I got the opportunity to interview the lovely Yumi Morrissey of Zilpah Tart who will be showcasing her Spring/Summer collection at FASHFEST 2016 tonight, 29 September 2016.
Zilpah tart is an Australian fashion label by designer Yumi Morrissey. Yumi named the label Zilpah Tart after her grandmother. She first launched her collection in FASHFEST 3 years ago in 2014 and has been presenting her collections every year in FASHFEST since then. She uses photographs taken around Canberra to create very unique patterns and print. She takes all of the photos on the fabric designs herself.
It was really great chatting to her and finding out her background. So without further ado, here it is.
How did you first get into fashion?
I decided I wanted to be a designer when I was 7 years old. I don’t know what made me think of that. I just made my decision and I never changed my mind. I used to make clothes for my troll dolls when I was 5 years old. And my mum taught me to sew, but I wasn’t allowed to use the sewing machine till I was 10.
I did a Bachelor of Fashion Design at CIT and that’s when I launched my label, but it was sort of a hobby back then (in 2007). I had a job in the public service after my studies, and I was had my label on the side as a hobby. It was hard to give up the secure job since running your own business is quite scary since your income isn’t guaranteed. When I had my son, Asher, on maternity leave, I used that time to see if I could make enough money in the business and then resign from the public service. That was a good transition time to try out running my own business.
I did FASHFEST for the first time in 2014 when my maternity leave was running out. The year after that I started doing my own prints for my label which was the thing that pushed my business forward and gave me a direction. It has really expanded since then and it is really a full time job now.
Where do you find the inspirations for your collection?
I have to think ahead and plan for the next few collections in advance so I can get the photos to turn into the prints. I guess I try to think of a theme to use for different collections. The very first collection I had, the theme was “warrior” which ways around the idea of women being the modern day warrior. I wanted to do a print that reflected the modern day women’s environment and for me that was Canberra, like Parliament House and the Fountain print.
What do you find the most challenging about designing your label?
I always get nervous about not being able to do a print that’s really cool. The current collection I have for FASHFEST was really challenging with the photos that I use because the theme is Skyline, and they’re all skyline views. It was much harder to create a pattern from a landscape view as opposed to just a shot of leaves. Because with my autumn collection, you can just flip the images and you get a really cool pattern. But with landscape, once you flip them you get a band of green grass or sky, and it’s just not flattering at all. So I found it really challenging and had to think about different ways to use the photos to make a pattern. The hardest one would’ve been the wind turbine pattern. I was about to give it up and then I started making a bit more abstracts and playing around with the colours and exposure of the images and I came out with this pattern which came out more abstract than the original photo.
I’ve also got the balloon print which I took the photo back in April during the Canberra balloon spectacular and that one is really cool, you don’t notice it until you look really closely and you can see the museum and black mountain tower in the background. The last one in the collection is the sunset print and I actually took this shot from the front step of my house.
What’s your favourite part about being a fashion designer?
I really do like the process of making the prints. It’s also about making something that people really love, particularly the sort of shapes that I used in a skirt like the full circle tend to be great shapes for women. So it’s really nice when people try it on and they go “I love this!”
What’s your favourite pieces and why?
I like the t-shirt dress and this is the style I always continue every collection. It’s my biggest seller and my customers love it. Customers tend to have 10-15 of the same style with different prints because they love it. And you can wear it during the day, or dress it up, you don’t have to iron it and you can just throw it in the suitcase when you’re travelling.
What do you think will be the next biggest trends?
I don’t tend to follow trends. Trends come in and out. My customers want something that just won’t fade away and you can keep forever. It’s about having something that’s really beautiful and comfortable. That’s the major thing. Especially after having a child, you really appreciate comfortable clothing which is why I stick to the jersey material.
How do you wind off after a busy week?
I really don’t because I am always busy. In winter it is a bit quieter so that is really my only down time and the rest of the year is just insane.
Make sure to check out Yumi’s new Spring /Summer Skyline themed collection on opening night tonight at FASHFEST 2016 at the National Convention Centre. You can purchase Zilpah Tart collection from the Cardiff Collective in Kingston, Canberra as well as Design A Space in Melbourne.