Brand - HELLESSY
I believe in timelessness and do not follow trends
Sylvie Millstein is the founder of fashion brand Hellessy, which focuses on timeless pieces with an inherent sense of laid-back glamour. She brings her extensive experience in the luxury fashion industry and her unique French/Japanese background to create captivating designs. Based in Millstein’s Soho studio, each Hellessy collection is produced locally and ethically in NYC. Millstein’s brand has a following of notable celebrities including Emily Ratajkowski, Priyanka Chopra, and Rihanna. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion, Millstein talks about her dream, collections, design process and trends.
Fibre2Fashion: What drew you to the fashion industry and inspired you to start your own label?
It was a teenage dream of mine to work one day for Chanel in France after reading a copy of Vogue. Twenty years later, I ended up as the fashion buyer for Chanel in Japan, eventually working close to a decade for this amazing house. I moved to New York to start a family, and a friend of mine pushed me to start my own label.
F2F: Can you tell us why you moved from Paris to New York?
I moved to Japan to explore my mother’s culture, and after joining Chanel, I lived between Paris and Tokyo. I met my husband in Tokyo. We had to relocate to New York for his work.
F2F: How was your experience working with luxury brands like Chanel, Givenchy, and Harrods?
Givenchy and Harrods were quick stints. I spent the majority of my professional life before Hellessy working for Chanel.
F2F: How would you define the style and vibe of your brand?
Laid-back seduction, with an element of architectural drama.
F2F: What sets your collections apart from those of other fashion brands?
Timelessness. I do not follow trends. It gives versatility in each piece as they can be worn within a woman’s wardrobe season after season. Hellessy is all about separates, dressed-up denim, dinner tops that take you from day to evening, year after year.
F2F: What is the design process at Hellessy like? Can you share the steps from the concept stage to the final creation?
It usually starts with fabrics, in conjunction with rough ideas I sketch quickly over time. As we come close to the next season, I solidify silhouettes and edit out a collection with fabrics. I discuss with our pattern makers and sewers in the NY fashion district to finalise details and technical realisation. Then, it is a series of fittings from prototypes to final samples. Styles evolve during this time.
F2F: How do you balance style and functionality in your designs, particularly with regards to silhouettes?
A simple question to ask myself is: would I want to wear it? Wearability is crucial. I don’t do avant-garde or fantasy dressing.
F2F: Can you tell us about a difficult project you worked on and how you navigated through it?
Capsule collections for retailers were a pre-requisite and challenging to execute. They are a bit like special orders for a specific client in an ultra-tight turnaround time. I had to be really resourceful and creative.
F2F: Tell us about any of your design projects that had a significant impact on the industry or community.
Just maintaining, after 10 years, as ‘Made in New York,’ the entire woven category from development to production, from pattern making to sewing, has certainly contributed to keeping my partners healthy and weathering the pandemic better, at a time when a lot of brands produce outside the country for cost reasons.
F2F: Which celebrities or fashion influencers would you like to see wearing your designs?
I have dressed a lot of VIPs, but I would love to see Cate Blanchett or Kate Winslet wear my clothes.
F2F: Can you share your top five fashion trends for 2023?
Novelty denim on denim, sexy knitwear, ultra-feminine tailoring, sparkles, and metallics.
F2F: How do you handle criticism and feedback on your designs?
I am a merchant at heart, so any feedback I get to improve the product is welcome. I don’t need to take everything into consideration, but I filter through what I need to hear.