In recent years personal growth has become a big part of the zeitgeist. And to aid our current obsession around personal development are never ending options of clothing we can purchase to become the person we want to be.
What says personal growth more than the evolution of your style over the years? From patterned leggings and Primark plimsolls in my teens years to straight leg trousers and Clarks now, for me clothes have been transformative as I’ve moved from one stage of life to another and developed in all areas of life. But how many brands are really trying to help their customers on this never-ending journey of self development rather than just selling them more stuff?
In this interview I had a chat with Lula Laora, the emerging fashion brand that is all about self expression, growth, and being a part of your personal style evolution.
Lula Laora has always been about fashion and moved to the UK from Switzerland to study fashion design at internationally renowned fashion school Central Saint Martins. From there, Lula Laora launched her eponymous label in 2018 with eccentric, over the top, statement pieces and an environmentally conscious attitude to the clothing she makes.
Read on for how Lula Laora approaches being part of her customers’ metamorphosis.
You went to CSM, how was that?
I finished the equivalent of A-levels here in Switzerland and then I knew pretty much when I was like 14/16 that I wanted to go to CSM. I heard someone say ‘oh you like fashion? well this is the best school in the world’, and that’s all I needed to know, I was like this is where I’ll go.
What I really loved the most there was the independence you had, and how much you were pushed. No one was losing time trying to be too nice or too this, it was just straight to the point. Yeah this is good, no you should work on this, this is bad, okay push this, and that worked amazingly for me because I felt like okay everything is very straightforward and it is you that has to go and work on yourself, and I feel the more you try to find solutions on your own, the more you get out of it basically.
So the idea behind trying to evolve with your customer, really comes as well from my personal experience and what I saw that my friends experienced and pretty much everyone around me.
During your whole life, we have like our personalities, our character, and there’s a base that pretty much will stay there our whole life, but so many different things will change. When you’re a young adult you can be super into vintage things, retro movies, obsessed with photography and this will impact super highly your style, how you behave, how you walk, and I feel this will evolve all your life. Maybe 5 years later you’re into something completely different. You change countries so you dress differently, depending on the weather on the environment.
Can I just say I see that you are really influenced by movies, you have a lot of movie references – do you have a favourite movie?
Yeah, top one is the old version of Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. Oh my god, my mum always says when the VHS was finished I would sit in front of the TV and say again! Again! Still today I really enjoy watching it.
What I like so much is the decor feels really real and actually in the room where they can eat the candy most of it was actually real.
So all those influences, for me it was important to embrace them, when I was younger, today and in the future. All those tastes in different things, culture I would learn about, communities I would meet, all those things, there was always something I could take with me and absorb. It could be jewelry, it could be a t-shirt of a movie and you just want to make a statement that you like that movie or artist, it could be a pair of shoes that would be vintage. I feel there are little things like this, that for me are actually the most important ones. There are those details that are so personal, that will make the difference, and will make your whole style unique.
So how I translate this whole thing in the whole brand is if you look at the collection or one of the shows, the image is quite strong, it’s quite bold, it’s quite eccentric. Maybe the first thought would be oh wow, super eccentric, I love it, not sure I could wear it, or something like that. But the second you look a tiny bit more into it, you look piece by piece or if you go on the website and you see, let’s say a top on a white backdrop, I think you start to see how versatile the pieces are and how easily you could pair it with something in your wardrobe first of all. But also you could wear it for so many different events, and I really think that’s one of our biggest strengths at Lula Laora, is how all those pieces together can make a super strong impact, mega statement look if that’s what you wish to go for. But also one piece can just say enough for what you need to say today, for how much your personality or character feels like saying today. Then it’s with this one piece that you’re going to pair with what you already have, with other brands, with other things you like, and this for me is the mixing, the joining histories, the joining different creatives, this is where for me the whole beauty gets created.
What’s the key element to some of the pieces you make?
The way that I work before we start making or before we start the patterns, I have a pretty clear drawing and I like my drawings to be very detailed, show all the buttons, and I think this is probably the key. Once I’ve researched everything, played a bit with twirling or just a bit of fabric and basically sort out the main vibes, I go then for silhouettes. I go then for volumes. Once it starts lining up I edit down a few things, and edit down more, and edit down more to really keep the best things and this is what will most likely not change as much.
The Lula devil emblem – what does that represent for you?
So it’s very funny this story, because it only came with the last collection, the autumn/winter 21 we did. I’m a really really big fan of the era of the Commedia dell’arte, all the history of the Italian Commedia dell’arte. Why? Because it’s the theatre it’s funny, they have all those characters, the Pierrot, the Clown, and then Colombina, Arlecchino, and all the mask costumes, the history they have is just so infinitely rich, associated with Venice all of that and I’ve basically just been fascinated by this whole time period.
Going back to the making of the autumn/winter, I was looking at little drawings that I could do or add or little characters that would suit with the research we had and I came across an image. It was an advert for Chimney cleaning in France. It was this little devil with a red face and I said there is something that really speaks to me because he looked nice, but you know when someone looks nice but then you’re like there’s a little something a bit wicked in there you know?
I thought that was very fun and I just let it sit for a few days and then I thought I would just make a drawing on my own inspired from that reference and so I drew this little evil lady, and then I thought she should be the logo because there’s so much in there that’s very representative of what I like, there is a bit of this like Harlequin side, devilish but then really fun. It’s funny because I have a tattoo of a Harlequin myself and it’s after seeing the drawings, and seeing it printed that I thought it just connects with so many things in my life, that I think it should become the logo.
Right now your brand is just online – In the future do you think you’d want to have a physical store that you can connect with your customers in or whoever wants to be part of the brand?
I would love it. I’m also someone when I do a presentation I really like for everything to have a strong story. Simply because everything does have a strong story, that is interesting for me. When I did the launch of the brand two years ago, I organised a physical event. Instead of models I had 11 actors wearing the clothes and I created different rooms. Each room had a different story and each room was designated for one actor, and each actor had a character I had written on a script, and it was an interactive event to show and tell how much I like to connect with people, and for people to experience something physically. I had a pop up shop in my first year as well in Shoreditch for a week that was so much fun, I really enjoyed it.
What has your personal and professional growth taught you since launching your brand?
I learned a ton about admin, I’m the perfect secretary for anything that’s administrative because you have no choice but to be on it. Second thing is to just absolutely never give up because if you don’t have that will in you, and fight, it’s just not going to go far. It’s such a competitive industry that you need to be okay with criticism, you need to be okay with this whole package of the reality of starting something on your own. It’s also a lot of self-questioning, I doubt myself very often, then I’m super sure of what I’m doing, then I love what I’m doing and that’s just part of the process as well and it’s something you need to embrace 100%.
Lula Laora’s latest collection Poison Ivy is out now – keep up with them here
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