Designer Tessa Bailey-Lont from Lontessa. Image supplied.
Tessa Bailey-Lont is the designer behind beautiful womenswear label Lontessa which she founded in 2013. Tessa has previously shown her brand as part of New Zealand Fashion Week’s Miromoda show and she is inspired by sustainability, femininity and cultural values. Earlier this year Tessa took Lontessa to Paris where she was the first Māori designer to show on the runway at Paris Fashion Week.
We caught up with Tessa to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
My last collection which showcased in Paris is called Children of Tané, it was inspired by the Flora and Fauna of New Zealand. My website describes it much nicer:
Inspired by the unique biodiversity of New Zealand, this collection expresses a sensual South Pacific escape. Hand dyed organic silks combine with finely detailed beadwork and embroidery to create elegant, intoxicating silhouettes. The beauty is classical. In contrast the coats and jackets are made from PVC and silk organza embellished with Swarovski crystals, plastic straws and spoons to raise awareness to the pacific plastic patch.
What made you become a designer?
My grandmother was a seamstress for the iconic Kiwi clothing brand Swanndri and would make us clothes growing up with her home machine, I starting designing my own fashion rather young because we were and are still very close. I went to Massey Design School in Wellington which led me to a degree in Industrial Design and Contemporary Māori Art. I love creating things and communicating ideas into something physical.
What inspires you?
My Māori values are my biggest inspiration, growing up on the marae with strong values for nature, community and family and then finding how those values fit in with the rest of the world. I have lived in Europe and now spend much time in Singapore, understanding the diversity of people and the needs of women inspire my work. Trying to express what a modern Māori or a flying Kiwi means.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My style is sensual, feminine, a little eccentric without trying to attract to much attention.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
A piece of art from NZ Artist Evan Woodruff.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
A Lontessa Cupro Shirt.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
It’s not what you wear it’s how you wear it.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Walking into the ballroom at Intercontinental Le Grand Paris and feeling the moment of a dream come to life.
What can’t you live without?
My incredible support network.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Ugly fast fashion – It really makes me upset when I walk into a rack full of the poorly designed polyester garments that I can’t imagine anybody wearing, I think how it ends up in trash without being worn or loved at all.