Bespoke dressmaker Isabella Longginou gazes over cascades of fabric draped from floor to ceiling, admiring what her childhood self only dreamt of – her self-labelled line of couture. Isabella’s studio is tucked away in a corner of her Hamilton home, with sewing machines poised and cutting tools sprawled over the length of her work bench. “I make everything myself by hand, and from my own designs,” Isabella said. The dressmaker’s romance with fashion stemmed from her mother’s influence, a designer herself. Surrounded by fabrics, trim and twine growing up, the mesmerising realm of vogue was bound to leave its mark.
When asked about her favourite piece, she simply smiles and points to a frame on the wall. Inside is a lady adorned in an exquisite French lace wedding gown fit for royalty.“I made it for my friend,” she croons. “That dress actually sparked the fire I needed to start custom production.” After chipping away at a career in wholesaling and styling for three years, only to constantly be met with closed doors, Isabella knew something had to change. “Once I made that wedding dress and people could really see what I could do, the requests started rolling in,” Isabella said. As the business grew, Isabella searched for helping hands close to home.
“At the moment I have my Mum to help with all the handiwork, and she’s great to bounce ideas off, she’s my own personal ‘wing woman’!” With dreams of expanding her label to international shores, Isabella is already getting nibbles from cities further than she could have imagined. “I have a few ladies who will sometimes fly in from around Australia to get fitted for new designs which is amazing, but the most exciting has got to be a lady who came all the way from San Francisco.” But snagging international clients means keeping an open mind for designs. “I don’t really stick to a certain theme with my pieces, but I adore anything bright and bold, frills and flounces and balloon sleeves. The bigger the better!” she said, brushing her hand over a vibrant rack of dresses. “I love working with natural fibres, so your linens, cottons or silk, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving frill skirts.”
“I try to re-vamp my old styles and make original pieces even better and more versatile.” Meeting her clients is the most valuable part of the creative process for Isabella. “Sometimes they come to me with an idea, or see something on my Instagram, and we can mix and match from there, we can work with more suitable fabrics to them, or adjust a neckline to something they feel confident wearing, and I can’t do that without getting to know them.” Isabella stops and gazes at the garments lining the walls of her studio; her face shines with the excitement of what is next to come.
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