Sometimes a girl’s gotta think outside the norm if she wants to explore her talents. If Petra Isabelle followed the rules she wouldn’t have discovered her remarkable flair for tie-dye. Through her company Pebelle, Petra creates legwear in a rainbow of hues, producing a world of color combinations and patterns never before seen even in my wildest Pantone dreams. I first saw her work in Emma Bell’s S/S 2010 collection, and was later pleased to find some photos of Dandi Wind from Fan Death sporting some purple Pebelle on her gams. See how everything is connected?
First, let me confess to you something. I never thought I would like tie-dye. An ex boyf once told me he wanted to buy a tie-dye shirt and Phish and Grateful Dead flashed before my horrified eyes so I told him I would break up with him. (Another confession: it actually pained me to have even typed the words ‘Phish and Grateful Dead’ on this blog right now. NO OFFENSE.)
Flash forward a decade and much like my taste buds, my style buds have also evolved. I am into wasabi, cilantro AND tie-dye now, people. Especially if the tie-dye is the gorgeous handiwork of Pebelle. Here is an exclusive lowdown on this lovely lady!
How did you get started designing legwear?
I have studied textile arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. We had dyeing classes once a week and one day we developed the idea of dyeing hosiery. we loved it so much that we had a full weekend workshop. I was the only one that immediately fell in love with it, but the time wasn’t right. I tried placing them on the market years ago (2002) but no one was really interested, but I never gave up.
In 2004 I finally found my label name Pebelle and in 2008 I totally relaunched it and since then I try to set a foot on the market.
Where did you grow up? Did it influence your design aesthetic at all?
I grew up in the suburbs of Vienna, Austria. It’s a town full of beautiful architecture from the monarchy, lots of green but also very modern buildings. I think my aesthetic perception was surely formed through living in such a wonderful town. I was a typical girl growing up the 80’s at the time of the german new wave movement in music plus in style, so Punk wasn’t far away from me. I can’t tell if it influenced me a lot though, I suppose it has in some kind of way. I have a huge interest in contemporary and street art, so every little walk around an area can have an immense result on me. I do take a lot of pics if I see something that’s giving me the impulse to keep it. I am very alert to visual stimulation so I do love to go to exhibitions, movie-theaters, plays, gigs or just stand. Whatever catches my eye.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Everywhere, it surrounds me wherever I am, I inhale natural phenomenas like the way the light is shining on buildings on late afternoons waiting for the blue hour to arrive ( I love it) , the times in fall where all the trees/plants turn in an explosion of yellow and red tones, the grey in grey winter days with sunlight reflecting on surfaces of snow or after a long time of waiting for spring you hold your breath when you suddenly realize that everything is blooming around you. Colours define my life, I think i live in the right city for it.
Apart from this I love watching people, I just sit in a cafe ( a very Viennese thing to do) at a big square and watch people going by, street scenes and street style draw a lot of my attention.
What is your design process?
My design process is in a changing process right now. So far I have worked very impulsive: If I was impressed by the last visit to the forrest I was totally going all greens, browns, natural colours, I remember one day standing in the garden of my friend’s house in LA where leaves suddenly caught my eye, the thin yellow lines within the green leaves. Once back in Vienna I tried this design on leggings. Sometimes I just see a print of a car tire on the road and it inspires me to try it on a pair of tights.
The dyeing process is always a big matter of coincidence too so you aren’t allowed to try to be too much of a perfectionist. The reason why my dyes often look different from typical tie dyes is that I do not follow any dyeing rules, the men I’m buying my dyes from is a master of its kind; he often goes a bit pale when I tell him what I’m doing but he also admitted that he would have never had this effects with sticking to the rules.
Right now I try to work more and more with fix colour schemes. I do more than hosiery now, I started with a line of tops, t-shirts, scarfs and am working on a collection of bikinis.The more I start working with whole outfits, the more I try to avoid this feeling of being overwhelmed. I want it to be possible to wear more of my pieces together in a matching ensemble.
What other artists, clothing designers or otherwise, do you admire?
This could be a never-ending list, it is easier for me to say whose work I do NOT like at all but I won’t do that out of respect.
Designer equals artists in my opinion, I find it hard to draw a line. I think every designer has at least one thing in their collection that I totally love there are thousands of great talents out there and I do not wanna start picking them out. If I have to name one I’d say I love Gareth Pugh, I haven’t seen his graduate collection for Central St. Martin’s but RIGHT AT THE SAME TIME I had a period of two weeks where the thought stuck me that a Pierrot-inspired collection should be done and even I started drawing some sketches, and PENG!: there it was, he did it. For that I love him.
If you could describe your personal style as the love child of any two people/things, who or what would they be?
I probably could imagine I’m a love child of Amélie ( as in the movie Amélie) and Iggy Pop…..yeah, that would be it….
What are your wardrobe staples?
Short dresses in every style, my diesel cowboy boots, necklaces
Do you collect anything?
Oh, dear, yes I do: necklaces, tights (seriously not my own ones), little picture frames from the flea-market – and soon I wanna start on orchidaceous ( i have recently recognized that I do have a hand for them. Once I am old I want to start breeding them…..) My friend works high up in a huge lingerie company, so I do often get little goodies like utterly great 80’s sample tights which never went into production.
Is there a particular decade in history you feel an affinity for?
Yeah, the roaring twenties for their open-mindness and style. My intellectual affinity is more around the changing end of the 19th century, as I do love literature from that time. I once did a series of bags called the 20th-century bags – a trip bag into time – every bag had the same shape but with the choice of fabric, the printed image and the little details each one was matched to once decade of that century. Loved it.
What are your other interests and hobbies?
I have a 5.5 years old son, he’s hard work and joy at the same time, so I kind of see his upbringing as a hobby. I love visiting foreign countries, discovering cities on my own is a great friend of mine, this hobby is just difficult to organize around my other responsibilities. I love doing yoga, reading and grabbing bargains on flea markets or all kinds of sales.
What’s next for Pebelle?
You can find Pebelle at the following!
Pebelle on ETSY: pebelle.etsy.com
Pebelle on DAWANDA: pebelle.dawanda.com
1010 Vienna- Bauernmarkt 8 – ART UP
1050 Vienna – Margaretenplatz 3 – PEPITA (just Children’s and very small selection of
1060 Vienna – Hofmühlgasse 6 – POLYKLAMOTT
1070 Vienna- Kirchengasse 24 – AT FIRST SIGHT
Germany – BERLIN
10245 Berlin- Grünbergerstrasse 83 – EPPO Fashion Concept Store
Wrexham, North Wales- GB
LI11 2 NP Wrexham 80 Rhosddu Road – Coloured Earth Fashion Store
Barcelona – SPAIN
08002 Barcelona Banys Nous, 22 – GLINT SHOP
Norwood, NJ 07648 – 463 Livingston St, #103 – DAHL COLLECTION