Michelle Kent is the designer and maker behind local Australian fashion label So Stella. We met up with Michelle at her beautifully bright home studio to find out what makes her tick.....
What is your background, what drew you to fashion design?
I grew up in Dubbo, New South Wales. My obsession with fashion, fabric and design started from a very young age and allowed me to escape into a world of glamour and excitement whilst growing up in the country. I always knew I wanted to be a fashion designer and as a child I spent endless days dreaming of starting my own label.
Upon graduating high school, my passion led me to Sydney to studied Fashion Design at the KVB Institute of Design. It was here I was really able to explore my creativity and feel in love with the process of design and the skill required to hand craft individual garments from scratch.
After working for several fashion houses in Australia, I started to become very disillusioned with the industry and began to question whether I wanted to be part of this huge money-making machine that was both exploitative to other humans less fortunate than myself and the environment. I started my label So Stella 12 years ago as a creative release. It made me realise what I loved about fashion and why I wanted to be a fashion designer.
Where does the name “So Stella” come from?
The label is named in honour of my maternal grandmother Stella Maloney. She always dressed so beautifully and is remembered for her timeless style. She was an amazing sewer and made majority of her clothes using quality natural fabrics. She truly appreciated the art of making the exterior of a garment look as good as the interior and it’s certainly where I get my eye for detail.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find so much of my inspiration for a design comes from the way a fabric falls over the body, its beautiful soft hand feel and natural lively movement. I love working with natural knit fabrics you can really shape and mold.
I have also been inspired to preserve the art of tailoring garments for individual women in natural fabrics and assist women in celebrating their own unique style.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
The So Stella aesthetic is simple, modern and intentional. I love fusing beautiful fabrics that effortlessly fall over the body with a clean and classic silhouette and finishing the design with subtle tailored elements.
So Stella designs are versatile, slightly tailored and extremely comfortable to wear.
How are your clothes made, what is the production philosophy?
I design, cut and sew all So Stella garments with my loving hands, in my studio in Orange, NSW.
I’m passionate about old school textile traditions, transparency, ethical production and quality. My production philosophy embraces the slow fashion movement where the purpose of the design, fabrics and materials used and how much is being produced, is all very much considered.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
I would love to see more and more people embrace the vision, ethos and process of So Stella. The label continues to grow from strength to strength which pleases me that not only are my designs being well received but slowly we are making a change in the fashion industry towards sustainable, humane and transparent practices. I ultimately would like So Stella to continue to trailblaze this path less travelled to inspire and lead other labels to follow.