Desiree Ellen, a Junior Fashion Design Major at Savannah College of Art and Design, is inspired by her roots. Hailing from Chicago, she models the highly structural silhouettes in her work after the architecture of her home town. She particularly loves the 1899 Art Deco building where her uncle works. Created by Louis Sullivan, The Sullivan Center in downtown Chicago has an Art Deco corner entrance into -sadly- a Target store, but the ornate grandiosity of the entrance is typical of the style and details in The Windy City that Ellen finds so intriguing.
There is also a stairwell that is less known to the public but increased Ellen’s fascination with Art Deco with its intricate design and metallic finishes. “Copper is my favorite color right now,” she says, “but only when it's in the details.” Ellen loves fusing grommets, rivets and eyelets into her garments.
Ellen also has a lot of family in Mexico. The flowers, trees, colors and culture of Mexico are very meaningful to her lifestyle and creative process. “There are indigenous groups in Mexico that make traditional garments and I like to reinterpret that in a modern way,” she says.
The working class in Mexico is more careful with their clothing and recycle fabrics, partly because they have less, but also because they care more about the earth. This is a tradition she wants to incorporate into her own collections.
As an extension of caring about the earth, Ellen prefers to use natural fibers. “Not only is it sustainable, but it also feels nicer against the skin,” she adds.
Ellen loves texture and trying new processes. In her Adam and Eve collection she designed 6 looks. For the piece photographed, the jumpsuit is cotton twill and the top is rayon-jersey, a regenerated natural fiber. She also dyed them by hand and bought the fabrics locally to support small businesses.
Her process book has a lot of imagery of the snake and the characters in the 2013 movie, Only Lovers Left Alive about a vampire couple married for centuries also named Adam and Eve. Eve, played by Tilda Swinton, isn’t ashamed of who she is as a woman, or vampire, and exudes this both in her confidence and lifestyle.
Ellen was inspired by her attitude but also by the color palette of the movie which reminds her of fabrics from the Middle-East and the Victorian Era. She mixes soft colors like pale pink and tan (skin) with shades of green (for nature/the garden), red (for blood) and charcoal black (snake) for the fabrics.
Overall, a lot of Ellen’s work has the attitude of Garage Rock which often accompanies her when creating a collection. “I wanted my girl, Eve to have this certain bad ass attitude and listening to Garage Rock helps me get into this particular mindset.”
Desiree Ellen believes in powerful women and is one herself. She particularly likes long, wide trouser legs, minimal retro jackets, and mixing pinks and blues with neutral shades. She has an array of inspiration from architecture in the Second City to culture in Mexico and loves to travel. This combination makes for a very interesting designer and it is no surprise that she interned with Anastasia Chatzka in Fall of 2016.
See more from Desiree Ellen at behance.net/desireellen.