WTALENT: TEIJA EILOLA
After working alongside fashion designers Michiko Koshino and Ted Baker, and being mentored by Christopher Bailey, Teija Eilola went on to make a name for herself, establishing her eponymous label TEIJA in 2012. Her very first collection debuted at Fashion Fringe and London Fashion Week later that year. We caught up with Teija to discuss her signature collections and Finnish background – among other things.
What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
I was fascinated by the possibilities of fabric. The further I studied the more interesting and fun it became to explore ideas through sculpting and manipulating materials and realizing the designs.
Which is the main source of your inspiration and how has your Finnish background contributed to it?
I often look at practical things for inspiration, like construction of an old military bag or medieval embroidery techniques. I like how function can be studied and then developed into something more than just ordinary use. Imagination will need to take you to the next level to make the pieces about something unordinary.
Coming from the arctic circle made me really appreciate a beautifully cut wool coat. So, at first I wanted to acquire skills in traditional tailoring. Now I work also across silks and cottons and try to create the same excitement but in pieces that are versatile.
Tell us a few words about your AW 14-15 collection.
The collection was inspired by my grandmothers wedding dress. It was black. I thought it seemed a little perhaps too ordinary to wear black, but my grandmother disagreed. For her black represented elegance and height of occasion. It made me see differently her era in the late 40’s and how the kick off of moon race and war time fashion created some new aspirations to women. The huge potential in the future through space fantasies, the statuesque first female pilots in their uniforms and the darkly chic black brides.
After the years you’ve spent working in fashion alongside renowned designers, in what ways do you feel you have you grown?
Working with somebody with great skills in design is a privilege. It is the best way to learn, and there are times you can draw from when you are working on your own. Most recently, being mentored by Christopher Bailey took my skills to a new level. He showed me what it is like to be a creative director of a big brand like Burberry. He would see a good idea and make it a brilliant idea.
When I was a graduate, I loved every piece like they were the whole collection; and this is a good way to approach your first design job. Now I spend more time thinking about the moods and themes and pulling the different ideas together into one expression.
How is working for yourself different and what are the challenges you face mainly?
Working for yourself requires clear future plans and strong design philosophy. You do not have time to switch off and just let others do the work. But it also is really rewarding in terms of how many incredibly inspiring people you come across and all the little exciting projects you get pulled in.
Which is the most valuable piece of advice you were ever given?
Recently somebody sent me a letter reminding me to follow my heart with whatever I was doing. It is very important to try to find you story and believe in it and concentrate on what you are good at.
You are currently designing clothing. Have you ever thought expanding your line?
I love accessories, so sometimes I add a few pieces in to the range if it fits in the collection.
What is your favorite fabric to work with?
I have worked a lot with French chiffon so it has become a little speciality.
Does your personal style affect your designs?
My design aesthetic is very close to how I dress in the way I like women to feel at ease in their cloths. Enjoying the feeling of luxury of a fabric is what makes me excited. My personal wardrobe is mostly built from the designs in my collection, passed and new with mix of other pieces collected on the way.
What are your future plans?
Simply put, to collaborate, contribute and enjoy the London fashion culture.
Images courtesy of Teija Eilola