Looks from Sheryl May’s SS21 collection. Image supplied.
Sheryl May has been designing her eponymous womenswear label for over 20 years, first launching it in 2000. She initially studied fashion design in Wellington in the 90s before moving to Europe, opening her own label in London. In 2008, Sheryl returned to New Zealand after 16 years abroad and her brand is stocked in selected boutiques throughout Aotearoa. Sheryl May’s collections are proudly New Zealand made offering gorgeous signature fabrics that often reference nostalgia and the beauty of nature.
We caught up with Sheryl to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about the latest collection
My SS21 collection – South of the Border, is a range that celebrates our beautiful life here in Aotearoa. In reflection of a year spent grounded on the East Coast, its been a bit like falling in love afresh with my hometown. The backyard literally inspired a selection of limited edition signature prints which feature Kereru and Kowhai and postage stamps which evoke that sense of both bliss and nostalgia. Prairie collars and vibrant plaid inspire a cottage-core look in anticipation of a slow summer days spent between orchards and coastlines. Floaty hemlines, billowy sleeves, and romantic floral define the ranges feminine spirit.
What made you become a designer?
The first thing I remembered I wanted “to be” was a nurse, then a policewoman – I think that was a direct influence of watching Charlie’s Angels in the 70s, – I don’t remember the turning point of wanting to be a “designer” but I guess it was a mix of the creative environment in which I was bought up. My dad is a potter and my mother has always been a made-to-measure maker. I love people and art, and I guess fashion is that thing that brings them both together.
Looks from Sheryl May’s SS21 collection.
What inspires you?
Beauty! And I generally find that in my surroundings. I am a bit of a gypsy at heart, a wanderer and a traveller, and home is where I lay my hat! As such, my inspiration is always changing, but actually staying the same. I am a Gissy girl. The beautiful East Coast with its endless beaches, birds and unique culture, call to me. I was also an exchange student when I was 17 years young, and spent a year living with a wonderful family in Spain. It was an experience that opened my eyes and changed my life. I learned to dance Flamenco and speak Castillano, and life was never the same again. Anything Latino lies close to my heart and resurfaces every time I put a collection together.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs.
I could only describe my style as eclectic. A touch boho, but elevated. I love easy, unstructured feminine airy garments, but teamed up with something a bit tough. I like to mismatch plaids stripes and floral, and mash up vintage with the new. I love print and pattern and texture, and altogether please. My style undoubtedly influences my designs in that it is a freedom of spirit I design for.
What is your all time favorite purchase?
My cowboy boots. I bought them in Ibiza!
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
A great statement coat! If you have to just pop out somewhere you can throw it on and it doesn’t matter what you have on underneath, but you look a million dollars instantly!
Do you have a style rule you always obey.
Yeah, ignore the rules!
Look from Sheryl May’s SS21 collection.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Too many to count actually as each time a new one comes along it overshadows the last. I guess selling into several stores in Paris in the early 2000s has to rate highly though! I felt pretty proud thinking at the time I am just a girl from Gissy!
What cant you live without?
That changes, but currently its my Merino singlet and Uggs.
You would never catch me wearing…
Chartreuse – I love the colour but it doesn’t like me!