Isabel Pabo is an Apulian haute couture brand created by Dalila Palumbo built upon the pillars of passion, craftsmanship, and dreams. Behind the brand, VIA’s contributing writer, Oliver Dahle, discovers a young and talented creative from the town of Molfetta. Palumbo founded the brand seven years ago and has since won several awards for her designs, real works of art that can be worn day-in and day-out.
Tell us about your work.
About seven years ago, still a student, I created my women’s couturier brand named “Isabel Pabo”. My work consists of researching trends and fabrics, in the conception, in the technical design, in the cut, and in the actual making of the clothes, following the ancient and strict sartorial rules.
How did you start your career?
After completing my high school studies as a programmer accountant, I continued in the fashion sector, my great passion since I was a child, at the l’Accademia del Lusso. Initially, I studied at the same time at the Bari University of Economics, but I later left to devote myself entirely to academic studies, my only and real goal, and concluded with full marks.
I embarked on this path by studying and researching various cutting and sewing methods, working alongside professionals in the sector to learn the secrets of this ancient and magical profession. I immediately started working and parading not only in Italy but also abroad in countries like Spain, Finland, China, Taiwan, and Croatia. Thanks to the various experiences that have taken place over the years, I had the honor of being able to represent my country, twice, during “The World Congress of Master Tailors” comparing myself with colleagues and professionals from all over the world.
What is the story behind the brand’s name, Isabel Pabo?
The name Isabel Pabo was born from a family tradition. In fact, my father, who is a painter, signed his paintings with the name of “Nicolò Pabo”. So I decided to continue this tradition, using my middle name, Isabella, the name of my maternal grandmother, alongside the initials and endings of my surname Palumbo, the name of my paternal family. So I created something that would lead back to the two families I come from, to which I am very attached and to whom I owe a large part of the woman I am today.
”I draw inspiration from everything that surrounds me. For example things in everyday life, from experiences, from people, from places and countries I have visited, from the colors of my land and the scent of my sea.”
What does Puglia mean to you?
Puglia for me is home, it is family, flavors, colors, scents, and traditions. Puglia is a harsh but magical land, a rich but undervalued land, a land from which many “flee” to seek a better future. But for me, it is a land that nevertheless gave me that spirit of revenge that binds me strongly to it, that pushes me to fight and believe in my dreams.
What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from everything that surrounds me. For example things in everyday life, from experiences, from people, from places and countries I have visited, from the colors of my land and the scent of my sea. I blend all my moods, desires, and realities to give life to my dreams.
Tell us about your work process…
My work varies according to the occasion and if I work with individuals or on my personal collection. In the first case, I proceed with an image consultation, during which I get to know the client, her taste, the events she has to attend, study her silhouette, and try to perceive her personality. I continue by proposing various types of fabrics based not only on her taste but on what I believe would be most compliant and suitable for her and the same happens with regard to colors. My work is not based only on the external image, but also and above all on the character image. In fact, it is important that the dress not only represents my brand but above all it identifies and exalts the woman who wears it at 360°.
After having carried out the consultancy, I proceed with the search for the perfect fabric and design of the sketches which I subsequently evaluate with the client. Once everything is confirmed, I continue by taking the measurements, performing the technical model, cutting, and assembling the garment for the first fitting. During this phase, I work closely with the client. Often their faces speak and it is easy for me to translate their emotions onto the dress. My work is done by taking care of every millimeter until I think the garment is perfect. The finishing touches are very important to me. A well-made tailored dress is beautiful both externally but above all internally. I consider myself obsessive in attention to detail. In fact my work does not end with the delivery of the dress, because I try to advise and take care of the total look. Studying the make-up, the right hairstyle, the suitable accessories and shoes, and so on. Every little detail is very important to finish my work perfectly and the satisfied smile of my Pabo women is the accessory that frames and makes everything perfect.
On the other hand, when I work on my collections, I start with the search for fabrics that often inspire or support the initial idea of the mood I want to follow. I draw hundreds of sketches to select the ones that best represent me. Then I work on the technical models and continue with the various cuts. Each garment during the manufacturing process continues to be studied, worked, and modified. I spend entire evenings in the “Pabo Home” to view the various garments on the mannequins, to eliminate any defects, or to add that detail that creates the difference. Each garment is the result of hours and hours of work, smiles, tears, and sleepless nights. When a garment is perfect, I can really feel it.
”I create a partnership with my women, since I have learned that a good couturier must know how to respect every body, however it is made, without pretending to modify it but on the contrary to enhance it.”
What can clients expect when working with you?
I love to establish a relationship with each client by listening to their stories. Couturiers are the “confidants” of the clients’ deepest and often hidden insecurities. I try to create a special bond with each of them because they rely on me to take care of their image and create their “second skin”. It is not as important as the first, but it is the only one that we can really determine and decide.
I create a partnership with my women, since I have learned that a good couturier must know how to respect everybody, however it is made, without pretending to modify it but on the contrary to enhance it. I believe this is one of my strengths, the deep respect for my work which indirectly reflects on my clients.
How would you describe your style?
Isabel Pabo has a chameleonic, elegant, sophisticated, and impactful style. The brand is versatile and plays by juggling very feminine necklines and transparencies, changing “drastically” into masculine lines with clean cuts, refined fabrics, ranging from the simplest to the most precious, embroidered or painted ones. Isabel Pabo dresses women and you can immediately recognize a Pabo-woman.
Do you have a dream-garment that you haven’t created yet? If yes, what does it look like?
I have many garments I would like to make and to which I will slowly give life. For example, a dress completely painted and embroidered, a real jewel to have in the wardrobe, also a wedding dress with simple lines made precious and unique by the bobbin work in the back of the dress, and so on. I think there are hundreds of sketches and collections I have done that are ready to come to life.
”I tried in my small way to help out, supported, as always, by my family, who helped me a lot in the production of masks.”
You were making masks during the Covid-19 pandemic – how did you get into that?
The quarantine period was a special and difficult time for a lot of people. I’m used to be working hard and always during the day… Lazy is a word that doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. Forced to be at home like everyone else, I tried in my small way to help out. As always I was supported by my family, who helped me a lot in the production of the masks. I later dedicated this initiative to my grandmother, Isabella, who disappeared during the quarantine. The masks, named ”Bellina”, was my personal and affectionate way of greeting her.
Will you launch a ready-to-wear collection in the future?
I am a practical woman, who likes to take care of every detail in the clothes I create and I will certainly create a pret-à-couture line in the future, but the sartorial imprint is essential for me. The launch of this collection is one of the many goals I have set for myself in my career. But as always for good luck, I will not reveal anything else.
”The quarantine and the last year, have given me the opportunity to reflect, modify, reorganize and give the right priority for many things and this collection will have a lot of ”me” in it.”
What new collections and garments are you working on?
I work daily for my clients and simultaneously on the design and production of the winter collection – a very varied and particular line … I can’t wait to show it. The quarantine and the last year, have given me the opportunity to reflect, modify, reorganize and give the right priority for many things and this collection will have a lot of ”me” in it.
Who is Palumbo Dalila?
I am a young woman with many, perhaps too many, dreams. I was actually reading a quote earlier, ”if we have the possibilities to dream, it is because we have the tools to make them happen”. I consider myself a strong, stubborn, determined woman who does not give up and does not give up easily, a woman with her feet firmly planted on the ground but with her gaze always turned towards the sky. I know the words? sacrifice, dedication, and love for one’s work. I have decided to dedicate my entire life to my work, it satisfies me, makes me happy, and makes me feel alive. Step by step I will achieve all my goals. In life I don’t have a plan B, there is only one plan and it’s called Isabel Pabo.
Contact Dalila Palumbo for private appointments.
On Instagram @isabelpabo/