If you have a penchant for tailored clothes like I do and have the means to make the investment, I highly suggest you add a little Nells Nelson to your wardrobe. Sisi Li’s attention to detail is exquisite (better than more expensive brands) and it’s nice to wear something that everyone else isn’t. To kick off our joint event in NYC next week at the Space Gallery St. Barth in Soho (next Wednesday, October 6th 11-8pm, 428 Broome St.), Sisi is graciously offering TFI readers 15% off all purchases on her site for the month of October on a lineup of exclusive pieces and special cuts that you won’t find anywhere else. Just use the code FLAIRFALL at checkout. I already have several Nells Nelson pieces in my closet, by am eyeing the gilet to wear at night with my Nells Nelson silk blouses (they are elegant + sexy have-forevers, so good), and the water repellant trench. And, if you come to the event next week, you have the chance to pre-order Spring. Here, I asked Sisi her inspiration behind the latest collection and more.
For those who aren’t familiar with Nells Nelson, when did you launch, what was the inspiration behind the brand, and what sets Nells Nelson apart from other luxury fashion brands? I always knew I wanted to design something like Nells Nelson and it happened when we moved to Italy in 2012. We lived in this part of Italy along the Adriatic Sea, the Le Marche region. The place is raw and poetic, the scenery is beautiful, and the people are very skilled and knowledgable with their hands. I thought “this is the place where I can make Nells Nelson.” I love to drive and drive a lot in Italy, so my first tailored blazer had a knit panel under the arm, that gave me flexibility of movement; it had the feeling of wearing a cardigan but looked sharp and put together. I like to feel comfortable and wear clothes that make me feel good, but I also like the freedom to explore and go around my day from market to gallery to dinner without feeling I am over or under dressed.
This feeling inspires me for every piece of Nells Nelson–it’s like being an industrial designer, we work very hard to make something beautiful and functional. Form follows Function. Every line or cut has a reason and there is a thought process behind it. We develop most of our exclusive materials. From the yarn we knit in a different texture, to the tension of the fabrics, it all starts with “fabrics that pamper you”. Strong, elevated and cared for is how I want women to feel in my designs.
Your collections revolve around tailoring. Do you feel that post-pandemic, women are ready to get back into blazers and suits? My design philosophy is to look polished and feel upbeat without being restricted. To me it is more than ever the kind of mood that we all want feel. I always said to the team, “even when the electricity is out, in the dark, you can still find the Nells Nelson piece in your closet.”
How has your collection evolved? The pandemic gave me space to see things in different perspective, for instance, I am a worshiper of black, but now I see other colors, I also see a more fluid drape.
Most rewarding aspect of your work? Every beginning of a season is a new chapter–the color story, the designs, the materials we create, the conversation and thinking process behind every detail. Then when the designs arrive we put the looks together, I shoot the look book photos and work with EB on the post production to make our expression come alive. When we see the final look book, it is the most rewarding moment.
The hardest part of having a luxury clothing brand and how do you tackle it? The hardest part of launching a luxury clothing brand in today’s digital world is reaching to our customers so they can touch and feel our clothes. Besides searching for the right retail partners, we have been doing different private events like this coming collaboration with The Flair Index and the Space Gallery; it gives us an opportunity to have customers to see the clothes up close.
What excites you the most about the fall collection? What was the inspiration behind it? The Fall 21 collection was designed and produced during the peak of the pandemic, it expressed our emotion of creating this collection, the whole polish and ease feeling. Now as things open up, we are really excited as our customers are ready and we are ready.
Do you have any personal favorites? What are you wearing the most? Oh I love them all, because we will not design anything in the collection that we don’t wear or live in.
Who is your customer and what does she want when it comes to getting dressed? The Nells Nelson woman is a confident, intelligent women, and our clothes are straight forward. You don’t have to think too hard to look good in our designs. Some days, I am so crazed in the morning, I just take whatever, randomly from the closet, and it works without compromising my look.
What do you look forward to most about Fall? I love Fall. I love the weather and how the colors of the leaves turn to the most intense shades of yellow, orange and red. And I love to start wearing layers.
Newest, favorite Fall purchases: I haven’t made any fall purchases yet. I’ve been looking for a pair of shoes for a long time, and still haven’t find them yet. Maybe I will start making shoes.
Something already in your closet you are pulling out now: A deep emerald green silk trench from my 2017 spring collection. I have been wearing it a lot with my deep green Hermes messenger bag.
What are you enjoying most now that NYC is opening up? I love to walk around the city and visit art galleries.