural and urban environment, as well as from sourcing fabrics the season before. We also get ideas from collaborating with artists and of course street style and pop culture, as I’ve already mentioned.
Who are your favourite designers? There are so many, but I would put Givenchy at the top of my list. I know Lucina is a fan of Alexander Wang and Nicolas Ghesquiere. From Dhs179 to Dhs815. Available at O Concept, Jumeirah 1 (04 345 5557) or at www.deadlycompanions.com.
Where to find Aussie labels in Dubai
Lady Mauve Melbourne-born Dubai-based designer Melissah Russo hand-makes cool jewellery using crystals, skulls and beads, and she frequently holds pop-up events. www.facebook.com/byladymauve.
West LA Boutique Home to hot Antipodean brands including Finders Keepers, One Teaspoon and Bless’ed are the Meek and Shakuhachi. www.westlaboutique.com.
S*uce Stocks Aussie stalwart Sass and Bide as well as Adrian Bressanutti. Various locations including Village Mall (04 344 7270).