When we were first exposed to the inspired works of Tilly Soelistyo, needless to say we were very much impressed. There is something impeccably raw about this fledgling label, which rose to the scene early this February. The collection, POSSI-TILLY-TY, presents itself as a unique ensemble of redefined garments that embodies sleek textures and striking monochrome hews. Invigorated by today’s urban fashion trends, the Indonesian born Chinese designer created a style tweaked in the most interesting ways and made it her own.
Audrey Lee: Care to give our readers a little more about your inaugural moments? What fuelled your decision to set foot into the industry?
Tilly Soelistyo: My love for design sprung from being plagued by my own difficulty to find clothing that fits, as during my teenager days I was short and scrawny. I started bringing my design sketches to a local tailor and had all my clothes custom made. Thus started my love affair with fashion.
What really fuelled my decision to start my own label was when my best friend lamented during one of our shopping outings that nothing flattered her well-endowed figure. That was my “a-ha” moment as it struck me that this is a universal problem faced by many women who have a certain predicament about their own body shape, so I launched my eponymous label TILLY in 2009 to play up the nice features of a woman’s body instead of hiding behind copious amount of fabric.
AL: How have you and your style progressed since then?
TS: My style progressed through interacting with my loyal customers who has been with me since the day one. One of my best-selling designs is the 7-way TTD (Tunic Top Dress). The success of this design encouraged me to come up with the diffusion line possi-tilly-ty, which was launched in May 2011 at Blueprint. The objective is to enable women to feel positive through the unique cuts and colour combinations that is figure flattering and to intrigue them with the possibilities of how each piece could be worn.
AL: For the interest of our readers who aren’t in the know of your work, how would you describe Tilly Soelistyo’s style? Any influences?
TS: My style is pared down chic, versatile and understated with a twist. This translates into my designs as I hope to help women feel more confident and find their own personal style effortlessly. I hope they will have a look-good and feel-good factor when they wear my designs, so I will not compromise in the quality of the fabrication and the workmanship. I ran into a loyal customer the other day and she was wearing a dress from my 2009 inaugural collection. It is comforting to know that my design and quality stood the test of time.
Jill Sander and Phoebe Philo. They create clothes that are so beautiful through being minimal.
If it is my personal style, it just evolved naturally through the years knowing what works and what does not for my own petite frame
AL: What do you find challenging in this line of work?
TS: Lack of supporting resources, from fabrication choices, trimmings as well as behind the scene channels that can help me achieve my ultimate vision. It is hard to find skilled people that can do embroidery, knitting and fine sewing for a reasonable price.
AL: What is your take on Singaporean designers as compared to international designers? Do you think there is a unique trait that is specifically homegrown?
TS: Due to our lack of resources, we are still quite far from what the well-known international or other designers based in other parts of Asia can produce for their collection. Having said that, I believe through being resilient and resourceful, we are starting to catch up.
As for the unique trait that is specifically homegrown, I would say majority of us local designers have to be pretty practical when it comes to designing our collection, as there are certain constrains due to our climate as well as the society’s pressure to blend in rather than stand out. Though nowadays, it is great to see more and more stylish folks are bold in experimenting and manage to carry their personal style with aplomb.
AL: What are your plans for the coming year?
TS: Through taking part in Blueprint possi-tilly-ty has made its way overseas. I hope to grow this initial success and expand to other parts of the world as well as grow my pool of loyal customers here.
AL: Finally, would you leave us with a little fact about Tilly Soelistyo?
TS: This is a tough one… I am an Indonesian born Chinese and have lived in Singapore for 13 years now. I have been blessed to have lived in 6 different countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Germany, USA, Shanghai and Singapore. These experiences have broadened my outlook of life and have taught me to be grateful everyday that I am doing what I love.
By AUDREY LEE
Writer, Insiders’ Clozette