Founded in 2011 by Yuka Izutsu, LA-based brand Atelier Delphine focusses on providing premium loungewear for the contemporary women's wardrobe. Emphasising a feeling of casual sophistication, the brand's collections often lean into neutral colours, textured fabrics and loose, unconfined silhouettes.
Hi Yuka! We are so excited to be your new stockist here in the UK. For those who aren't familiar, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to start your brand?
I moved to the US after my college studying philosophy in Kobe, and attended FIDM for graphic design. I was always passionate about fashion (in reality I worked for Jill Stuart in Japan for retail sales for a short period of time) but I was under the impression that it’s too late to start learning fashion design at the age of 25.
After FIDM, I realized graphic design was not for me, and i went to Art Center College of Design for painting / sculpture. When the recession hit, I took the term off and started working at the family owned maternity / baby clothing brand.
At the same time, my sculpture was intensely gravitated towards the fabric based, and the teachers told us my color sensibility is quite special and different from conventional way of placing colors.
As the recession’s aftermath intensifies, my boss started teaching me every aspect of her business, from cutting the sample fabrics, how to work with the patternmaker, going to the factory as the production manager, issuing the PO etc. I basically ran her business and she was working really busy with other jobs.
However, it was too tough for her to survive and I left the company. When I left, I day-dreamed about my ideas but had never thought of starting a brand.
But the times came one of the sample makers called me and i told her my ideas and just chatted with her, and then she made 3 samples for free.
She told me this is celebration of new start. So I showed 3 samples to my early adaptors and they started placing orders for all styles. I never thought my life comes this way - but I think my passion for philosophy and fashion never ends, and subconsciously living in my mind all the time.
Once I wanted to become a fine artist, and so my approach to the collection is quite artistic way than the fashion. (For example, choosing the texture of fabrics is the most priority)
Originally, you studied world literature and poetry in Japan, then changed paths towards fashion once moving to LA. How has the transition from Japan to LA influenced your designs and way of thinking?
Moving out of Japan was the strongest will for me back then… Japanese culture felt too tight for me and was looking for a way to become authentic “me” - Finding your own authentic self is very difficult anywhere, but I think moving out of origin country has helped me organize myself. I highly recommend for anyone lost soul! When you grow up and stay in one place, your brain is accustomed to the underlying element of culture and stuck very hard to yourself, even though you did not like it.
A lot of people feel the same way, but they don’t know what they are… But since I came here, I slowly came to think I can just live the way I am, and people still like me. I guess I was too scared to be vulnerable in Japan. Or maybe I was scared about what other people judge me for not following “kata” and formality. I am still figuring out but I know I am more comfortable and confident now.
I chose LA just because it was the closest western culture that I can experience and wanted to get time alone. In LA, everybody is more independent and live far away from each other. There has to be many with driving culture, but I needed it around that time. I am usually more like a city person, liking gallery and museum visits, fancy restaurant, etc, which I miss a lot for a long time. I have been dreaming about moving to NY now, and I frequently fly between NY and LA (and Peru) which leads to feel more free to me.
So, to put it simply, I think I am just going back to the way I originally am after moving from Japan.
It seems like craftsmanship and tradition plays a key role in your designs. How do you ensure your designs encapsulate tradition as precisely as possible?
Craftmanship is always the fascinating part of my business, and all of my team members are fascinated with what our artisans can do. We appreciate what they can do, and work in the as best way as possible.
Traditions vary in areas or countries, and they embrace it with much intention, so I try to listen to them and examine all of these before working with the factories overseas. I have to be careful to not ruin what they do unknowingly.
When designing a collection, is there a certain process you follow?
I set the annual calendar to make the collection flow season by season, and can use the fabrics the most ecologically this way. Setting theme for a season, and make the collage of the ideas, either visually or literally, and I set a few words. 23PS’s words that we are working on making samples now are “Dreamy”, “Organic meets Calculation and Geometric”, and Gabriel Orozco’s way of thinking and his art.
My ideas come vaguely, so it is hard to identify at first, but letting it sit and put more ideas into it as the times goes by makes great density of this originating idea. Still I struggle, though. How can I make this more of what I am thinking about? Any elements to add or subtract? It’s very intuitive process and I trust my gut while I research a lot. I don’t like discipline, and I let the idea flow.
I am extremely lucky to have my small but mighty team here in LA, NY and Peru. They have such great fashion sensibility, and are sophisticated strong force I would describe. We work as closely as possible even though we live remotely, and try to visualize the best we have, to share what we are specialized at.
We love the simplicity and technical details of your designs. If you could describe your most recent collection in a few words, what would they be?
Fragile and strong. Free Spirit and Experimental. Dreamy. (But, in the end, the collection is easy wearing pieces for everyday! )
Are there any pieces that particularly stand out to you from the most recent collection and if so, why?
I really like Haori Coat and Kimono Jacket 5 layer gauze, and as well as Kiri Pant with Gingham Patch! Gingham Patch that I used for this was the fabric from 10 years ago… so it has the original AD element, and the supplier discontinued the fabric at some point. I am really glad you have them! I also like crinkled cupro, which we will dig deeper going forward. They make effortlessly dressed up look, and the shininess of the fabrics are on a good level. (Good amount of shine, good amount of matte i try to describe)
For the aspiring designers out there, what advice would you give them on starting their own brand?
Don’t give up. It takes time for the designers / directors to get ripen, but if you work hard and collaborate with people that understand you, the time will come.