Stylist, Fashion Designer and Founder of Lalla x RR
We met Lalla Bronshtein; Stylist, Fashion Designer and Founder of the eco-friendly label Lalla x RR. We talk assisting, how you turn trash into hi-end treasure and if upcycling is the future of fashion.
Did you study fashion?
I went to art school, this was years and years ago and started a menswear label and funny enough that was up cycled as well. It was printed shirts that was customised and that was sold in Topman, New York and Milan. From there I did some styling and I’ve always been back and forth with styling.
What got you into up cycling?
I think initially I didn’t know how to put a whole outfit together so I wouldn’t know how to make a full outfit from scratch. I did a course in St. Martins and it taught me the basics in sewing, I love putting hoods on shirts and I learnt how to do that. I just love clothes and I love the idea of adding things to an outfit that already exist.
Where do you find your initial vintage wear?
It could be anywhere – I usually troll the charity shops and now all the charity shops know me every time I go in there like ‘hello, how are you?’ I can’t just pass one without going in. I look for unique pieces to start off with, I’ll work with that and change it. I also like basics from H&M or Topshop they are really nice to work with because you can add it to another garment and make it look really unique. It’s kind of my theme from trash to treasure. Even friends could be chucking stuff out and I will say no then upcycle it.
Have ever used your pieces in outfits you style?
I try and infiltrate my pieces in shoots and I have taken all my clothes before. If I am styling a celebrity I will show them my stuff. I try and get it out there and get it shot.
Do you have a personality or person in mind whilst you’re designing?
I try and make it for every kind of girl and I hope that there’s a piece in every part of the collection that would fit any kind of personality. When I first started I only wanted that eco friendly girl, someone like Lily Cole but later I soon realised that any girl can wear it. The sporty girl teams this outfit with jogging pants or there some really done up dresses for girls that love to go to events. I felt it was unfair to just think of the target for one because there’s so many different types and I try and do a piece for everyone.
How many pieces have you made so far?
I’ve made a lot... I think about 50, once i get going I can't stop. The process is quite long for each garment. I sketch it first then lay out the garment with skirts or work on a trousers and plan it out, then I take it to the seamstress who makes it wearable or tells me it’s not going to work. Then when the seamstress is finished I see the final product and it can look completely different. You’re working with different materials and you don’t know if they will work together and that’s the exciting part.
Do you fund yourself?
Yes, I fund myself – I go from styling to designing to styling to designing. My styling work funds my label basically. I sell pieces on ASOS marketplace and the dream is to get into Selfridges or Liberty’s because I think that would be an amazing journey. As it starts off as someone’s trash and then turns into someone’s treasure with a high fashion end so that’s where my dream is.
Is there anywhere you would love to see your brand?
Paris I think and maybe New York.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Oh my God! Just manic – I do think I need an assistant. I plan it so I’m sorting out emails during the day but it does depend if I have a shoot. If I'm doing a shoot I need to prep and then there’s days where I’m just organising the collection. So I could do anything from seeing the seamstress to going out and shopping, getting more clothes from charity shops or vintage places. So everyday is really different there’s always something to do. I always try and work the two pieces together so if i’m shooting stuff for ASOS i will be styling it and getting pieces in to add to the look. I try to make each of the ASOS photos really styled up to show how each piece can be worn.
You also make videos how did that start?
I work with a company called Third that works on social media we were coming up with different concepts on how to show the brand and they do a style video and the idea came from that really. I feel like the pieces are so different that you have to show them styled.
Is there any other designers you look to for inspiration?
I love Stella McCartney, Chloe, Alexandra Wang - a real mix. I try and make the pieces look as high fashion as possible. As they come from a place where its peoples “trash” essentially, I want them to have a new journey and a new kind of beginning. So I look at high fashion or even go down the high street and look at H&M and Zara and go ‘wow that’s amazing’. So I get inspiration from everywhere.
What sparked the move from menswear to womenswear?
When I was doing menswear many, many, many years ago - I thought there was nothing actually for men apart from T-shirts and obviously now as it’s grown massively but when I started I wanted to do something totally different such as hooded shirts for men. I always thought I would do women wear because I love fashion and I love clothes and I thought years in the future I will do women wear.
Would you ever go back to menswear?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind doing one off’s or teaming up with someone and doing a one off menswear thing. I really enjoy women wear but you never know.
Is there anyone you would like to team up with?
I wouldn’t mind teaming up with Oxfam or creating a line with another charity. Or even H&M as they do up cycling as well.
Have you seen an emergence of designers that work with fashion doing up cycle wear now?
Yes, definitely and it’s amazing to see the collaboration. I notice H&M collaborate with loads of designers and that would be a dream of mine.
Talking about details and sleeves is that a main point that you focus on?
I’m obsessed with the flowing, the flares, the bat wing arms. I’ve always loved texture and patterns and clashing stuff. I love putting together things that would normally wouldn’t go together and what people would think ‘thats never going to work” that what’s I try and make work.
Fashion is a notoriously hard industry to get into. What are the hardest points from 1. being a fashion designer and 2. being stylist?
I’ve been really lucky with this collection people have really warmed to it from making the collection and buying it on ASOS so that’s been really good. With styling I did a lot to get me into it. I assisted a stylist for four years and that was a good four years ago. That was a lot of work, it was a lot of running around and making tea but I was so determined because that what I wanted to do but it was a lot of grafting. Sometimes I was like ‘I can't do this.’ I remember getting on the tube with literally 10 bags a trolley, a suitcase and I just thought, I can’t do this. But years down the line doing Crème de la Crème or Strictly or anyone of them I think it was all worth it. I always say you got to keep on sending those emails, you’ve got to keep pushing on because when I do all of these big things I feel like it was all worth it.
Do you think your experience as a stylist helped your label?
Definitely with the ideas and the looks I learnt from doing shoots and understanding how they should look and how they should be shot and what makes it look high fashion. It definitely taught me a lot and helped me meet people on the way.
Were there any surprises you found when you moved to womenswear?
Oh my God that’s really hard. There’s so many women doing womenswear - I suppose with me because it’s upcycling and it’s constantly creating stuff out of different garments it was that kind of thing that could either work or not work. So when I first took it to the seamstress it was that kind of thing that they could say this isn’t going to work, this is impossible. I learnt a lot from that and working with the seamstresses. It’s a learning curb with all these things.
Is there ever point when you have one off pieces and wholesalers or retailers say they want to see more or they want to see a collection?
The downside to this is that I’ve got quite small sizes and I think you should have a big range of sizes to fit all shapes and because I’m putting two garments together it usually comes up quite small because you are working with the two pieces. The idea I would like to do in the next couple of months is keep each piece as a one off but that design having two other sizes. So still make a piece that’s unique but making it a little bit different in a bigger size. So there will be a range of sizes in the future. I think if someone got in touch and said I really like this dress but it’s too small could you make something like this, I would be up for doing that.
What is the aim for the future and your next plans?
I don’t like to say aims, I just want everything to grow organically and I really enjoy the whole process of doing it and the whole styling of it and the making of it. One of the dreams is to get my clothing in a massive store like Liberty’s or Selfridges. That would be my biggest dream or a fashion show. I just want to see how it goes.
If you could give one piece of advice, something you wish you knew?
I would say keep banging on doors, keep sending emails if you want to assist someone. If you want to get into high fashion styling or central styling assist someone who is doing that. Don’t just assist anyone. Look for stylist that are on the route that you want to go down and stick at assisting them and do it for a couple of years because it is worth it. At the end of the day you will be able to do it and you will be able to work on big campaigns. So I would definitely say do assisting because that is so important. I would also say be willing to learn things on the way and be open to change.
And if you had to describe your brand in a couple of sentences?
It benefits the environment because it reduces the need for the production of new fabrics and I always love to say upcycling and recycling is the future.