Superella is the fashion label under which Ella Buter designs and works. Her style is whimsical and playful, but underpinned by thoughtful design elements.
A characteristic feature of a Superella garment is that it isn’t one garment; it can be transformed into any number of styles by a simple fold, adding another layer, or tying it in some clever way.
The same fluidity applies to Ella’s Melville showroom/studio. Every six months she redecorates the space to a new concept, creating an entirely new world. More is more for Ella, who is greatly inspired by old found-objects. These influence both her design and her décor aesthetic.
As the writing outside the shop says, Superella is “very much nice”. We caught up with Ella to find out more about her quirky aesthetic approach:
Where is your space?
My space is in Melville, across from the Bamboo Centre on the corner of 7th Avenue and 9th Street.
Is there a story about how you ended up in the space?
I think a lot of people wanted the shop I am in. I was first in one of the smaller shops in the same building, even the girl that was there before me wanted the shop back. So I feel very lucky to have been the one that ended up having the shop. I think it boils down to a good relationship with your landlord and paying your rent on time.
What about the location appeals to you?
The best thing about the location is that it is on a street, a busy street. So lots of people pass my shop everyday and they are intrigued enough to every now and then stop in. Probably one out of ten of these people becomes a client. I also have fantastic views over the valley below, a bit of green.
What is the Superella aesthetic?
My shop decor is about ‘something out of nothing’ or to use old found object in new ways. I think one of my favourite colours is the colour of wood or brown paper for that matter. So by collecting object in the same colour scheme it eventually becomes a story. Comfort is my most important design consideration – I design clothes to get me and my customer through a normal day. My designs are based on simple form and I look at costume and traditional wear for inspiration.
How does the space inspire you and your work?
As I say I look out on the green valley below. A bit of nature is always inspiring. The fact that the space has very high ceilings gives one a space to breathe in. Also the energy of always passing traffic keeps one going. I like all the old features in the shop, like the old wooden window sills and wooden framed windows and the red concrete floor – good basics to build on.
How does the space’s décor influence/interact with your clothing ranges?
I think it goes hand in hand. I think my clothes have a sort of old fashion, real appeal and the shop has all the old objects in it. Each season there is a sort of fantastical muse. For winter 2013 she is this kind of crazy, intellectual librarian. She is so much in her head that all her clothes don’t quite match. For Summer 2012 she was a futuristic domestic goddess. So the shop decoration always reflects these muses.
What were you doing before you opened Superella?
I started my brand as I left Fashion College. First I worked from home, then a studio at the Media Mill behind 44 Stanley, and then from home again. It was then that Jacques from Black Coffee told me that there was a space available across from Bamboo. I was first in the smaller shop for about 3 years and now in this shop for about 3 years. Oh, and before I went to study Fashion Design, I was a Visual Merchandiser for John Orr’s.
What inspired your current literary décor concept in the space?
My love for books inspired the theme for Winter 2013.
What do you enjoy about having a joint workspace and showroom?
It is quite a challenge to have my workspace and shop together. In the sense that there are days that you wish that you can just concentrate on your work, but you have to serve clients also. The good thing about it is that it keeps the space alive and people realise that clothes don’t fall from the sky, but are made by human hands.
What music is playing in your space?
I listen to compilations from my laptop or else we listen to Radio 2000 or classic FM.
What will the space never see?
I think almost anything can work, as I have once decorated my shop with mass-produced plastic. It is more in the way you display objects, than the objects themselves. For me more instead of less is the way to go.