From the start, fashion designer Isabelle Vijiiac proved that bringing together simplicity, contemporarry design and experimental forms makes for huge succes in Romanian fashion industry. Her line built on her signature aesthetic of bold, dreamy colors and stunning proportions creating feminine, classic and sexy designs. Isabelle’s dresses have become her staple and have been worn by many celebrities. CVLTARTES speaks to Isabelle about her inspiration, best or worst trends, and many others.
Hello, Isabelle! Thank you for accepting our invitation and please do let us know more about yourself. First thing off, what sparked your interest in fashion?
Hi guys, thanks for having me in your lovely magazine! I’ve always been drawn to colours or fabrics, and had my inspiration and senses tingled by the first fashion magazines I’ve put my hands on. I was fascinated by the process, how a piece is born, from the design to the finished product. My grandmother used to cut and sew most of my childhood dresses, it made me so proud knowing I was wearing something unique. Both my mother and grandmother were beacons when it comes to style, I’ve admired their clothes and some of them I’ve even integrated into my own wardrobe. I’ve never been keen on trends and always tried to express my personality through the way I dress. Emotion is primordial in most steps I take and choices I make, and that is the case with my decision to go to the Univesity of Arts in Bucharest. I’m lucky to say I still do everything with passion, which makes things easier everytime things take a wrong turn.
What helps you get in the zone when you’re designing?
Inspiration is like a wayward muse, which makes me crave for a certain setting to be able to create. My inner state is positively shaped by a sunny day, the calmness of music in the backround and a damn good coffee. I have days where I go into a trance and everything just flows. I do have the ocassional unproductive days, where it all feels like a struggle, but I’ve learned to just put a stop to it, take a step back, regroup, and come back to it with a fresh perspective.
How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
Free, feminine, beautiful. Clothes should not strait-lace a woman, alter her personality, they should be the finishing touches, give her that “je ne sais quoi” charming aura.
What has been the best design trend in the last five to ten years? And what has been the worst?
BEST: Prairie dresses – since 2017, hems have gotten longer and sleeves have continued to grow bigger and bigger. They are one of my signature looks over the years. Slip dresses – best version of the “underwear as outerwear” movement.
WORST: Wedge sneakers/chunky sneakers and overly distressed jeans.
What music, movie, book or magazine gets you ready to sketch or brainstorm?
It depends on my emotional state at the moment. Yesterday for example I’ve had Saint Etienne, and Madonna’s Ray of light on repeat. These days, in my spare time or just before going to bed, I’m reading Elena Ferrante. The last inspiring movie I saw was La Danseuse. In the online world, I follow Dazed and Confused, AnOtherMagazine and some lesser known outlets on Instagram.
What aspects of the fashion industry would you like to change?
Fast fashion is particularly bad for the environment, as pressure to reduce cost and the time it takes to get a product from design to shop floor has a negative impact on our lives. Water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals, deadly labor practice and increasing levels of textile waste are affecting our planet (I recomend this documentary to get an idee of what happens behind the clothes manufacturing process Fashion’s Dirty Secrets by Stacey Dooley). I always encouraged my clients to buy local, to choose something they would wear for a longer period of time, that is why my items are made-to-measure for a perfect fit. I started looking for natural fabrics from sustainable sources and re-use the small pieces left from the garment patterns. We can all make small changes in our shopping habits for a better future.
What are three pieces every woman should have in her wardrobe?
I would not generalize for all women out there, but for me the three key pieces are: a white shirt, preferably oversized, a diaphanous summer dress and a classic cut pair of jeans.
How can a woman dress sexily without showing much skin?
When women wear suitable chlotes fitting their silhouette, this trancends into their state of mind, they become radiant, sensual and gracious in their motion. Being sexy should be the effect of a casual and relaxed attitude, not enforced by provocative clothes and exagerrated or vulgar make-up.
As an imagination game, if your clothes would have the power to speak, what would they say/scream?
We write poems with delicate fabrics.
How an attire inspired by your worst nightmares and fears would look like?
Almost every mid 2000s fashion trend starting with very-low-rise jeans, velvet tracksuits, micro miniskirts and pointy below-the-knee boots.
Is there a Hollywood celebrity you would like to dress and why?
Then – French actress Jeanne Moreau, whether she wore simple things like skirtsuits, button-downs, sheath dresses or some dazzling pieces jewellery, it was with the ease and nonchalance of a French girl.
Now – Cate Blanchett is one of my favourite actresses, with a penchant for directional and sometime eccentric designs, she often avoids the safe option preferring to experiment with pieces from Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Armani and Givenchy. While some actresses can look overwhelmed by structural silhouettes or bold detailing, she always adds her own individual stamp resulting in her status as a fashion maverick rather than a follower of trends.
Lately, Mihaela Coman seems to present your work in such a delicate and surreal way. How do these photo shootings work? Who normally has the primordial idea?
Michelle is a dear friend and an extraordinarily talented photographer, and I absolutely love working with her. We have both came up with ideas for our projects, I always design pieces especially for these photoshoots, following our fluid mood-board. She is somewhat of a maverick and always strives to push things a little further, creating these surreal images.
The most unconventional place you’d love to do a runway?
An abandoned villa in Italy, Rodin Museum in Paris or Trinity College Library in Dublin.
The best musical background for your shows would be..
Vivaldi – Summer recomposed by Max Richter
Yann Tiersen – Rue des Cascades
Warhaus – Dangerous
Steve Reich – Music for 18 musicians
The best dressed Romanian celebrity.
Actress Ana Ularu.
Cover photo: Paul Alexandru