Discover the fashion treasure trove that is Novella the Label

In September, 2020, Emily Luvara and Michelle Leng decided that they wanted to make a “treasure trove” of their own to express themselves and share their love of fashion, colour and sparkle in the form of Novella the Label.

Emily and Michelle have been working hard in the Melbourne fashion industry for a very long time; they have a combined 30 years of experience in designing and manufacturing for lots of brands. 

“Our history lies in designing and manufacturing for other brands,” explains Emily. “I am the designer and work closely with Michelle who has run and owned a business for over 20 years. Together we arch the gap between the maths and magic of fashion.”

Both co-founders of Novella studied at RMIT fashion school – albeit with a few years between them.

“I started my design journey with interior design but shifted into fashion because I felt like it gave me more of a hands-on experience with more touch points along the way, and then finally seeing how it can alter people’s moods is satisfying,” says Emily.

“After university I worked in buying for some big Australian retailers then moved to the US to work as a designer, eventually I found my way home and met Michelle.”

The brand’s name means a story or little novel or book, in Italian: “The idea is that our garments will make people feel like they are a star, playing the lead roles in the stories of their lives.”

Launching the brand when they did, Emily admits was a ‘bit mad’, but apart from issues of creating brand awareness, development hasn’t been as difficult as one might think.

“Initially it was a tough time with the world being shut and all but since things have started to ease up the main challenge has been visibility. We use social media as our main tool of communication with our customers and it’s a hungry beast,” Emily explains. 

“Constantly creating content and a unique offering so people notice you has its challenges but we are not short of fun attention grabbing ideas which is why we launched the brand, we had lots of ideas we wanted to see come to life.”

Novella the Label is all about colour, sparkle – think sequin skirts and dresses – and inclusivity. The brand’s sizing starts at 10 and 24 and the designs are deliberately focused on fitting well on curvy bodies.

“Novella is a treasure trove, and within it are memories externalised in garment form. It’s a dress up closet for grown ups. Novella is no place in particular and an evolving story. We are inspired but not driven by trends so our pieces are unique and will live on forever as classic collector pieces,” explains Emily. 

Michelle and Emily are both inspired by Versace, musicians and their customers: “We are constantly receiving beautiful messages about how good our garments made people feel and that always gives me a little boost to keep drawing for them.”

The newest collection Lido Calypso is inspired by disco: “We are looking forward to new and exciting things to inspire us but always giving a nod to nostalgia especially with this new collection.

“I was very much inspired by disco, and the memory of a fun beach party in southern Italy. For this range we have also extended our size offering from 10 to 24.

“[The brand’s aesthetic] is the inside of my head. A kaleidoscope of colours and music. It’s a fantastic, shimmering soirée and everyone is invited.”

As with many designers, Emily and Michelle keep an eye on sustainable considerations, the brand only produces small runs so each garment is a limited edition and the “sizing maths” ensures that items are only ordered and made based on actual numbers so that there is less stock at the end of a collection.

“We don’t really plan out our collections per year too far ahead, so we don’t have an overflow of stock we are committed to. Our fittings are perfect so this means less returns, prototyping, exchanges, packages moving around,” says Emily.

“We use some recycled polyesters and also as each piece is designed from scratch and I am very in tune with what is out there we are not creating more of what already exists, we are really trying to carve out a very unique and niche offering that is necessary.”

As for the long-term goals for Novella the Label, Emily says the brand is an “evolving story” but that they would love to break into the European market.

For more information and to shop Novella the Label, go to novellathelabel.com, and follow the brand on Instagram at @novellathelabel.

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