The twice-yearly Connected Fashion Fest, put on by The Well and The Production Club, is part block party, part sample sale, bringing together some of LA’s most exciting apparel brands, musicians and food trucks. In spite of face-melting heat, all kinds of people showed up to shop, eat and enjoy the festival. And, this being a fashion festival, they were all looking good at the same time.
Luckily, shady tents and the Shave It shaved ice truck helped festival-goers beat the heat. The festival also collected canned goods to be donated to the Los Angeles Mission. Meanwhile, Ironlak created a huge graffiti mural, in addition to having a booth. Clothes were hung up or heaped into bins, but anyone patient enough to sort through the chaos was sure to be rewarded. I snagged a pair of burgundy shorts at Insight, a G.P.P.R. denim shirt and tortoiseshell sunglasses and still managed to have enough change for the bus. Success!
Honestly, the Connected Fashion Festival was fantastic – a very cool event attended by very cool people. Vegas Party People made it a day to remember. And by cool I mean creative and exciting and insanely fabulous. The heat was still awful thanks to LA’s never ending summer, but it was definitely worth braving the heat.
When it comes down to it, I’m pretty outdoorsy, but that’s not about to get in the way of how I dress. When I took my first ski lesson at age five I refused to get out of the car unless my mom allowed me to wear my favorite dress over my ski pants, and I recently climbed a mountain in red jeans and Wayfarers. No zip-off pants for this girl! I love to read about travel almost as much as I love to travel, but I don’t really relate to the hardcore mountaineers or the resort-hoppers. Christine Amorose is a different story. She’s daring, she travels alone, she sometimes lives out of a backpack, but she also writes about what a relief it is to be able to straighten her hair in a foreign country. That I can definitely relate to.
Just skimming through Christine’s travel blog C’est Christine is enough to inspire major wanderlust. Not only does she post fantastic pictures of exciting destinations, but she also offers very level-headed travel advice, including how to pack like a backpacker without looking like a backpacker (perpetual tourists, take note). I managed to catch her in between a stay in France and a cross-country road trip to talk about traveling, writing, and keeping connected.
How did you start traveling?
When I was sixteen I was sent to France to stay with family friends for a summer, and I went over again to study in Paris for a month when I was eighteen. Then right after college I went to Europe for five weeks by myself. Nobody wanted to go with me and I was like, I’m going anyway.
Eight months after I graduated from college I moved to Nice. I landed a job in a gastropub working as an assistant for a cooking class. It was probably the best job I’ve ever had. I stayed there for six months and then I wasn’t ready to go home so I moved to Australia, worked for a Scandinavian furniture company in Melbourne for about ten months, traveled through Australia and then spent three months in Southeast Asia and a month in Europe.
At what point did you start blogging about it?
I started my blog right before I moved to Nice, in April 2010. When I started I had a very simple wordpress.com blog, no pictures and nothing really fancy because it was mostly to let my friends and family know what I was up to. But a lot of my friends ended up reading it and told me I should pursue travel blogging more, so when I decided to go to France I gave it an upgrade.
Do you find that the blog helps you stay connected with your family and friends?
Yeah I do. It makes it a lot easier to keep everyone updated on what I’m doing, although it sometimes gets a bit complicated because when I’m writing about a place I’m not necessarily there anymore. So when my friends and family can get really confused as to where I actually am.
Do you get homesick?
Yeah, I get homesick but overall the way the technology goes, I talk to my parents about the same as I did when I was working in Silicon Valley. I keep in touch pretty easily and now with things like WhatsApp and Viber I can still call and text the same way I would at home. But I’m an only child, I’ve always been pretty independent.
How to you find traveling by yourself?
I love it. If the absolute right person came along to travel with I’d go with them, but if I want to go somewhere or if I want to do something I’m going to do it and I don’t want to wait for somebody to come along with me. I like that I don’t have to compromise with anyone. But at the same time when I was in Europe this past month I met up with a friend in Paris for a week and I had a friend meet me in Croatia and it was awesome to have people there with me.
When did you start traveling by yourself or was that always something you were comfortable with?
Always, a little bit. It really started when I finished University and I really wanted to do a traditional backpacking trip, but I graduated in 2009 right at the height of the recession and I couldn’t find any friends who were willing to take the risk of not going straight into job-hunting, and my boyfriend didn’t have a passport. I didn’t want to give up on that opportunity just because I couldn’t find someone to go with me.
Do you ever get tired of traveling? What keeps you motivated to go new places?
I really like going to new places and setting up, getting a job and getting an apartment and finding a local coffee shop and a grocery store and having that experience. Three months in Asia was more than enough for me, I get burnt out having to constantly carry a backpack. I think it’s hard to sustain constantly traveling. It’s fun and something new every day but it is tiring.
But in the end travel is really fun. It always saddens me that in American only 1 in 5 Americans has their passport. It’s really a shame.
Do you ever find it hard to keep grounded?
Yes, it is. It’s easier for me to be in one place for an interval of time because the act of traveling is stressful. Sometime you have to give up a bit of independence to make sure you’re a bit more emotionally level. Traveling can sometimes be emotionally overwhelming. I had this one experience in Paris where the train to the airport broke down and then I was stuck between two families of crying babies for twelve hours, and when I got back to LA I was just so burnt out. But then again, the vast majority of the time I’m freaked out and then I get there and I don’t know why I was having a breakdown.
Is there anything you like to collect on your trips?
Jewelry is possibly my main thing. It’s something I can buy myself and something that I can justify the space for, there’s always room for another pair of earrings. And when I wear it I’m reminded of the trip.
What’s been your favorite trip so far?
I feel very lucky in that everywhere I’ve gone I’ve really enjoyed, and I would go back to every place in a heartbeat. My last trip was pretty awesome, when I went to Paris, Croatia and Nice. It was nice to go back to some places that were familiar, and then go to Croatia where I’d never been before and I’d wanted to go for quite a few years now. It exceeded all my expectations.
What do you have planned for the future?
I’m driving from Vegas to New York with one of my old childhood friends, and hopefully if I will be staying in New York. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find a job that will pay my rent there. I’m going to do New York for a bit and then we’ll see.
Whether you’re planning a backpacking trip or a vacation to Bali, Christine has probably written about it. Plus, she takes fantastic pictures of everything from sunsets to street art. Watch out though, she may make you want to book the next flight to Zagreb.
Interview with swimwear designer Leah Lawrence of Drifting Arrows
We caught up with Pacific Northwest swimwear designer Leah Lawrence to chat about her debut swimwear collection and her partnership with Craft and Culture. The mission of Craft and Culture is to tell the stories of the designer or artist behind the work to create an intimate shopping and browsing experience and expose larger groups of people to specialty goods created by independent artists like Leah. With her new line Drifting Arrows, Leah brings a laidback Hawaiian vibe to Seattle’s eclecticism that’s sure to put the Pacific Northwest on the map.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find so much inspiration without trying. So many of my friends are entrepreneurs and doing really inspiring things in different mediums, and I’m constantly reading books and going online and just looking around me.
What inspired you to launch Drifting Arrows?I went to design school, but I finished school and realized I really knew nothing about how to launch my own line. I worked as a buyer for a long time with small businesses and entrepreneurs and learned how the fashion industry works, and all of a sudden it felt like I had arrived at a time in my life where I was ready become an entrepreneur myself.
What is important to me is to offer something that isn’t just a throwaway item. I want to make pieces that will be really special for years. I want to focus on the quality and consistency of the pieces.
Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
Now that I’ve gone through my whole sales season, I’ve started to wear my pieces. The one that I’ve probably worn the most is the Kure. It’s a great bandeau top you can wear sunbathing and not get tan lines, and I love the high-waisted bottoms. So that’s probably my favorite.
You grew up in Hawaii and clearly travel is an inspiration for you. Can you tell me more about that?
I left Seattle after high school to move to Hawaii, which was a huge shift. My parents traveled when I was young and I was born overseas, so I was always very inspired by that. I can’t remember a whole lot of it but it’s always something I look back on and I think of how amazing it is.
Seattle isn’t exactly the place you think of for swimwear.No it’s not, but I’ll forever consider Hawaii home now just as much as Seattle is home. I mean, you can’t really beat the lifestyle you have there. Explore luxury designer lingerie, nightwear & premium beachwear at Juste Moi.
Do you go back often?
A couple times a year. I’m looking to start going for more like a month and then eventually after a couple years stretch it out so I can be there three months out of the year.
You’re opening a web store soon, and Craft and Culture was your first web stockist. How was that experience?
Hana approached me and explained what Craft and Culture was and the more I chatted with her, the more unique it sounded. It wasn’t just like “hey we have this retail site online and we want your stuff”, Craft and Culture was like “we want to learn more about you and come and do an interview and make it very editorial” so I felt like it was a great opportunity to team up with them. They’re not only stockists, they’re very personal and care about me and what I do, and they did a fantastic job. They’ve been doing pre-sale of Drifting Arrows and they did a great interview and took a lot of photos, which was a great experience. Where are your physical stockists?
Los Angeles at TenOverSix, New York City at Maryam Nassir Zadeh, I’ve got one in Vancouver called Lark, and in Seattle at a store called Les Amis.
Any big plans for the future for the brand?
I definitely want to expand into other categories that are related to swimwear like eyewear, beach bags, and possibly footwear. I kind of want to do a little bit of apparel but keep focused on swim and the accessories that go with swimwear.
Images from the Drifting Arrows lookbook.
To shop Drifting Arrows and view the entire lookbook visit Craft and Culture, and check out the Drifting Arrows website.
John Lehman’s new LA-based handbag line R.B. of McD isn’t just a collection of purses – it’s a labor of love. Lehman started out in branding and marketing with handbag label Junior Drake, and while there fell in love with leather. Pretty soon it became apparent to him that there was a demand for high-quality leather wallets and handbags, and he decided he was the right person to supply that demand. From that, R.B. of McD was born. Lehman was adamant that he doesn’t want to make something that’s already being done well. The line, produced in downtown LA, certainly draws inspiration from the city with modern silhouettes and luxe leather.
The preview party was held at the L.Bazaar boutique in Silver Lake, an adorably eclectic shop stocked with quirky gifts, delicious-smelling lotions, and possibly the most charmingly clever birthday cards ever. Well-dressed attendees clustered around the collection, which was displayed in a multi-level mirrored case, admiring the quality of the leather or trying one of the purses. The collection itself had something to appeal to anyone. My personal favorite was the bright blue tote with chunky gold, but there were also piece for any minimalist or neutral-lover. Overall, the line was both classic and modern, and certainly showed Lehman’s love of LA and keen grasp of what an Angelino wants in a handbag. Definitely check out the label and see for yourself!
You might remember the Royal/T Café as the venue from Amber Nolan’s fascinating art show Tag You’re It. If not, check out the piece here. The Royal/T is the kind of space that, upon entering, you automatically feel inspired and really, really cool. One of Culver City’s best-kept creative secrets, you won’t want to miss out on the excellent food and friendly atmosphere, not to mention to superbly curated gift shop (Pantone paint chip mugs? Kitschy cool plastic jewelry? Yes please!).
Walk past the huge art installations, through a hall wallpapered with pictures of costumed Japanese teenagers, and you’ll find a large space in the back. This time it was filled with racks of vintage clothing and accessories in every color, print, and style for the first ever ReCollections Vintage Swap and Shop, an event featuring vintage vendors specializing in 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s clothing and accessories. It’s rare to find such a diverse assortment of high-quality vintage clothes, but the vendors really delivered with selections of Bakelite jewelry, crazily printed men’s shirts, and stunning cocktail dresses.
And it wasn’t just the selection of clothes and accessories that was amazing. The knowledge of the vendors, as well as many of the event’s attendees, about the items went above and beyond average. Clearly, buying and selling vintage clothes isn’t just a pastime for these people, it’s a passion, and they do it exceptionally well.
Racks were exceedingly well-curated and it was easy to find styles from every era in a wide assortment of sizes. Vendors weren’t just approachable, they were happy to volunteer information and answer questions from even the most excessively curious guests. Attendees were encouraged to join in bringing items for the swap rack, which made it even more of a community event. This wasn’t just a shopping event, it was an opportunity for like-minded men and women to come together and celebrate their passion for vintage clothing and accessories. Hopefully this isn’t a one-time event, and I’ll be sure to post updates about any similar events in the future. Meanwhile, if you find yourself in Culver City be sure to stop by the Royal/T for some milk tea, made with the café’s unique secret recipe, and enjoy the fantastic creative atmosphere.