Designer Hellen Kitsandonis has been working hard in the Australian fashion industry for over 16 years. From design to production and a brief teaching post at one of Sydney’s most prestigious fashion schools, last year Kitsandonis decided to branch out on her own, launching the womenswear label ‘Maille.’ Pronounced “my”, Maille is the French word for stitch, something she’s sure to be doing a lot of now Vogue magazine have labelled her “One to Watch.”
Maille lace dress
Previously posted as the pattern maker of Ksubi denim, Hellen then moved to work solely on the denim range for cult Aussie label Bassike. Experimenting on her knitting machine, Hellen then designed and developed their first knitwear range. Determined to create a knitwear and dress collection of her own, Hellen suggests that most passionate designers always want to give it a go for themselves. And give it a go she has, with the beautiful Maille collection as the result. Summed up as a label of clever basics with a twist, Hellen prefers her clothing to be interesting yet still wearable.
DG: What does the name Maille mean to you?
It is more than just knitwear. It is about an ease of dressing. Just as we associate knitwear with comfort, I want people to associate the label with comfort and ease. Beautiful and interesting knitwear, dresses and things you want to wear now and forever.
DG: What is the inspiration or ethos behind the label?
I put a lot of thought into the pieces, so that the customer does not have to. I want to flatter the wearer; it is imperative in the design process. I am constantly drawing inspiration from around me. It does consume me a little, whether I am traveling, visiting a gallery, the theatre, somehow I can always relate it to Maille!
DG: Who is the Maille muse?
Confident women who like to experiment with style in an uncomplicated way. Looking for something a little different in her clothing, she knows what she wants and understands and appreciates quality and design.
DG: What common fabrics and manufacturing techniques are used to create the Maille collection?
I like to work with natural fibers – wool, silk, cotton. Regenerated fibers like rayon drape well too. The knitting starts with me. If not by hand then with me constantly experimenting on my knitting machine. It is not always standard yarn either. It could be strips of fabric leather or even paper.
DG: There is a lot of draping in the collection, do you prefer this softer silhouette for women’s dressing?
I do like to mix it up, a little soft and a little hard. The draping comes from my love of creating. Starting with a square of fabric, playing with it on the mannequin and ending up with a garment of some sort. I like using drape as a way to flatter the figure and create interest.
DG: What can we expect from Maille in the future?
I do see Maille as a lifestyle brand so I will introduce accessories as I see the need and there will come a time for men’s and children’s items. One step at a time!
Find Maille at The Ricarda Boutiques, Island Luxe, The Dreamery or online at www.maille.com.au