Spring 2019 Fashion – Must Have Fashion for Spring 2019

Noughties indie fashion favourite LyeLL is back with a rule-breaking new approach

nee upon a time in New York City there was a little store with a cult following. For seven years the store, named Lyell, was a go-to for fun, vintage-tinged fashion pieces that didn’t take themselves too seriously. Until one day in 2010 when, with the recession still rumbling, the designer closed up shop. Emma Fletcher was her name, and while she went on to ply her talents for Saint Lucia-founded label Tocca, her fans missed her special brand of whimsy and the roster of fresh, ever-rotating designs that had spoken of youth and grit and rebellious elegance.

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Like every good fairytale, this one has a happy ending. Or you could call it a happy new beginning. Because Fletcher is back with a new vision for Lyell, and this time around she’s breaking all the rules. Hers is a simple concept that ignores seasons and collections, instead operating on a steady roll-out of limited-edition pieces via an Instagram account, @lyellworld, that directs customers to her website, lyellworld.com. One girl, one item at a time, one seriously effective formula for whipping up a feverish following. “It’s slow, it’s deliberate, it builds the anticipation… or it’s just a drop in the ocean and no-one cares,” laughs Fletcher.

Only there’s plenty to care about. From a hand-sequinned catsuit to a Victorian lace bralette and high-rise blue jeans, these are collectable pieces that swing between the “practical and fantastical” (prices start at an accessible AU$150). And the Sydneyborn, Manhattan-based designer is enjoying free-wheeling after years of feeding the “beast” that is the traditional fashion schedule. “Instagram wasn’t even around when I finished Lyell,” says Fletcher. “When I think back to when I opened the store, I felt like all my instincts were right. Before I got into the ‘system’, I was making things, I was putting them into the store, I was creating that world -that’s when I was happy. Lyell is still the same thing. It’s the special pieces and then it’s great basics: classic, good cut with no fill. It’s just the essence of it.”

These days, Fletcher is working from the loft she shares with her 17-year-old son, seven-year-old daughter and her partner, a furniture designer who shares his woodshop when she needs. The project is self-funded, so the piece-by-piece model is not only a creative decision but a strategic business move. “No one [person] can have a clothing line these days, it takes millions,” she says. “I’m making it all in New York, so it’s a financial decision as well as a business model. A basic frame is plotted out but then I change things as I go along. That’s what’s good about it. I don’t have to just throw everything into an 80-piece collection that I can’t turn back.”

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