—interview by Bianca Betancourt @bybiancabee
Rihanna doesn't simply wear outfits—she wears full blown concepts and creations that exemplify that the art of fashion still isn't dead. When she steps out, the world pays attention and takes notes.
This statement was proved true once again last week, with the debut of her new video with Calvin Harris, "This Is What You Came For" where she had the internet ablaze trying to figure out who designed her discoball-esque jumpsuit the stole everyone's attention.
It was quickly revealed that the said designer was Isabel Hall, a recent (as in literally a month ago) graduate from New York's Pratt Institute. Rihanna's head stylist, Mel Ottenberg, discovered Hall's jumpsuit while attending the university's annual graduate fashion show—but Hall discovered her outfit had been selected after filming for the video had already wrapped. She, along with everyone else, was amazed when the video debuted.
"I didn't know the outfit was going to be in the video until after they had filmed, it it was a total surprise," said Hall. "I went home and I didn’t realize she was premiering the video at midnight, so I wasn't really looking out for it. I went home and I found out when my friend texted me being like “Oh my gosh have you seen this?” and then I was watching and freaking out by myself because it was so exciting."
We spoke with Hall this week to talk more about the inspiration behind her entire thesis collection, the whirlwind her life has been this week and what her new following of fans can expect to come next from her.
How has life been since the "This Is What You Came For" video premiered and every major fashion website is talking about you and your piece?
IH: It's been really funny because I haven’t even been in the city for it—like with my friends or anything—it’s just been what I see online. So that’s been a pretty unique, funny experience and it’s not how it usually would really happen otherwise. But yeah, it’s crazy, I’m really interested to see how it affects me longterm—because everything like this happens so quickly and seems so big and by the next week everyone has seemed to move on. Obviously it’s gotten me so much exposure and I’m just out of college and kind of weighing my options and considering where i’m going to settle myself into the fashion industry and what i’m going to do, so I’m really interested to see how it affects me in that sense.
How did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
IH: I’ve always done design and fine arts my whole life—my family is really artistic so I got a lot of that from them. I would also always do illustration and painting and later photography as well, so i wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do then but I knew it would be something with art. Then in high school I got more into fashion and I always knew I wanted to live in a city and that kind of linked me to Pratt. That was one of the places where I applied and toured and loved it and that was kind of it. I sort of fell in love once I saw the campus and I knew that was what I wanted. I was lucky enough that it worked out.
Your thesis collection as a whole is incredible—it evokes this very New York, urban, gritty yet chic feel. What inspired you to create that aesthetic?
IH: It’s funny that you say that because the collection was mostly inspired mostly by Harmony Korine’s film "Kids" and I’m also really interested in the [concept of] masculine versus feminine. I [took] a class my junior year [regarding] gender, sex, power and how gender roles came through the industrial revolution—which I thought was really interesting and how until today we’re really starting to play with gender. It’s becoming way more debatable what masculine and feminine actually means and it’s not really tied to a gender—I feel like it’s becoming more of an attitude that men and women can both embrace and that’s really interesting to explore right now. It’s fun to watch people get into it also especially in New York City, I think it’s really evident .
IH: I’ve been looking at hyper-masculine sports as well like boxing and football and exploring a lot of the padding and the structure of the masculine form and then playing with that on a woman’s body to create that contrast between masculine and feminine. So for my senior year [collection] I wanted to make it more streetwear, less direct sporty because that’s not totally me and doesn’t totally encompass all of my interests, so I thought how can I do this more casually? So I started looking at 90s skaters and that really loose, baggy, silhouette that’s so, I think, masculine and entitled and has so much attitude—but then sending it to the female figure without losing any of the shape or the bagginess.
It's the most annoying post-grad question to ask but we have to ask it: What's next?
IH: Everything has just ended and I’ve been working on this collection and solely this collection for the entire school year. You’re working on it until the very last second and then you just kind of let it go, it’s done and you just wait to hear people’s reactions and make peace with it and then think well what do I want to do next?
Now i want to work on something else. Especially just figuring out what I want to do and what are my options—I definitely want to keep designing and making pieces and I’m working on a collaboration with a friend right now, just working together and seeing what we come up with. I think collaboration is a great way to learn even more. I feel like I have so much that I've learned this past year seeing an entire collection through to the very end and then looking back, there’s so much that I would do differently and improve on. So I definitely want to keep making pieces, you know not necessarily start my own brand or anything but definitely keep doing things under my own name and seeing how I can make it grow and get done on my own time.
You can keep up with Isabel and her work by following her on Instagram at @iiizziiii or see more of her collection on her website, isabelhall.com. And of course, check out her famous jumpsuit in all of it's glitter glory by watching the "This Is What You Came For" music video, below.