Ella Boucht is a newly graduated fashion designer from Helsinki, who now lives in Stockholm and works at H&M. She may sound like any other 24-year-old, exept that she is not. Her design has not only been worn by Rihanna herself, but it has also got its own “meme”. We were curious about this young designer. Where does she find her inspiration? What does she think about the fashion industry? And above all – how did Rihanna end up wearing her design?
Radar met up with Ella a saturday afternoon at café Femtopia in Horsntull to find answers to all our questions!
Have you always been interested in fashion?
– Yes, but before I started with fashion I entered a theater education for 5 years and was completely focused on that I would start the Theatre Academy in Helsinki. But I slowly became more and more interested in the costume designers job. My fashion and material interest grew more and more, until it tipped over and I began to look into the fashion and design schools instead.
When I hear the word “fashion industry”, I think it sounds scary. Is it?
– It is scary! It is a very outdated industry with very strong hierarchies and a kind of unpleasant spirit. One must hold on tight to the good people one finds. I have not chosen the easiest business – I’m aware of of that – but at the same time I know that it is with textile and fashion I can and want to express myself.
When you create clothes, what inspires you?
– It’s very different from project to project. I get a lot of inspiration from colours. When I was in London some years ago, I thought it was so beautiful with all the fruit stalls everywhere, so that´s an example of something I can get inspired of. Also, I get a lot of inspiration from other creators and things that are happening in the world. I work a lot on the basis of materials and love developing such. I think it’s really fun to develop and innovate.
– And of course I check what happens in the fashion world all the time, especially now with social media it is quite easy to stay up to date. Even if you do not think you look much at trends, you probably do. Instagram is a big box of trends, although it is not presented as one. When you see what others are wearing, which exhibitions they go to, or the food they eat, it is difficult to not keep track.
What inspired you in your exam-collection at The Swedish School of Textiles – University of Borås?
– I worked a lot with three things. Scale, sportswear and lace in combination. The starting point of the shape was sportswear, then I worked with the scale and added lace which doesn’t feel very sporty. For example, I made a sailing-inspired overall which I scaled up (a lot) and changed the collar of. I then got a much more feminine, almost prom-ish, outfit.
Was this combination your idea from the beginning or did it change during the process?
– It evolved a lot. In the beginning I looked a lot at how the feminine and masculine elements can be combined and how they affect each other. Then I developed it and I also watched a lot of historical costumes. It was a long process.
Your most famous piece from this collection is your gigantic pink jacket worn by Rihanna. How did she end up wearing it?
– Everyone who has graduated from the textile college shows their work at Stockholm fashion week, and so did I. Then a few weeks after, I woke up and had received a very strange email.
In what way was it strange?
– In the subject line it said (in caps lock) “ELLA BOUCHT / RIHANNA,” and then it said something like “hey, we’ve seen your stuff on Stockholm fashion week and we would be interested to have the clothes for Rihanna on her upcoming performances in LA” . There were some pictures of the looks, and then the e-mail was signed with “Best Jaleel”
– I immediately thought that “this is not real”. There was no corporate email or further explanation. But I started googling and checked Instagram, and after a while I realized that it probably was true, and I dared to trust it. So we began talking.
– First, the clothes were meant to go to LA, but they were very slow at answering. Then when I was home in Helsinki they contacted me, just before the Paris fashion week and asked if I could send everything down to Paris so that Rihanna could wear it for fashion week, which felt a bit strange since she was showing her own collection there. Stylists borrow a lot af clothes all the time, so I wasn’t sure she was going to use them. But then I woke up one moring and my instagram, e-mail and phone had gone crazy, so then I found out that she had.
Has this led to other things?
– Yes, absolutely, it has made many people open their eyes to my work, even people that didn’t know that I exist as a creator. I have received many requests on different things – collaborations, photo shoots, job opportunities, and to showcase my creations.
This came from nowhere and I was not at all prepared. I’ve never been someone who likes to be in the spotlight, so I was completely overwhelmed and felt an incredible pressure when all this happened.
– My email was completely full, my instagram escalated, people called. It was hard to know what I would say yes and no to.
At the same time it was very exciting to see how a picture on Instagram can get so big. How the right person with the right thing can create something like that. Everyone thought that I already had my own label, that I had shops and was already an established designer.
Do you feel that this happened a bit to early in your career?
– Yes, in a way. I’m not ready yet to start something on my own, I’m still interested in pursuing a master’s degree. To start your own label requires a lot, it takes time and money. I have just graduated – I’m not ready for it.
– But this is an amazing thing that I’ve gotten to experience. And a big dream for probably everyone who works in fashion; that the right person wears your creation. I’m very proud and happy that I managed to do it already!