This week I was able to pick the brain of Gabrielle Adamidis of Melbourne, Australia about herself and how she comes up with the lovely designs behind her lingerie line, Hopeless. The inspiration for Hopeless, which was founded in 2008, comes mainly from film, but I was surprised to find that they aren’t the sort of films you would expect…
When did you first start sewing?
I have been sewing ever since I can remember! My mum used to sew me dresses from Liberty cottons when I was very young, and I used to make things from all the scraps. I also loved embroidery, knitting, and crochet. As a teenager I made a lot of my own clothes, and then went fashion school where I really learnt how to sew properly. As far as lingerie goes, there was not much of that at fashion school, so the lingerie part is pretty much completely self-taught.
What led you to choose sewing as a career path?
I always knew I wanted to be doing something creative, and I just loved sewing my own clothes so it was really just about chasing my dream. If I could make Hopeless into a successful, longstanding business: that would be my ultimate dream.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Mostly from films, I have always loved old movies, and just any movies really. I think if I wasn’t doing lingerie I would also love to do costume. Then you don’t have to think about what will sell and can be much more free in the creative process.
Beyond film, inspiration can be found pretty much anywhere. I love natural history, animals, interesting landscapes, flora and fauna; I pretty much just jumble a whole heap of visual inspiration together and think about interpreting it in different ways.
There are so many! John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Charles de Castlebajac, En Aura Tout Vu, Sonia Rykiel, Dion Lee, Betsey Johnson, Versace, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Rodarte, Viktor and Rolf, Strumpet and Pink, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, P.A.M, Karen Walker, Chantal Thomas, Romance Was Born,… It is never ending really.
What is your workspace like?
My workspace is not very good at the moment! I live in a small apartment with my boyfriend, and work in the small space between the living room and the kitchen. It’s only a couple of square metres so I have to by hyper organized to stay on top of everything. But we are moving soon to a bigger house so I really am looking forward to having some room to breathe. The best thing will be being able to separate the sewing/creative area from the admin/paperwork area!
Do you have any tips for aspiring lingerie designers/seamstresses?
Work hard, and never give up. You can always do better, constantly look for inspiration and improve your craft. Learn to sew properly, and master the art of pattern making. Do work experience or an internship somewhere and learn how things work in the industry. Stay true to your dream and enjoy the journey. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, learn from them and move on.
What is your favorite sewing tool and why?
The old needle and thread, I really love hand sewing.
Do you have any suggestions for sewing lingerie?
For me it was a HUGE amount of trial and error. Here in Australia there aren’t as many opportunities to learn like there are in Europe. I have just done it all by trial and error, so the best advice I can give is don’t give up! Lingerie is really hard, it is much more fiddly and technical, so you need a lot of patience.
The lightweight jersey has taken a lot of getting used to and is quite difficult to sew. You need to have the right needles and it took a long time to get the tension on my machine correct for such a fine fabric. Also the best advice I can give when using really lightweight things is to just go slowly. Both my machines have a tendency to chew things up if I get too eager and speed through it.
What sewing technique would you be lost without?
Hand finishing, I find it really hard figuring out finishing techniques without more machinery than I have… I would love a coverstitch machine, an elasticator machine, a bar tack machine. But without these things you just have to make do. I do a lot of hand finishing because I don’t have these machines, but I think that is what sets me apart from the more mainstream brands. I have the patience to do all that hand finishing!
You can see more pictures of Gaby’s designs and other visual inspiration on her blog, Spokes n’ Daggers, where she has also has an excellent ongoing feature about starting your own business.