Chèlbè is a fashionably tall clothing line that caters to women 5’9 and up. The name comes from a creole word that means elegant, chic, or luxurious in dress, style, or design. Chèlbè designer Diana Delva interpreted this concept into a versatile, comfortable, and fashion-forward collection.
Pieces are made to accentuate and accommodate lengthier features with longer inseam, torso, and arm lengths. Some of our best sellers include the three-way jumpsuit, which is a twist on a classic black jumpsuit with asymmetrical cuts and front zipper that you can adjust to wear three ways. Others include the Illusion Palazzo Pant, high-waist flowing pants that have the illusion of shifting shades as you walk, or the simple T-shirt dress that makes a statement “Fashionably Tall.”
When Diana was in middle school, she was already more than six feet tall, towering over most of her classmates. On the upside, this meant that she was a shoo-in for the basketball team. But on the downside, it was hard finding cute clothes to wear. Many of the teen brands that other high school girls wore simply did not fit on her large frame.
Diana went on to play basketball at the University of Hartford, and later, professionally, as part of the European basketball league. That’s when it struck her that many of her fellow athletes had similar gripes: Fashion labels viewed tall women as an afterthought rather than a valued customer.
In college, while on a full athletic scholarship, Diana interned at DSquared2 to learn about the fashion industry. Then, last year she launched her own brand, Chèlbè, which focuses entirely on the needs of tall women. This means creating trousers with bigger inseams and blouses with longer arms, all in the season’s trends. She showed her fall 2017 collection at New York Fashion Week, where she was named a “designer to watch.” She now sells clothes directly to consumers through her website, where she is focused on ensuring that her garments are at an affordable price point of under $80.
As a black woman setting out into the fashion world, Diana doesn’t have very many role models that look like her. But she does take comfort in the fact that black communities have always been very scrappy when it comes to adapting fashion trends to suit their needs. She looks to someone like Dapper Dan, for instance, who realized back in the ’90s that the luxury European designers weren’t designing for the bodies and styles of black people. So, he went out and plastered the logos of Louis Vuitton and Gucci on expensive leather, turning them into bomber jackets and jumpsuits that were a hit with the hip-hop world.
It’s this sense of resourcefulness that inspires Diana not to accept her position as an underserved customer, but to do something about it, even if it means starting a clothing line of her own.
Designer of Chèlbè Diana Delva