Flyte Ostell

Emily M. Orr

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA063

Richard Ostell and Ellis Flyte founded their fashion label Flyte Ostell in 1991. Ellis Flyte, born in 1958, was the daughter of an Edinburgh architect. She graduated from the London College of Fashion in 1982. She designed for theater, television, and film; most notably she created the costumes for Jim Henson’s movie Labyrinth in 1986. Richard Ostell, born in 1959, graduated from Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design in London in 1982, launched his own label, and worked for a period as senior design assistant to Romeo Gigli. They met in 1984 and later established a showroom together in London’s Camden neighborhood.

Flyte Ostell earned immediate praise for their pared-down basics. The label offered generous silhouettes in tunics, bias-cut skirts, slip dresses, wide-leg trousers, and loose tops. Their palette consisted largely of soft neutral colors as well as indigo blue and black. They worked with luxurious fluid fabrics such as silk chiffon, silk satin, and cashmere. The designers emphasized comfort and eliminated extra details, pockets, and restrictive waistbands. Their first collection sold to a half-dozen stores in London and the United States including Bergdorf Goodman.

In 1992 the duo won the New Generation Designer award at the British Fashion Awards. In October of 1993 they presented their first runway show in London’s Liberty department store. Following a few successful seasons, in 1995 Flyte Ostell withdrew from London Fashion Week. Before their surprising split later that year, they developed a range of clothes for the plus-size clothing label Evans. Ostell then worked for Nicole Farhi and became vice president and creative director of Liz Claiborne (2005–2008). He now runs his own company, Richard Ostell Furniture, which offers the work of a range of craftsmen in wood, ceramics, and glass. Flyte is now the creative director and designer of the Fundu Lagoon Resort in Zanzibar.

Flyte Ostell, Spring/Summer 1994 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Armstrong Lisa. ““The Flyte Female”.” The Independent , 8 March 1992: 8 .

Find in Library Betts Katherine. ““Vogue’s View: London Time”.” Vogue , 1 April 1994: 178–180, 190 .

Find in Library Spindler M. ““Review/Fashion; A Mostly Minimal Look in London”.” The New York Times , 20 October 1993 .

Find in Library Watson Linda. Vogue: Twentieth Century Fashion . London : Carlton, 1999.