Inspiration can come from all around you, and that’s certainly true for relief Chief Stew Samara Bishopp, who draws inspiration from the destinations she visits as crew to incorporate into her clothing line, Bellasentie, which features sleep, lounge, beach, and bridal women’s wear. From the white beaches of the Caribbean to the summer evenings of the Cote D'Azur to the depths of the Mexican jungle, she incorporates a bit of each travel experience into her design work, keeping the brand fresh, contemporary, and unique. For the first time in her career, she’s merging her jobs by designing a bespoke yacht women’s wear uniform collection, expected to be ready for the summer season.
Working with the captains, interior crew, and owners, Bishopp was commissioned to design custom uniforms that reflect the yacht’s interior and exterior design philosophy — taking elements of the boat’s design and incorporating them within her dress designs.
The three designs she ended up with are a daywear jumpsuit for tender runs or breakfast service, an evening dinner service dress, and a gown for special occasions. Plus, the jumpsuit and evening service dress are reversible so they each have two different looks and are designed with fabrics that account for daily laundering. This collection is unique to the yacht, down to the details, including the zip pulls on each dress, which are different variations of the yacht’s logo.
While these specific uniform designs are solely for this vessel, Bishopp will offer similar styles to other boats wishing to invest in this sort of project. “My end goal is essentially to design and create unique and boat-specific collections for multiple yachts but never produce in wholesale quantities, as this takes away the exclusivity of the garments,” she says.
“The majority of boat uniforms follow the standard skort and polo ensemble and/or the traditional classic dress,” she says. “While I think these look lovely, I personally think there is a lot of room in the industry for boats to start having something much more exciting, innovative, and personal.”
As a chief stew, Bishopp enjoys the challenge of juggling her yachting career and design work, using her spare time to create and liaise with the London-based tailors who create most of the garments using traditional manufacturing and craftsmanship techniques. Although the Bellasentie brand launched in 2017, it went through a hiatus for a couple years during Covid-19 before being registered as an official business earlier this year.
After seven years of studies and fashion internships with high-end brands, including Burberry and Moschino, Bishopp had the idea of creating Bellasentie when she took time from the fashion industry to return to her hometown in France. While working as a waitress in a local restaurant, she’d use her spare time shopping at thrift stores and then revamping the vintage pieces into bespoke sleepwear sets — designing, cutting, and creating everything by hand on a big oak table in her family home.
“Having opened a London Fashion Week runway show with a never-seen-before weaving textile on a bespoke couture gown, I adopted this texture as my statement style and continue to incorporate the weave in every collection I create,” she says. “From the moment my design was chosen as the opening for a catwalk, I knew that I wanted to have my own clothing line.”
While her long-term goal is to focus on yacht uniform designs, she plans to continue her own designs with her woven hand-crafted cotton textile being her statement. Even today, she hand-crafts it entirely by herself, and the ideas she has for designs that incorporate it are endless.
“The entire process, from the initial design idea to the creation of the pieces, to the photoshoot and mise en place of the imagery on the website, is directed by myself,” she says. “I am insistent on regularly working with trusted photographers, manufacturers, models and tailors in order to maintain the level of excellence that is Bellasentie.”