Fatumina Said Abukar interviews young designer Chanel Elkayam as she shows her first collection ‘La Sola Rosa’ at London Fashion Week.
I met British designer Chanel Elkayam as she was headlining with her hotly anticipated collection ‘La Sola Rosa’ on the second day of London Fashion Week AW17. Despite only being 19 years old, Chanel Elkayam has already achieved a lot in her career, notably for being one of the youngest designers in history to showcase her work at Paris Fashion Week. Chanel Elkayam’s first London collection was captivating; a beautiful blend of French-inspired couture with an oriental touch.
When asked what inspired her collection, she said: “The British poet and writer Vera Brittain inspired my collection because of her heart-breaking loss at the time of World War One. Her fiancé, Roland, gave her a rose on the last day he saw her at the train station. They never got married because unfortunately he was killed in the war.”
“To me every outfit is a character that you put on. In the collection I tried to show strong emotions representing the sadness of the lost love. The collection is sensual but at the same time sad. I wanted my audience to feel something when they saw it”. Her collection definitely embodied the concept of femininity and sophistication through the use of sensual fabrics and white and golden colours dominating the runway.
When speaking to Chanel herself I asked her who she would like to work with in the future: “I hope to be dressing the world’s most iconic women one day and ultimately work for Dolce & Gabbana or Dior.”
As a student at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, I asked her how she manages to balance her work with her studies: “When I started my clothing line I learnt to plan my days so that I could fit everything in, so that I wouldn’t be missing out on education and at the same time I would be progressing with my brand.”
What advice would she give to young designers aspiring to be in the same position? “When I first started I was very scared of failing but when you start, you get into it, and you just need to push yourself and keep trying. Mistakes are actually a good thing, my teachers at Central Saint Martins taught me that mistakes are a way to develop and through your mistakes you come up with new ideas.”
Her collection also saw wide diversity, with models from different ethnicities gracing the runway. “My clothing line is suitable for all women and so I prove this in my shows by using a variety of models from different races. Each one of them were beautiful and perfect for my outfits. I choose my models by their characteristics, personality, and their professional suitability.”
The runaway also featured international award winning fashion designer Daniel Hernandez presenting his bold and colourful collection and Helen Oro (Canada), who showcased a range of statement sunglasses inspired by her indigenous roots.
Images: Jessica Marano