Le T-shirt, c'est chic in any language. But ask style guru Yasmin Sewell if she can speak French, and she will laugh and say, ‘Non!’
She is not actually from Paris - although she is tres chic, not to mention one third of the design collective behind fashion label Être Cécile. “It's fake French," she laughs. "Our tagline is presque Parisienne, which means ‘almost Parisian'. On our care labels it says, ‘Made somewhere near France…' I think its Portugal?” But more importantly, it's about the quest for the perfect T-shirt.
The concept was born in London (where Sewell, an Aussie, now lives) from a desire to create “a T-shirt brand that’s the antithesis of the typical T-shirt aesthetic.” So forget sloppy. We're talking great cut, firm round neck, cotton that holds its shape. "We borrow the silhouette from the boys," says Sewell.
Simple? Sure. But also iconic - think James Dean, Marlon Brando, the 1960s Beats poets.
“We began with wardrobe staples: the perfect T-shirt or sweatshirt,” says Sewell, adding that the range has now expanded to include more than 300 styles, from jackets and dresses to skirts and shirts. It's epitomised by Sewell's own faultless fusing of tomboy cool and high-end glamour. “The vibe is half streetwear, half sportswear, then we add humour – and our little Parisian twist. We like fashion that can be dressed up or down.”
That's her secret, right there.
Whether she's in a sharply cut ACNE coat or a whimsical Isa Arfen dress, Sewell always looks effortless. She doesn't wear a lot of makeup, she's never lost that down-to-earth Aussie smile.
This interview takes place when Sewell is back in Sydney to launch Être Cécile in Myer. She's wearing bashed up Levi’s with one of her brand's Breton striped T-shirts – red, rather than navy, and white – bearing the slogan, 'La vie Parisienne’. “You can never go wrong with a stripe,” she grins.
Actually, Sewell never goes wrong with any fashion thing. From her early days in London as a window dresser for Browns and running her own influential boutique, Yasmin Cho, through co-founding of Moda Operandi, and lending her fashion vision to Liberty London, her CV is impressive. Add her recent appointment to Style.com (she's their fashion director) and it all adds up to fashion fabulous. No wonder Être Cécile is a hit.
“It’s not just me!” she's quick to point out. She credits her husband Kyle Robinson as the “creative genius behind the brand”, and co-founder Jemma Dyas as its “driving force”. The whole endeavour, says Sewell, is a collaboration.
So how will Sewell be wearing her T-shirts this season? "Whether it's with a Céline skirt," she says, or trackpants or jeans, my style aim is to elevate the everyday.”
To which, we say a resounding oui!