How a collection is born, Part 1

The world of fashion can be relentless: new collections launched once, even twice a year, each with a seasonal line of clothing, and sometimes, capsule collections on top of everything else. And then, multiply that by the number of designers in the world, all with their own social media accounts clamouring to be heard – well, you can imagine the pressure to perform, the pressure to produce, and the pressure to keep it all glossy and shiny-smooth…

Back in Cape Town, hard at work and tucked away in our corner of the world, we thought we’d let the cat out of the bag and tell you about Elbeth’s creative process for birthing a new collection. This is the first in a six-part series, so stay tuned if you’re curious!


STAFF: Elbeth, it’s pretty much a fact nowadays that everyone, from the public to designers, is influenced by runway fashions and haute couture. With the advent of the internet and the spread of images on social media, it seems impossible to say that something is truly original. What’s your take on this?

ELBETH: I think it depends on your perspective and how you define “original”. I love to see what other designers are coming up with, because something they might be doing triggers an idea for me and then I can’t wait to execute that idea. For me it’s about a communal pool of inspiration that opens the gates to a flood of more ideas.

STAFF: From where do you draw your inspiration – are there any fashion houses that you’re drawn to?

ELBETH: A lot of my inspiration is drawn from haute couture collections – mostly the work of Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, Valentino, Dany Atrache and Chanel. Each designer has a quality I love.

Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2018 Bridal Collection


Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer 2018 Bridal Collection

STAFF: I think it’s easy to think that the bridal industry is immune from the pressures of the fashion world. In order to cope with the pressure, do you think there’s a move away from classic styles to trendy gowns that might not necessarily stand the test of time?

ELBETH: Most bridal houses have a signature style which will form the foundation of a collection’s look and feel, but the bridal industry is just as susceptible to fashion trends and moods; so bridal houses and designers may incorporate – to varying degrees – aspects of whatever is trending.

STAFF: One of the characteristics of your brand is its timeless luxury. How do you retain this while staying relevant?

ELBETH: I think that timeless quality which my brand is known for comes from a combination of things. I believe that a luxury item needs to stand the test of time, and in order to do so, it needs to be made well – I source the best fabrics and laces from around the world, and then we make each gown at my studio, finishing each one by hand. The silhouettes of my garments are also quite classic, and I bring a modern twist by playing with the fabric and the details – the way lace is used, the way a bodice is designed, and so on.

STAFF: Since we’re talking about trends, what do you think are this season’s trends?

ELBETH: Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a lot of illusion lace and lace tattoos, with the emphasis on sensual femininity. Lace was used in interesting ways, as was colour. Now I think we’ll see a swing back to more classic styles with lots of silk and satin and perhaps more modest gowns where covering up is the new sensual.

Elie Saab Spring/Summer 2018 Bridal Collection

And that’s it for Part 1! Next week, Part 2: Creating a moodboard.