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Exclusive interview: Être Cécile

In a city synonymous with luxury, the fashion rebels at Être Cécile are challenging tradition with its contemporary collections. Dominique Fenn meets the designers behind the label

Dominique Fenn
Dominique Fenn,

Chic simplicity is a phrase often used to describe French style, particularly that of Parisian women. However, emulating this enviable aesthetic can prove difficult and even the most fashion savvy can struggle to achieve that certain je ne sais quoi.

Être Cécile is a brand which perfectly captures that certain something. Creating extremely covetable collections with Parisian edge, this contemporary ready-to-wear label has taken the fashion world by storm to become a serious contender in the last few seasons.

Paris via London
The logo on the Être Cécile website features the phrase presque Parisienne – almost Parisian – and, if you can’t actually live in Paris, this is the next best thing. While the three designers behind the brand are all based in London, French influences pervade. Être Cécile is named after the grandmother of one of the designers, an Irish-born artist who lived in Paris in the 1960s and had a creative flair for fashion and a love of animal prints.

Initially all three designers remained anonymous but later revealed themselves as Yasmin Sewell, Kyle Robinson and Jemma Dyas. As a collective, they aspire to create ready-to-wear collections inspired by the ‘cleanliness of French style.’

Casual and contemporary
‘Être Cécile defines a new breed of contemporary brands, combining the ease and wearability of casualwear, along with considered aesthetics that sit comfortably among designer pieces,’ explains Sewell. ‘Playing on its original identity as a luxury T-shirt label, the brand finds its voice in subtle injections of humour and light-heartedness, reflective of its true essence and approach.’

Occupying the ground between streetwear and ready-to-wear, the brand is aimed at women who want to feel comfortable and also look stylish. Sewell, Robinson and Dyas do not consider themselves designers as such. In fact, it is the diversity of their individual backgrounds that has led to the brand’s easy, effortless style.

Fashion force
Sewell is a powerful force in British fashion, responsible for bringing Christopher Kane to renowned British boutique Browns in 2006. She also encouraged JW Anderson to branch out into womenswear after discovering his menswear designs in 2009. Robinson is the founder of a successful marketing and distribution company and Dyas, a buyer and fashion consultant, has worked closely with a number of leading luxury brands.

‘We wanted to create something fun, easy to wear and accessible but a little bit slicker. That’s why we use a heavier weight cotton – it’s a little more tailored,’ explains Dyas.

Social media storm
While quality is of the utmost importance, the brand does not take itself too seriously – a fact best demonstrated by its ongoing love affair with punchy slogans such as Am I French Yet? Social media has also played a very important role in the rise of the label, with the designers’ quirky and irreverent outlook suited to Instagram in particular. Fans of the label include model Jourdan Dunn, blogger and style influencer Susie Bubble and, not least, Sewell herself, who has been photographed for many aspirational street style sites wearing her own designs.

Predominantly known for its T-shirts and sweaters, the label is planning to launch a fuller collection with a host of new items soon. This autumn/winter, you can expect a Parisian take on the American high-school dream. The collection features ditsy heart-print knits, fit and flare cheerleader dresses and chequered jumpsuits balanced with sporty wide-leg trousers, Breton stripes and tight-fitting T-shirts emblazoned with the phrases Petite Amie and Don’t Study – See the World.

Luxury links
Giants of the luxury fashion industry have also taken note of Être Cécile’s influence and, this season, the brand has collaborated with luxury leather goods brand Aspinal of London. The result is a collection of bags in five key styles, including the ladylike Mayfair bag, the mini trunk clutch, a tote and a mini rucksack. All the pieces reflect Être Cécile’s vision and feature vibrant, clashing colours such as fluorescent green, pink, yellow and cobalt blue.

‘I love the idea of taking something grown up, classic and serious and messing it up, having fun, taking it to an unexpected place,’ explains Sewell. ‘The brands are so different, it’s the unexpected contrast that excites me.’

The label’s relaxed approach to creating clothes signals a shift in the industry and continues to fuel an ongoing debate – what does luxury mean in this decade? The contemporary consumer desires luxury, whatever the price, as well as a more relaxed approach to dressing to suit their lifestyle. With its chic, playful aesthetic, Être Cécile is at the forefront of this new fashion era, and we can’t think of anyone better to take the lead.



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