Designer Cybèle Wiren. Image supplied.
Designer Cybèle Wiren recently announced a return to her namesake womenswear brand Cybèle with her latest collection launched for the Autumn/Winter season. Titled Damascena it’s a new take on her signature style with modern silhouettes, vivid pops of colour and clever digital prints. Cybèle has been taking a break from producing seasonal collections since the Spring/Summer 2015/2016 season during which she spent time with her children and lectured at AUT on fashion design. Having originally launched her label in 2003, the designer enjoyed the break but had a strong desire to return to producing collections much to the delight of her many fans. Her new collection Damascena is available exclusively online and at The Shelter now.
We caught up with Cybèle to find out more about her new collection, her approach to ethical fashion and what made her become a designer.
Can you tell us about your new collection for AW 19 called Damascena?
Damascena takes its name from an artwork by Dutch artist herman de vries, ‘108 pound rosa damascena’, a circular “carpet” of rosebuds emanating an overwhelming scent, designed to evoke sensory memories from its audience. That idea of artificial or provoked sensory perception is a key theme in the 1977 short story by sci-fi author William Gibson, “Fragments of a Hologram Rose”. It is the tale of a jilted ex-lover trying to get to sleep in a dark, polluted city by way of fragmented sections of artificial sense-recordings. The visual of the Hologram Rose became the key print for the collection. It has a glitchy feel as though screen-grabbed from a flickering computer screen, a poignant moment from imagined cyberpunk future where nature is bound to technology and the idea of plants and flowers is nostalgic, depicted as the (un)reality of a hologram.
How would you describe your personal style and how does it influence your designs and collaborations?
Day to day my personal style is minimalist. Then again I’m quite a dreamer and a perpetual crafter, the combination of all these things influence how I work and what I make.
Looks from Cybèle’s AW 19 Damascena collection.
How do you balance the creative and business demands of your role in your brand?
I enjoy all aspects of the business and creative roles, so having to balance it all is a great opportunity to have a varied work day.
Not everyone would agree with me but I like to multi-task and always have several projects going simultaneously. I move between creative work and more task-oriented jobs and the break between helps me to process.
What has been the most disruptive change in fashion for your brand since you launched it in 2003 and how have you evolved your business to manage it?
The industry itself feels like an almost entirely different landscape to what it was 17 years ago! When I started we shot look-books on film and I’d never thought of having my own website. The shift to online for both media and sales has been rapid and disruptive in terms of change but presents incredible opportunities too.
There has been an increasing awareness from consumers and the industry about the issues around creating fashion ethically and sustainably. How important is that to you with your own business and what factors do you take into account when you personally shop from other brands?
It has always been important to me that the Cybèle brand is made in NZ. It is great to see consumer awareness of ethical production growing and the fact we are made in New Zealand is important to our customers.
Looks from Cybèle’s AW 19 Damascena collection.
What made you become a designer?
I grew up with a lot of creative freedom and encouragement and made my own clothes from a very young age. Looking back it seems clear that I was always on a path to a creative career. After I did a Visual Communication Degree with a major in painting I lived in Melbourne for a few years, assisting several small independent fashion brands and short contracts with bigger corporate apparel companies. I did a night class in pattern making and had my own personal dress-making clients as well. So it was a crash course in many aspects of the industry. That time helped me to understand and form the framework for where I fitted in to the industry and soon after arriving home to Auckland I started the Cybèle label.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There have been so many! From my first ever wholesale order, each collection has brought a new highlight (or several). The latest has been the re-launch of the Cybèle label at the Shelter which is an incredible space with an inspiring philosophy and totally unique in NZ , so it is really exciting to be have the opportunity to showcase my collection there.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to as a designer?
I was lucky enough to have Artist Julian Dashper as my lecturer in the last two years of my painting degree. He would constantly question whether or not I was having fun. While it sounds frivolous it is actually hugely important to maintain a focus on enjoyment of the craft and the outcomes. It is hard to be creative when you lose sight of the fun and while it is a business, creative expression that feels like a chore is never inspiring.