Hayley Elsaesser SS16: Carnival of Curiosity

The designer channels the sickly sweet with fun prints of poodles, Grim Reapers in bumper-cars and more

Canadian designer Hayley Elsaesser knows how to have fun. In past seasons of her eponymous label (there are only a few, as she just graduated in 2012) you can spot Magic 8 Balls wearing cowboy hats, sunglasses “oozing” slime, unisex neon camo overalls sporting serpents and more. Elsaesser’s upcoming SS16 collection, themed “Carnival of Curiosity,” features the Grim Reaper driving a bumper-car, slushees resembling skulls, plus jacket and trouser sets in shiny cotton candy colors. They’re just what the doctor ordered to jolt tired wardrobes back to life again—especially if you’re in the depths of winter despair.

“It was inspired by a carnival that is lots of fun on the surface, with a bit of a curious and creepy side when you look a little deeper,” Elsaesser tells CH. “This inspiration can be of course seen in the prints: poodles, crystal balls, deadly slushees, admit tickets, and the Grim Reaper patches. I always love to have a little something extra injected in my prints. This collection is no exception; on the surface it is sickly sweet but the creepy subject matter gives it a fun twist.”

“I design clothing to be worn and enjoyed,” says Elsaesser, emphasizing how important wearability is to her. This means using comfortable fabrics and relaxed fits. If your closet is made up of classic sweaters and jeans, don’t be deterred—find inspiration in Elsaesser’s Instagram feed, which shows a diverse array of ages, genders and sizes rocking the looks—even her mom and aunt are featured. “My customer likes their clothes to do the talking for them so they don’t have to say a word,” she continues. “Growing up, I was incredibly shy and used clothing as a tool to express myself and gain confidence. I love how my clothes can be so transformative. When I see customers try my clothes on, you can literally see an instant change. It lifts their mood and gifts an added confidence a monotone outfit would never bring. Clothes should be fun.”

A few Carnival of Curiosity pins, patches and nail-wraps are already available online, but the SS16 apparel is expected roll out late February to early March. While you wait, snag some pieces from previous collections like Heavenly Bodies and Midnight Cowboy (even sweaters for your dog)—now on sale.

Images courtesy of Hayley Elsaesser