founder selezza london


Certain people, brands, or other life cases have emerged OUT OF THE BLUE. When taking a closer look, there’s a long journey that lets them walk the path leading to where they are now. Today: the story of ELENA ZAIM, founder and creative director of SELEZZA LONDON. Cover image: courtesy of Selezza London


At only seven years old, Elena Zaim was captivated by the world of dance. Watching dancers endlessly and becoming a dancer (and dance teacher, later on) herself, a fascination for costumes soon developed, too. “It was at 15 that I embarked on a journey of creation, crafting my inaugural dress for a ballroom dance competition. The dress, crafted by hand and stitched with precision, started my love for designing elaborate costumes for performances.” At eleven, another fascination emerged – wedding veils were all Zaim could think of. Witnessing her neighbor’s dedication to crafting these pieces, she couldn’t resist helping. Equipped with sewing skills acquired from her mother, who often tailored her dresses and a knack for utilizing a sewing machine, she started assisting.

It became her initial foray into the art of craftsmanship. “For approximately a year, I embraced orders and collaborated with my neighbor to create an array of veils, each unique in shape and color. Little did I know that this experience would be the cornerstone of my journey with tulle and floral techniques. Even in those early days, a passion for these artistic endeavors ignited me, laying the foundation for the work that would follow.”

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“My journey evolved from being a passionate dancer to a dedicated dance teacher,” the Selezza London creative director explains. “Recognizing the pivotal role that comfort and individuality play in performance attire, I leaped at age eighteen and founded my dance school. In tandem, I established an atelier to craft bespoke dresses for my students, delving deeply into costume design.” Pattern-making formed the next step. “I honed my skills in strategically placed cuts, drawing inspiration from and intimately understanding the female form in motion. While I created costumes for both male and female performers, my heart gravitated towards the boundless creativity that designing for women offered.” The design process created room for imagination and innovation, fueled by a profound knowledge of the female body, particularly in motion. “My expertise in tailoring garments for the moving body, informed by a keen understanding of each student’s personality and stage presence, became the cornerstone of my creative process. I aimed to develop the perfect dress tailored to the physical form, the individual’s character, and how they interacted with the audience.” 

Embarking on a transformative journey after relocating to a new country, she yearned for a shift in her professional path that resonated more closely with Zaim’s passions. Armed with a studio dedicated to crafting ballroom costumes for renowned stars and students, she pulled toward a more personal and accessible experiment. “While I had mastered creating custom-made pieces, my focus shifted. I envisioned an affordable brand for young women who desired the everyday magic and beauty synonymous with stage celebrations. It was then that the idea crystallized—to craft elaborate couture pieces that transcended the confines of the stage and seamlessly integrated into the fabric of our daily lives. This shift marked the start of a venture where the extraordinary met the everyday, creating wearable works of art for the modern woman.”

What has become your primary source of inspiration for Selezza London?

“In 2016, the inception of my brand was driven by a simple desire—to craft beautiful outfits that would evoke delight and smiles. Little did I know about the profound significance it would attain. The turning point occurred when I debuted my creations at an international fair, presenting approximately eighty items. To my astonishment, only three returned home with me.”

“I recognized a desire to expand and share my creative journey with a broader audience. This decisive moment affirmed that the path I was on resonated not only with my interests but also captured the curiosity and fascination of others. People’s reactions to my pieces, how they engaged and communicated, and the unique stories everyone carried drove my creative journey forward. The symbiotic relationship between creator and audience was the cornerstone of my brand’s evolution, affirming that the intersection of passion and genuine connection transcends mere fashion, transforming it into a shared narrative of inspiration and creativity.”

Were you afraid of spreading the word when you started?

“As a sportswoman since childhood, I grasp the concept of failure, the challenges in sports, and the journey to success. The path is never easy, and I encountered numerous hurdles from a young age. Yet, fear never held me back because I was confident in creating something beautiful that would resonate with my audience. I believe that everything in this world finds its niche and audience.”

Elena Zaim

What were the most significant challenges?

“Challenges emerged when introducing the first dress adorned with flowers—a departure from the team’s accustomed work with knits. Adjusting to this new terrain demanded time, yet their dedication and perseverance eventually led to a fusion of craftsmanship and creativity. This marked the initial step where passion, skill, and adaptability converged to lay the groundwork for Selezza London.”

Have you always thought of yourself as a creative director?

“Yes. I became a creative director and artist when I established a dance school at eighteen. Leading a team and working with individuals spanning various age groups, from children to adults, allowed me to refine my approach to bringing out the beauty in people. Having a background in psychology, which I practically applied while working with girls and women, enabled me to motivate and instill a sense of success.”

How would you describe Selezza’s aesthetic?

“Intriguingly, when we launched the brand in 2016, it initially took the form of a mini capsule collection designed for mothers and daughters, tapping into the popular trend of family looks at that time. My vision was to encapsulate everything within it—I aimed for a fusion where adult women and their daughters could share the spontaneity of childhood. The brand’s name, a composite of my daughter Selin’s name, my own – Elena, and my husband’s surname – Zaim, carries a familial essence. In the early collections, I intended to infuse my character and my daughter’s and our family values—love, kindness, understanding, and respect—everything that embodies the feminine energy preserving the essence of family. As the brand has evolved into its current form, it mirrors my state of mind and personality. I’m drawn to movement, dynamics, and vibrancy, qualities that have also been passed on to my daughter.”

Elena Zaim

How do you generate ideas and bring them to life, from conceptualization to execution?

“Primarily, my creative process begins with thoroughly exploring archives, delving into what has already been crafted. I have an insatiable appetite for dynamism and a constant desire to innovate, especially in techniques. The pivotal moment that catapulted our brand’s popularity was the introduction of our first bombers. It was then that I realized I was charting the right course, and our audience, predominantly those seeking to make a statement, resonated with our creations.”

How do your ideas develop from there?

“My focus extended to incorporating vibrancy into colors and execution. The incorporation of voluminous pieces not only ensures our heroine stands out from a distance but also led me to explore the technique of pleated tulle. Drawing from my background in crafting wedding veils adorned with soft flowers, I aimed to infuse these delicate elements into more subdued silhouettes. Texture transformation becomes key; everything takes shape by manipulating the silhouette. I conceptualize the silhouette from the outset and then introduce a play of fabrics. I determine if I can bring that envisioned form to life through cutting, experimenting, sewing, and working on mannequins. If necessary, I add volume to flowers or fabric or introduce drapery. The next step involves translating these ideas onto the computer, where I draw patterns that undergo technical processing before reaching the construction phase.”

What insight or advice has been determinative for where you stand right now?  

“I frequently turn to advice from colleagues and agencies, finding immense value in attentive listening. Having not grown up in the fashion industry, I compensate by immersing myself in podcasts and extensive reading. The counsel that consistently resonates with me is the encouragement to listen to my heart — a compass that unfailingly guides me. When a collection is born from genuine passion, it exudes authenticity, and, for me, authenticity is paramount in the creative process. Despite lacking formal design education or credentials in this field, my accolades in dance empower me.”

Elena Zaim

Is there anything you would like to say to your younger self?

“I express gratitude to my younger self, who steadfastly maintained faith during challenging times, even on the toughest roads. In moments of difficulty, she never wavered in belief — in herself and the creations she was shaping. Through tears and adversity, she stood resilient and continued moving forward.”

What excited you most about the future?

“I’m filled with curiosity about the future for me and the brand. Although I resist the urge to jump ahead, the prospect of the brand’s evolution, the pace of our growth, and the path we’ll tread captivates, excites, and motivates me. It’s a genuine passion that consumes my thoughts and soul, immersing me in the brand around the clock, with brief respites solely for my family.” | @selezzalondon