Kym Ellery talks fashion, Paris & new frames

Kym Ellery grew up in Perth, surrounded by the art of her Kiwi mother. At just 21-years-old she was offered a job at one of Australia's biggest fashion magazines, Russh, and a few years after that a pair of glittery tights she had made for fun were printed on the pages of Vogue. The magazine called her for credits and Kym realised she needed a name for her label. She replied 'ELLERY'.

Since then, ELLERY has become one of Australia's most coveted luxury womenswear brands, renowned for creating modern classics for intelligent women. It's only the third Australian label to be invited to show on-schedule in Paris and is loved by celebrities such as Solange Knowles and Madonna.

Kym now resides in Paris. Her current focus? ELLERY's Paris Fashion Week show on October 4th -  straight after Chanel and before Valentino, opening the brand's flagship store and launching her new eyewear collaboration with Specsavers. 

Kym Ellery wears ELLERY 04 glasses SKU 30474666 RRP 2 pairs from $299

ELLERY was first noticed when a Vogue stylist picked up clothes you had made on a shoot, how did it go from there?
He shot them and they had two full pages in Vogue Australia and a double page spread in Russh followed. They called me for credits and I just said 'call them ELLERY’. After the fashion magazines came out, especially Vogue, I thought ‘well, it’s already started; I have a stockists number in the stockists page. I have a brand, so I should probably make a collection’.

Where do you find your main source of inspiration for your designs?
It’s hard to say one but I’m very fascinated by architecture and I’m really into music, film and modern art. So, usually, if I’m stuck I’ll go to an art gallery. Travelling as well is a huge inspirational journey, just going to new places and seeing new things, observing mankind and what they’re wearing. Going to a random furniture store and seeing anything from vintage vases can inspire.

What designers or brands have inspired you over the years?
I really like Rei (Kawakubo) from Comme des Garçons. I think that what she does is amazing. I admire Miuccia Prada, I think what she’s done as a businesswoman is really inspirational for me and also a path that I would like ELLERY to take. What they’ve achieved as a family owned company and what Miuccia has achieved in one lifetime is amazing.

How did this range with Specsavers come about?
We met a while ago and really hit it off. The team there is amazing and we share a very similar brand values, so for me, it felt like a natural partner. They’re one of the most iconic retailers in Australia and New Zealand and I wouldn’t launch an optical range without working with someone that was an expert in that field, so it felt really easy and natural. It’s been a really exciting journey.

How did you come up with the collection? What was your inspiration behind the styles?
There were two facets behind the inspiration, one was about creating a collection that embodies the ELLERY DNA and was a collection of modern classics, but also to find more inspiration, we looked to iconic film personas and different characters. We wanted each persona we chose to represent a different kind of person so that the collection could be broadly appreciated.

How did you ensure the ELLERY brand was present in the collaboration?
Because I was there! (laughs). Sophie, our International Sales Manager, was there and so was Bruna our Art Director. We would only make each frame if we were proud to have it in our own collection if it wasn’t a collab. The same with the marketing and every other touch point, we wanted to make sure it felt ELLERY, and I feel like it does. 

Who would be your dream person to wear ELLERY?
We’ve dressed a lot of people now that were on my list, so it’s hard to say! I’d love to see, rest in peace, Diana Vreeland in these frames, and ELLERY clothes as well. I always cite her as a style icon. Our clothes were in Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ video which was cool – on other people, but I’m like ‘Beyonce might’ve touched that top’ (laughs). I also really like the idea of dressed Dianne Kruger, she’s cool.

What are the most important elements for you when designing a collection?
I think a lot about evolving what our brand is about and embracing that. The idea of working with tailoring, volume and nostalgic silhouettes, and evolving that in a new way each season so we can give our customers and fans what they want in a new, fresh way. It’s always about empowering women with your design, what makes you feel beautiful and confident and helps you achieve what you need to achieve in your day and in your life, that’s our focus. 

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Which frames are your favourite?
The gold frames which are John Lennon inspired are a particular favourite. And the clear glasses that are a bit of a Dianne Keating and Annie Hall inspired shape but are modernised with clear frames. I love the frames I based on Phillip Seymour Hoffman, with a bit more of a masculine bold shape, but with gold arms for an ELLERY twist. The tortoise shell was a bit of a Marilyn Monroe reading, we had a few great references of her with her different frames on that we loved.

Gemma Ward looks stunning in the shots, did you see her as the face of the first collection from the start?
Oh, thank you - I’ll take credit for that even though it’s all her! (laughs) Gemma had walked for ELLERY opening Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and that was really cool. I found her a real pleasure to work with. She brought her daughter to the show so I met her and we made little cotton ear plugs for her, it was so adorable. Gemma felt like the right fit when we were talking about who the face of the brand could be as it was about finding someone who embodied a strong woman, someone who’s successful. And she’s a mother which I love. She’s from Perth too, we’re from the same hood.

I know showing in Paris was a goal of yours, now that you’ve smashed that, what’s the next goal?
To open more physical stores is a big part of our strategy and that’s what we’re starting to think about now. We’re opening one in Sydney as our flagship and a template of what we’ll roll out internationally. Hopefully, in five years we’ll have Paris, London and New York too.

How do you find living in Paris? Do you see yourself there for many more years?
Yeah, it feels a lot like home now. I used to spend my down time in Sydney and travel with the collection but now it’s probably going to be the opposite. I have loads of friends there now and it’s a great city. I look forward to finding a permanent apartment and furnishing it and we’re currently working on an office, so Paris definitely feels like home. 

What’s next for ELLERY and yourself?
Our show in Paris is the immediate focus. We’ve just launched shoes and denim and this eyewear collection. We’re working on our new store and our new website, we’re hoping to launch handbags in the next year too. 

See the ELLERY x Specsavers collab here