Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

In Conversation: Olivia Joffrey

Olivia Joffrey was raised by two native New Yorkers in a California beach house full of books and records. Her eponymous collection is both a love letter to 1970s Santa Cruz, her bohemian hometown, and her mother – a former stage actress whose expatriate years in mid-century Spain flavoured her personal style. With the collection, Olivia seeks to share with women the liberation of a chic, effortless dress – one that inspires a life of more joy and passion pursuits and minimal time deliberating in one’s closet.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Olivia with her daughter Cosima

 

Your mother Anne-Marie is a constant inspiration for your creations. How would you define her style?

True style is really autobiography. My mother’s style was 100% the byproduct of the places in which she lived: New York, San Francisco, and finally Andalusia. New York City lent my mother a certain urbane femininity. She always leaned toward unfussy clothes, long hair parted in the middle in a chignon. However, she would never leave the house without perfume. Naked without perfume! She believed a woman should have one nice handbag. Peeking out of hers, was the latest Paris Review, or The New Yorker. She was glamorous in a bookish way. Eventually she left New York for San Francisco after reading Kerouac’s On The Road : she basically put down the book and got on a Greyhound bus. In San Francisco, she fell in with another group of bohemian writers, but she was never ever a hippie. Throughout the 60s and 70s she wore simple, elegant shift dresses from I. Magnin (the Bergdorf Goodman of California, now defunct). She loved bell-bottomed pant suits, which she’d wear with a French t-shirt and wedge espadrilles. She had a Bill Blass kind of elegance, but it was tempered by the earthiness of California (canvas shoes, wood buttons, Mexican silver jewelry, etc.)

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Expats at the Féria de Sevilla c.1967. One American stage actress, a South African puppeteer, her Irish novelist husband & their darling boys. And one dignified Spaniard. (Of note: my mother is wearing a white cotton dress that served as inspiration for our Olivia Joffrey  Monterey  Cabana Dress)

 

By the 1970s she was living all over the world, but primarily in Nerja, Spain where a group of her friends had formed a sort of impromptu writers colony. Living in Spain taught her the joys of minimalism. One trunk of clothes would have to last for several years (there was nowhere to shop in Franco’s Spain!). The Andalusian climate dictated cotton dresses, lightweight caftans, and white trousers with button-down shirts (she would buy hers in the Brooks Brothers boys department.) She had amazing, thick blonde hair which was her crowning glory. When it started to turn white prematurely in her thirties, she just let it be. The white hair spoke volumes: confidence, self-knowledge, a little avant-garde.

My mother’s style was effortless, laid-back, tidy, feminine, and worldly.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Nerja, Andalusia 1967. My mother in a silk brocade kaftan outside her house.

 

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

My mother in Nerja c.1967

 

Which part did you find the most difficult when creating your own brand? And the most rewarding?

The line has come along so organically. I am not formally educated in fashion, so I’m naïve (often clueless) of the fashion business protocols. I decided early on that I just wanted to make caftans and tunics – seasonless pieces. Our logo, website and the hangtag design all came to me easily, given my background in illustration. The collection is a love letter to my mother and the life she led. I am telling her story. The most difficult thing for me is managing production, quality control, making sure the fabrics I love are available in the quantities I need, on time, etc. The most rewarding thing is definitely the storytelling. If I weren’t designing clothes, I’d probably write a screenplay about her life. She has advanced Alzheimer’s now (she’s 84) so it’s my cartharsis, my productive means of keeping her memory alive.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

 

Capitola Cabana dress -Midnight flamenco dot by Olivia Joffrey

Capitola Cabana dress -Midnight flamenco dot

 

Carmel Cabana dress -ocean stripe by Olivia Joffrey

Carmel Cabana dress -ocean stripe

 

You’ve lived in London, New York and California. What taught you about style each of these cities?

What a fabulous question! I adore cities.

NYC

I lived in New York as a young woman after college. I’d walk to work from uptown to midtown, soaking up a lot of visual education just people-and-building-watching. I learned what good grooming is from New Yorkers. I grew up in a California beach town, so at 23 I still didn’t know what a blow-out was. Gorgeous elderly ladies groomed to smithereens walking their dogs around Central Park impressed me. The public life, the streets of New York are a magical theatre. New York taught me a certain optimism, an appreciation for all the different varieties of beauty out there to appreciate.

London

In London, I lived in Marylebone and studied/worked in architecture; London for me, is the nexus of the design world. I remember the euphoria of discovering the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) – wait, it’s a bookshop/ gallery/ bar/ chic latenight café/ movie house? Pinch me. London is ancient and has so many layers of history that it feels like the appropriate place for cutting edge modernity to spring from. The medieval Inns of Court were once new, so was the Barbican, the Tate Modern… the list goes on. London was an education for me in how rich you can be on a tight budget, getting to suck the marrow from a city.

California 

Having been raised here, California is in my blood – the climate, the plants, surfer slang, the scent of jasmine and salt air, The Pacific – all these things feel like my own skin. My family and I now live in Montecito, a little coastal village next to Santa Barbara. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family, grow a business (my production is close by in Los Angeles) and be a creative person. California is about two things for me: (1) sensuality and (2) open-mindedness. Sensuality due to the climate and the exquisite natural beauty that saturates the place and open-mindedness coming from the “go west” mentality of all the folks who settled this place. Free-thinkers, wierdos and progressives who dream big. California is always questioning convention and moving forward.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

 

 

I met you through Instagram (and I’m so glad I did!) How important is the role of Social Media in your brand?

Instagram is the best. The brand benefits tremendously from the little community we cultivate there. We haven’t really tapped Facebook or Pinterest for the same purpose but that is a goal moving forward. One interesting phenomenon for the brand is our devoted following of interior designers. So unexpected and welcome! I guess it makes sense, as caftans are the sort of things you wear at home, or on holiday in a relaxed setting. There is a yearning among interior designers to create spaces that allow the people to feel “at home.” I am trying to do the same thing with fabric on the body. I feel a special kinship with interior designers.

Monterey Cabana Dress by Olivia Joffrey

Monterey Cabana dress – Flamenco dot

 

Your home is sophisticated yet relaxed, do you have any tips for achieving this style?

Thank you! Such a compliment, as you have the most cultivated eye Gloria. I think of my home is kind of like a mixed tape. It needs to capture my tone. In my case, Californian, but relatively well-traveled. Lots of books, records, mementos, kid’s drawings. My husband’s family is from India so we love to tap into his roots. I discovered Les Indiennes fabric a few years back, and positively mummified a room in their block prints. I think a house will look sophisticated if you just keep the stuff that you love out on display: your books, your music, your art (even propped against a wall.) The relaxed part is probably just a nice way of saying “messy” – I have three girls under the age of 8 so we are by default a hot mess of art supplies, toys and blocks. In a home, a little messy and happy is better than austere. I like the look of a tousled living room the morning after a party. That feels like home.

Olivia Joffrey's home Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey with her three daughters

Olivia and her three daughters

Olivia Joffrey studio

Olivia Joffrey studio

Olivia Joffrey's home

Thank you so much Olivia!

Images: Olivia Joffrey & Maggie Meiners photography 

February Favourites

Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC I love everything artist Wayne Pate does and his new collection for Studio Four NYC isn’t an exception. If you are looking to spice up your home,  his artsy textiles and wallpapers will do the job.

Vence Pillow - Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC
Vence Pillow
Casablanca wallpaper - Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC
Casablanca wallpaper
Trees of Derain wallpaper
Vence &  Marrakech printed linens

 

Cecilie Bahnsen Great Volumes, delicate details and feminine shapes – meet my latest fashion obsession.

Cecilie Bahnsen Cecilie Bahnsen Cecilie Bahnsen Cecilie Bahnsen

 

India Amory’s new arrivals founded by Julia Amory, this block-printed textile brand has become a must for any table-setting lover. Their new collection makes me long for warm evenings dining al fresco.

Les Elephants placemat and napkin set - India Amory
Les Elephants placemat and napkin set
Printemps Placemat and Napkin Set - India Amory
Printemps Placemat and Napkin set
Hollyhock placemat and napkin set - India Amory
Hollyhock Placemat and Napkin set
Woodland placemat and napkin set - India Amory
Woodland Placemat and Napkin set

 

The Swedish Rug Blog Anne Whidden, an architectural designer and independent design historian, is behind this fabulous blog.  She writes about mid-century Swedish weavings designed during the period of 1935-75. She also looks back in time to give background to her mid-century focus, or to look at weavers whose design careers began earlier but who were still active during this period. A very interesting read for anyone interested in Swedish design.

Detail of a flat weave rug (rölakan) by Kerstin Butler, 1966
Detail of a flat weave rug (rölakan) by Kerstin Butler, 1966
ngrid Skerfe-Nilsson, sketch, pattern for pile rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”), in yellows and blues, size noted as 120 x 190 cm, in a Upplandsmuseet collection of 34 of her sketches, digitaltmuseum.se, numbered UM41241. Noted as being from either 1942, 1947 or 1949-51.
Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson, sketch, pattern for pile rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”), in yellows and blues, Upplandsmuseet collection of 34 of her sketches, digitaltmuseum.se, numbered UM41241. Noted as being from either 1942, 1947 or 1949-51.
Ingrid Skerfe, Pile Rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”) in lavenders and browns
Ingrid Skerfe, Pile Rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”) in lavenders and browns

Attico + Mongiardino : a match made in heaven

As my mind is already dreaming of summer, yesterday I remembered how good the Attico SS18 presentation was. Giorgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio cleverly chose a Mongiardino-designed Milanese apartment to showcase the collection. The luxe maximalist feel of the clothes paired with the characteristic Mongiardino ‘all over pattern’ style was a match made in heaven.

Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment.

Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment. Attico SS18 . The collection was showcased in a Renzo Mongiardino-designed Apartment.

Images: Attico via Vogue