Inspired by sci-fi and fantasy literature, the creations by Lelash invoke a futuristic darkness that makes for unique club wear and everyday fashions. A creative cut from Australian Cyber Goth, Lelash is an emerging new presence in fashion from a designer who’s anything but fresh faced.
Leah, the designer behind the company, started young on the path to fashion design. Coming from a family that not only tolerated her interests in the dark and the creative but also encouraged and nurtured her instincts, she found personal expression through design, and fashion a natural process. In high school she crafted her own creations out of recycled garments and her own imagination. Having decided that it was the path she had to follow, she pursued a fashion design course while simultaneously launching her own business as a DJ.
With the work as a DJ funding her new design projects, Leah began to blossom as an artist and after completing her Cert IV in fashion design locally, she quickly moved to Sydney to take her education further with a diploma in fashion design from the North Shore College. It was here that Leah seemed to feel out of place amongst the crowds of what she called “Barbie Dolls”. Rather than suffer as the odd woman out, Leah rebelled with her designs and plunged into futuristic gothic motifs. It was there that she began to explore the world of Cyber Goth and began her experiments with materials like PVC.
At first Leah’s teachers in design school were critical of what they saw to be “costumes”, yet Leah remained firm in her style and continued to insist that she was pushing fashion boundaries with her concepts. It was due to this instance upon her own unique style that she was tapped for a very big opportunity in her first year at the college – she was commissioned to create a bullet proof vest used in video clip by Australian popstar Selwyn. After that, she continued her education with a focus on fitted garments and corset construction. It was then that another important opportunity appeared. Italian tailor/leather maker Mario Panvino was so impressed with Leah’s work that he offered her a year long, full-time mentorship. Her visions of future styles and designs inspired him and she began to work with him while still completing her studies at North Shore College. Upon completion of her degree at the college she worked with him full-time where she studied everything she could learn about tailoring, pattern making and leatherwork.
Seeing Leah’s potential, Mario began passing work to her from various clients. This helped Leah flush out her portfolio further with a wide range of interesting creations from a white, sheep skin leather wedding gown and various evening gowns to leather handbags and a range of clothing for Harley Davidson.
At the same time Leah was working for Mario, the Italian tailor encouraged her own developing style and prompted her to focus time on her own creations. That’s when Leah started to develop Lelash. Once Leah’s year with Mario had come to an end, Lelash seemed to come to life. She started out on her own and began exploring the darker side of fashion again, experimenting with concepts and materials that mainstream fashion wouldn’t necessarily approve of. Looking to the future, she also engaged in a small business management course to prepare herself for the business aspects of a fashion company and she soon registered the company before launching into designing for local design markets in Paddington, Sydney.
But as with any company launch, finances can be a hurdle. It can cost a lot of money to fund a fashion company, especially in regards to niche and couture brands. It’s something all designers have to face at some point, but rather than get discouraged and abandon the project Leah was determined to pay her own way through it. She took a job with an event company that eventually led to a full-time position as a Production Coordinator. Even this role proved to be an opportunity for developing Leah’s skills. She excelled in the creative role, focusing full-time on prop making and fabric creations while at the same time being exposed to the business side of things as she organized events and production schedules. It certainly wasn’t the dark and sensual cyber goth styling she had come to love, but it was a place where she could put her talents to practical use to pay the bills and learn industries first hand.
After spending a few years working with the event production company, Leah returned to her real passion. She left the company to refocus her time on Lelash, a project that was never far from her mind. Working with textiles and design is clearly a life long passion for Leah. Rather than closing herself off to focus solely on her dream company, Leah continues to work closely with and in the textiles and design industry in order to keep up-to-date on trends and innovations. Leah understands that the key to a successful design company is not to simply create something, but that there’s a business side to things that can’t be ignored.
When Leah approaches her work, it’s with a broader focus in mind beyond the fabric in her hands at any given moment. From inspiration to completion, Leah is drawing on every bit of her education and experience to create. Her work is deeply complex and imaginative, each piece possibly taking months from start to finish. Yet, even while she’s drawing from a fantastical source of inspiration, she strives to make designs that her clients will still find accessible and comfortable even as they push the limits of today’s designs.
The key to Leah’s success so far must be her ability to work towards big dreams and high goals through realistic strides. Motivated by her own hunger for creative control, she developed herself personally and professionally before fully making her launch into Lelash. She didn’t see the education and work that was required as a hindrance or a stopping point, she pursued each opportunity as a chance to further her own skill set and didn’t simply sprint towards the finish line. It’s Leah’s careful attention to development and concept that makes Lelash a company to watch out for in the coming years. www.lelash.com