In a burst of colour, pattern, and fluidity, Zonda Nellis’ creations bring to mind the heated vibrancy of exotic locales. With a ritzy international clientele that includes such names as Goldie Hawn, Halle Berry and Princess Michael of Kent, the Vancouver-based designer is renowned for her stunning, whisper-light fabrics, bold palettes, and airy, flowing silhouettes.
“When you have an extraordinary fabric, you do very little to it,” notes Nellis. She compares it to using the best ingredients in cooking. Silks and linens are her favourites to work with, with designs often influenced by ethnic and handcrafted elements drawn from her travels.
“Colour always inspires me,” says Nellis, who began sewing at the tender age of five. “Inspiration can also be an architectural detail, it can be a photograph.” Her textile work extends to special-order interior details, such as cushions designed to complement the hand-painted ceilings in a Venetian hotel.
Locally made in Vancouver, Nellis’ collections are available exclusively at her South Granville atelier and store.
“I have worn this for years,” says Nellis of her signature scent, L’Heure Magique by Laura Mercier, with notes of pikake petals and bergamot. Her menu must-haves are Italian burrata and fruity Moët & Chandon’s Rosé Impérial champagne. She adores colorful tulips, and the handcrafted elegance of vintage Karl Stittgen jewellery. Travel essentials include a large cashmere shawl and brightly coloured Benetton suitcases she buys in Venice. “They are lightweight, and I have them in pink, purple, green and orange!” In clothing, Nellis chooses hand-painted linen caftans and the Miro coat from her own collection. A beauty fave is Laura Mercier Stick Gloss in Baked Earth, part lipstick, part sheer balm; and in bags she looks for practicality with a versatile paisley-printed Etro tote. When it comes to architecture, the designer admires the culturally diverse work of Hossein Amanat who is designing her mixed-use Vancouver property. And she’ll never tire of the timeless beauty of Venice, which she loves to explore on foot in her breezy Pollini woven platform sandals.
Photography by Milos Tosic