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The name Sasson was synonymous with designer-jean chic in the Seventies and better casual in the Eighties, but 2014 could be its year for a new categorical association: advanced contemporary sportswear. Elle Sasson, the 25-year-old daughter of Sasson Jeans and Kikit creator Maurice Sasson, is charting new territory with her own label. Launched as a capsule collection for spring, fall marks her first full lineup, comprising dresses, tops, bottoms and outerwear.

This story first appeared in the March 27, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Going into design was a foregone conclusion for the younger Sasson, who was born in New York City and moved with her family to Hong Kong at age five. Raised between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv, Sasson studied fashion design in the two cities and then interned for Alice + Olivia and Derek Lam in New York.

“I always knew I wanted to be a designer, but I didn’t think I’d start my own brand so quickly. I had planned to work for another company first,” said Sasson, who is now based in Hong Kong. But with easy access to Chinese fabrics and factories, she created her first collection, inspired by Ed Ruscha’s art book “A Few Palm Trees,” in less than a month and sold it to Bergdorf Goodman, followed by Neiman Marcus, Intermix and Shopbop. “Hong Kong is a very comfortable place to work because everything is within close reach,” she added. 

Her fall collection was inspired by a photograph of an iceberg in Iceland, from which she created a print for her starting point. She worked it into both red and blue palettes on minimal and Mod-inspired silhouettes. From there, the singer Björk became her muse. “I love her ethnic, fun and cute style,” said Sasson. Thus she worked a penguin print and traditional Icelandic-style embroidery on poplin and sateen dresses and wool sweaters, and also featured several mohair and alpaca jackets. Wholesale prices range from $102 for a simple top to $1,120 for an embroidered dress. In addition to her U.S. doors, the line sells in Boon the Shop in South Korea, AlOthman in Kuwait and Stylebop in Germany.

Sasson herself says she prefers to wear casual black clothes with flat shoes, so her collection is aspirational: “In a way, I design clothes for the woman I’d like to be, with pieces that someone can wear every day.” She chooses to sketch alone behind closed doors and with music playing, but when she’s finished, she looks to her father for advice. “He sees stuff that I don’t really notice,” Sasson said. “He might suggest a top stitch instead of a clean finish, that I fold a hem wider to give the dress a different fall, that I make the waistband an inch wider or that I change the size of the zipper teeth to raise the quality of a jacket.” The elder Sasson, who these days travels to China frequently for consulting work, is also backing his daughter’s company.

Armed with feedback from both her father and retailers, Sasson has plans to add more knits for her next collection, for resort. Needless to say, denim is also on the docket.

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