Isabell Decker, Senior stylist for an online fashion shop
Ever since I was a child I’ve known I wanted to work in the fashion industry. So after graduating from high school, I immediately enrolled in fashion school to do a degree in fashion design. Having completed two internships in design, I managed to land a job as a design assistant in a fashion company. After being at the company for a year I was promoted to designer and put in charge of my own department. During this time I also began my blog; on the one hand, as a personal, creative output, as this was still missing in my time as a designer, and on the other hand because I wanted to prove that fashion and style have nothing to do with dress size. After spending 5 years as a designer I decided that it was time to try something new and look around in other areas. When the opportunity arose to work as a senior stylist within my company, I took it without hesitation. That was a year ago and I have no regrets.
If I were a piece of clothing, I would be...
Probably a blazer. A blazer has all the qualities that I embody with my style. It is gender neutral, clean and modern, sophisticated and elegant. Plus, it is incredibly versatile and can be combined with everything.
What inspires you at the moment?
The collection I am developing together with navabi. My full-time job takes up most of my time and energy, so my blog has suffered recently. I usually don’t have much time to work on the projects I would like to. Being able to create something of my own, that I can put my heart and creativity into, and possibly reach others with, is a wonderfully inspiring experience.
What do you associate with the term “plus size”?
For me, the term “plus size” is merely a word describing the circumference of a body. I find it neither negative nor positive. I know it’s a term that has created some controversy but I see the term as rather neutral, similar to the terms chubby, curvy or fat, and don’t give it too much attention. I think the problem is that people tend to give adjectives a rating. For instance, being chubby is seen as something negative, while being skinny is something extremely positive. I think we should see such terms as what they are: words that describe a feature, without any judgement. We can choose what we find beautiful individually for ourselves.
Of course, I would also like it if we lived in a world where there is no distinction between people with different features, or if labels would simply offer clothes in all sizes. But implementing that is not so simple and will probably never take place in this way. And thanks to such terms as “plus size”, I can find the clothes that fit me. Just as shorter people look for “petite” or taller people look for “tall”. Only that these words, mostly, don’t have a negative aftertaste.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t think it’s easy to sum up my style. I can’t really give myself a label because I don’t represent either one or the other. This is because my fashion taste is so diverse and always changes with the times. Still, I think the basic essence of my style is always the same. So my look, whether it is sporty, elegant or playful, is always clean, refined and modern.
What would you change in the fashion industry?
Even if a lot has changed in the last few years, we still haven’t arrived where we could be. Fashion options in the plus size industry are simply not comparable with what’s on offer for regular sizes. I think this is mainly due to the fact that in our society being fat is still regarded as a condition that needs to be fixed. This leads to people with large sizes being tempted to conceal their bodies or to dress as flatteringly as possible. I think, only when things change in the minds of everyone, and when larger people demand more on-trend fashion, then something fundamental can change.
How would your friends describe you?
I think my friends would describe me as a very open, loving person who laughs a lot and is almost always up for having fun. But they might also say that I am an utter perfectionist and can sometimes be a bit silly with it. I suspect anyone who has worked with me will have noticed that I like to specify the tone and when I have imagined something specific then it must turn out that way.
What advice would you give to the thirteen-year-old you?
must say I had the good fortune of not being a victim of bullying as a child or teenager. I think that is mainly because I have always been very self-confident and open. I have never allowed my weight to distinguish me from others. I have never made my figure and my appearance a subject, and I have always been very popular with those around me. However, there was always an inner conflict within me. Although I always seemed self-confident on the outside, I often wondered what others really thought about me. This later went so far that I thought I could never find a job in the seemingly superficial fashion industry due to my weight. As it turned out, this was all nonsense of course. This is what I would say to my younger self:
Just be yourself and carry the self-awareness that you embody outwardly so beautifully as well as in your heart. Don’t waste your time thinking about what others think of you. There will always be some who like you and some who don’t. This is normal and completely okay. Always remain faithful to yourself and don’t try to change to suit others. You are perfect just as you are and whoever doesn’t recognise or appreciate that should not be in your life anyway!
How would you describe your collection?
My collection is a symbol of modernity, minimalist elegance and playful details.
What is the look and feel of the collection?
The look of the collection is designed to give the wearer a sense of self-assurance and powerful charisma. When we feel beautiful and powerful this will radiate, and that's what my collection is all about.
Why did you choose these designs?
My collection includes all the elements that I like so much about fashion. It is minimalist, clean and elegant, but at the same time also playful and rich in detail. It’s basically everything I search for in vain when I’m shopping, with a few exceptions. All the individual pieces can be combined in many ways because they are timelessly modern. They can also be combined wonderfully together and integrated into your existing wardrobe.
What is your favourite new season trend? And what are your favourite brands?
For me, it’s always difficult to choose a favourite trend, mainly because I enjoy a lot of trends and never lose sight of my taste for clean and minimalist design. For this reason, trends which can be combined well with minimalist pieces probably inspire me the most. At the moment, for me this is everything that has ruffles, layers or voluminous sleeves. In combination with clean, fitted pieces the look becomes really modern and chic. My favourite brands are always Manon Baptiste, Elvi and Eloquii.
About the collection
The trouser suit
The trouser suit is - without question - my signature piece. It unites everything that I’m looking for in fashion: it is strong and powerful, it is minimalistic but still exciting and it is both casual and business-friendly. Plus, you can also dress a suit up or down depending on how you feel. For me, a good-fitting suit is the one piece of clothing that every woman should have in their wardrobe. So I could not leave one out of my navabi collection. The casual double-breasted cut with lapel in grey grid pattern is reminiscent of the power suit of the 80s which is currently returning to the fashion world. Combine the suit with the lace top and heels to give it a feminine, sexy touch or with a slim-fitting roll-neck and flat lace-ups for an adrogynous look.
The lace top
This deep lace insert top is a must-have for every wardrobe. It combines simple elegance with the versatility of a basic top. I like to wear it as a feminine contrast to the otherwise rather boyish look of the suit. But it can also be worn under a jumper with the lace making an appearance at the jumper’s neckline. This adds a certain style to every jumper with a more dressed-up look. Another way to style the top is to wear it underneath a shirt or a tightly-fitting roll-neck, just like you would with a lingerie top.
The maxi dress
Those of you are following my blog will probably know that I don’t often wear dresses. This is mainly due to the fact that I don’t like most plus-size dresses. They’re too playful, too old-fashioned and usually designed to conceal the curvy body. So now I have seized the opportunity to design a dress that is both exciting and simple. It’s minimalistic, modern and timeless and can be worn on any given occasion. The on-trend satin adds a floaty shape to the otherwise rather plain dress, while the high-cut slit and deep back cut-out with lace insert ensure the perfect touch of sexyness. On festive occasions, I wear the dress with glittering heels and striking earrings. In the office, I combine it with a blazer, waistbelt and ankle boots. In everyday life, I wear the dress with a coarsely-knit jumper and flat boots, so it looks like a long satin skirt.
If you were to ask me which trousers you need this season my answer would be: high-waist carrot trousers. The wraparound look with metallic D-ring buckle adds a refined detail to your look. The trousers are not only super fashionable, but they also form a great silhouette and are very comfortable to wear. You can dress them down with a casual jumper or wear them in the office with a blouse and blazer. I like to wear them with the white blouse from the collection and I tuck in loosely into the trousers.
The blouse with sleeve detail
For me, the sleeve accent is the most exciting detail in the fashion world at the moment. Flounces, lacing, ruffles – they make an appearance in almost every collection. There was no doubt for me that I’d like to feature a blouse with voluminous sleeves in the collection. Together with the navabi designers, I chose a style with a drawstring. This detail adds a super striking touch to the blouse because you can change the volume depending on your preference. For me, it’s the perfect match for the modern wraparound trousers which form a very modern look together and can be rounded off with the checked coat. But the blouse can also be stylishly combined with your favourite jeans, turning your everyday outfit into a real statement look.
A statement coat does not only belong in every wardrobe and in every collection. It also belongs to me. I love jackets and coats, especially those that have a similar androgynous look as a trousers suit have. Woolly fabrics, lapel collars and cool checked patterns are simply a must, and all this can be found in this piece. This coat adds style to all those simple outfits and brings a touch of joy to every grey day. The tonal colourfulness is not only very sumptuous, but also makes it easy to combine the coat with casual jean looks. Plus, it has been designed so that it can be combined with all the other pieces from the collection. Complete the look with the wraparound trousers and white blouse for an everyday outfit that can also be worn at the office. Wear it over a dress for a warm and elegant piece that offers modernity and comfort. As a highlight, it can also be casually slung over the shoulders when wearing the trouser suit.
About the design-cooperation
I would never have dared to dream of designing my own collection. That I was able to design my collection with navabi is definitely a dream come true. I was already aware that navabi is the only label that recognises and addresses the desire for on-trend, high-quality clothing for plus-size women. The fact that our collaboration in this collection was so simple, inspiring and full of understanding was the so-called cherry on top of my dream come true. The navabi team is not only incredibly committed to the customer, but also to the product, so it was a huge pleasure for me to develop this collection together with them. It is definitely a collection from great women for great women.
Inspiration for the collection
The opportunity to design a collection that meets your own vision is a great honour. So my inspiration for this collection was to conceive garments that reflect all that is missing in the plus-size fashion industry. I want lovely details, on-trend cuts, pieces that add fun to the fashion – everything that is offered to regular sizes but often denied to plus-size women. I wanted a collection that could be combined together, as well as integrated into your current wardrobe. Pieces that are on-trend, yet timeless, which are comfortable, without having to lack in modernity. My collection is designed to delight fashion-lovers and to carefully approach women who haven’t dared to be fashionable for a long time.