Inside the Designer's Studio: Made in Heaven's Chloe Lonsdale

Abandoning denim is a little bit like swearing off carbs: it works for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but eventually, you come crawling back. And so
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Abandoning denim is a little bit like swearing off carbs: it works for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but eventually, you come crawling back. And so
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Abandoning denim is a little bit like swearing off carbs: it works for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but eventually, you come crawling back. And so, instead of denying the twelve (yes, twelve) pairs of jeans in our closet, we’re simply going to highlight the brands that we see on Kate Moss and not on Lauren Conrad. Enter Chloe Lonsdale and Made in Heaven, a British brand that began in the ‘70s and recently got resurrected in London. Ms. Moss has surfaced in their jeans, but so has this idea: that denim trends will soon shift territory from California to Britain, and with it, a big chunk of street style inspiration. Which means that Chloe could be the start of something big…

Name: Chloe Lonsdale Age: 25 Clothing Designer Since: I went to St. Martins in London for women’s wear design, and then I worked for Nicole Farhi, designing for her for about two and a half years. It was a really nice learning curve and I didn’t know anything about the commercial industry, so that was a wonderful training ground – she was like a mother to me. She got me when I was just a keen student, and I felt very well set up about going forward.

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Nicole Farhi is a high end line – did you always know you’d rather make jeans? I love fashion but really I’m more of a business woman. Denim is a business, it has huge potential, and I don’t want to make things that don’t make money! I love making beautiful mad dresses, but I want to offer something that people need. And denim is in my blood.

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How? My godfather founded Made in Heaven in the ‘70s! We were the first fashion denim label. My mum became the house model; my dad did the business. They rented a store on King’s Road; it was called The Jean Machine. Within three years they had fifty stores. How did that background influence your style? I grew up thinking everyone wears jeans all the time – even at weddings at funerals. I remember being 12, 13, 14, we went to a school where we could wear what we wanted – we raided trunks full of jeans in our attic. And that was when I remember thinking my parents are pretty cool. I used to sell the extra jeans in our attic to all the kids at school. That might have been stupid – the Japanese would have probably paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for them!

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That’s hysterical. We’re trying to keep the same look of the jeans now. To me, Made in Heaven is like, the way my mom looked in the ‘70s, and Farrah Fawcett and Jane Birkin. I don’t have anything against the California glittery denim market, but the Seven with the heels, it’s not us. There wasn’t much on the market for 25 – 35 year old smart, but trendy, working girl about town, someone that doesn’t always want the jeans to make a statement for her. How do you make the perfect pair of jeans? I am the sole designer, product developer, everything. We get the denim from Italy because we used to get it from them in the ‘70s and I think they’re one of the best mills in the world. I spend a lot of time in Tunisia. I work on the factory floor and in the wash houses. I go to Istanbul to do that. And ecologically, ethically, they have very high standards, which is really important. The carbon goes neutral, the working conditions – I think it’s better than in my office sometimes!

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Is there a limit to what denim can do? At the end of the day, jeans are jeans and there’s no hiding that. But if you have fantastic quality and fantastic fit, you can get away with a lot. So Kate Moss wears your jeans and every tabloid runs the picture, and then… I got a call from Misty who’s my right hand girl here. She’s like, “You’re not going to believe it.