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October 19, 2016

Elizabeth V’s sophisticated sleepwear

Locally-made, high-end loungewear is coming to Adelaide Fashion Festival.

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  • Words: Sharmonie Cockayne
  • Pictures: Joshua Fanning

So much of what makes Elizabeth V special is in what its founder, Helen Heithersay, would rather not have published.


Elizabeth V will take part in the Adelaide Fashion Festival’s ‘Runway 3: New Classics’ this Friday. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Helen’s rich history as a local retailer, decision to pursue fashion design rather than embark on a Masters Degree in History, and long-found connection to charity work layers the business with a modest humility so often disassociated with the fashion industry.

Elizabeth V is, in essence, a luxury sleepwear label. In saying that, it’s important to point out that sleeping is not the only thing that the designer envisages the garments be used for.

“You can do with these garments what you wish. You could sleep in them, you could wander around the house, you could wear them out,” says Helen, “and that’s where I want to be.”

Though ‘luxury loungewear’ is perhaps the more appropriate label, the origins of the business came from one simple sleep-related idea: Helen could not find nice sleepwear for the older age group.


“When I asked some friends, they too had the dilemma. They didn’t want to wear those cotton jersey florals that were so meant for women of a certain age – designed for comfort rather than any other aspect,” says Helen.

“Some market research showed that there wasn’t much available in Australia that was of a certain quality, that looked stunning, and would last. I didn’t want garments that were throw away, and I also wanted garments that felt good against the skin, not just the fabric, but also the finish.”

With a decided focus on premium quality fabrics and finish, it took Helen and her team two years to develop their range of designs.

Using silks, cottons and micro modal fabrics and finishing the garments with soft French seams (“which give a longevity to the garment and feel better against the skin”), the range is hand made between three South Australian workrooms. All of the designs are sold online, and through the King William Road shop front, which was established after a short but successful stint as a pop-up shop.

“[The pop up shop] was a very good way of introducing people to the feel of quality fabrics,” says Helen. “It took on a more personal image by having that pop up shop, and that’s why we thought maybe we’ll look for a more permanent space where we can combine a working space with a retail space.”


Continuing to move from strength to strength, Elizabeth V will be participating in the Adelaide Fashion Festival for the second time this year.

“Being in the AFF last year, I thought ‘golly gosh, what can I offer?’ In fact, it was fantastic,” says Helen. “Meeting so many young designers – their work is so clever, and to think they are staying [in Adelaide].”

Elizabeth V’s new range of 20 garments will be showcased alongside designers such as AclerNaomi MurrellGood StudiosSylvy Earl and The Daily Edited in the Adelaide Fashion Festival event ‘Runway 3: New Classics.

While the runway event will focus on textiles, relaxed tailoring, accessorising and architectural details, the new Elizabeth V collection will encompass an array of design aspects that celebrate a decided departure from sleepwear.

“We’re doing a wide leg pant, we’re doing a cullotte, we’re doing some little cami cuts, textiles and patterns,” says Helen.

A print will also be introduced, which is a first for the label. Collaboratively designed and produced in Melbourne, the print (dubbed ‘Venus’) is inspired by Botticelli artworks. Our photographer was under strict instruction not to photograph the print, but we can disclose that it’s a good one – true to form, and very glamorous.

So we guess you’ll need to go and see it for yourself – but we can promise that it’ll be worth the effort.


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