That’s awesome. We should interview them!
They’d be interesting to interview. Kim’s totally a character.
Were you friends with them before or did you meet them through this?
I knew them both from Austin. We all went to school together.
I feel like everybody I know from Texas is part of a tight-knit community. Do you feel that’s true here? Like, when you meet someone from Austin, it’s like “Oh, my people!” And it’s all connected?
I do definitely feel like it’s all connected. I don’t know if I feel like necessarily they’re all my people, but a lot of them are. And they come and go. Some of them really are like family. And then they go.
It does seem like people move back in forth between here and Austin a lot. It’s interesting.
And I lived in Austin for seven years so a lot of people I met there are really close. But there are a lot of people that come from Austin and if I didn’t know them when I lived there I don’t feel like that. I’m not the type of person that is like “you’re from the same place as me so I’m bonded to you!” but if I knew them while I was there, there’s definitely nostalgia.
There’s just something about people from Texas.
I notice it too.
It’s a lovey state. Especially Austin. Chris went to Austin, and he never wanted to leave. Even when it’s hot it’s really nice and there are bodies of water you can jump into… And the style is really relaxed and you can be crazy. We used to go to college in polka-dot knee-highs and green apple backpacks and crazy outfits. And nobody really cares, everyone’s just like, “Oh, another Austinite!” Keep Austin weird! You can do whatever you want.
I do love that slogan.
So when you guys are putting together your collection each season, do you go from a hat or one specific thing? Or is it different every season?
It’s always different. For the most recent example, the one we’re working on now to be shown in September (so it’s Spring 2011), my main thing I had in mind is we always did black and white. And everyone’s constructive criticism was “Can you do anything else?” So I was really driven not to use black or white, so I didn’t use either. At all. Just a little bit of white lace. That was my main thing, so I had the challenge of doing no black and white, and I wanted to use completely different materials so I chose to use all leather, and I’d never done that before. I wanted it to be really different but as I said earlier, keeping the same aesthetic we’d had for the past three collections. And it was a challenge. But that’s kind of where I started for this collection.
How do you guys feel about not having a millinery background? Do you think it really matters that you didn’t go to school to learn how to make hats? If you could go back would you want to do that?
No…I didn’t even get a degree in design. I had a bachelors of science in textiles and apparel, all the explosive properties—
Like how fabric burns.
–I wanted to know something else. I feel like so many people go to this fashion school and this fashion school, and everybody thinks they’re going to be like Karl Lagerfeld when they come out. And I just wanted something that was going to make me different and stand out more. And I think that background gave me more knowledge, where it wasn’t just design. And I think that extends over to millinery. And I know how steam is going to affect each fabric. And I know if this fabric sews to this fabric, and which thread to use with this one. And with millinery, I definitely don’t know everything. There’s a million things I don’t know. I mean, I couldn’t make a fedora if you paid me…
What fun stuff do you do that has nothing to do with hats or fashion?
That has nothing to do with fashion? That’s hard, because a lot of the crazy stuff we do is us getting, like, dressed up in ridiculous outfits and going to the lighthouse.
Oh, we have to talk about this. We should show the video. We’re going to have to show you this house. This house is in New Durham, New York. It looks like the Beetlejuice house. It’s about three and a half hours north of here. It’s our friend Steve’s house, the one I was telling you about who lives in the Chelsea Hotel. He’s older than we are. He’s a producer. Do you remember the Mary J. Blige music video, “Everything”? Where she’s on the beaches, in Hawaii? He directed that. He’s directed a lot of her videos, actually, in the late nineties.
If I was an older gay man, I would be Steve.
Laurel would be Steve. Really.
We have the same aesthetic. If this house was my house… His is a little more boy, a little more dusty.
I’m like a sucker for these sorts of things. His house was built in 1850. It’s a civil-war era mansion. It was used as a Scandinavian girl’s boarding house from like 1876-1912. There’s this magic. I know you said you don’t believe in ghosts, but this house is haunted. It’s haunted, Lauren. It’s so haunted. Laurel went out one night to try to take pictures while the rest of us were sleeping, and it’s so big you can all have your own bedrooms…
And whenever you get there they assign you a bedroom and in your bedroom is the costume you have to put on.
I had to wear a green dress with yellow flowers all over it. I don’t wear dresses. I am so not this kind of gay.
How do I get an invite to this house?
I’d never gone before.
He’d never gone before, and yet he knows all this history. I’ve been and I don’t know what I’m talking about right now.
All the previous owners left articles behind, or pictures. And it’s called The White House, because the Scandinavian architect who built it on this hill built a yellow house, a red house, and a white house. And the only one left standing at the top of the hill is the white house. And you should see the sun rise every morning. Oh, it’s so beautiful.
In his formal dining room he makes everyone who sleeps the night there pain their own picture of the house. So there’s a room full of people’s interpretations of the house.
So pretty much the whole time…Well, I know this has to do with fashion so let’s cut to it…but the whole time we were there we were dressed in these crazy outfits… Laurel had a wig on the whole time we were there that she wouldn’t take off…
The entire time. A white Martha Washington wig. I went swimming in it.
I was wearing like a man-skirt, a sweater I turned into a man-skirt, with a white wreath around my head… I looked like a tree nymph… We all had these characters we’d become and we didn’t even plan on doing it. Just the magic of the house and Steve’s energy overtakes you, and you just start acting like this person.
We had one straight guy with us…and by the last day—
We got him in a dress and heels. And he’s a music boy. Like, hip-hop. He’s not the type to do this.
You have a really interesting, exciting life.
Sometimes I don’t feel like that. But I guess it is.
You’ve made it really cool. You’ve created this world.
We definitely have. We say this to each other all the time. We’re both big kids, and we want to live in this dream world. And obviously you can’t always do that.
And you’re obviously very hard workers. So it’s like you work hard, and then you have this fantasy world apart.
And I feel like I Love Factory is a direct product of this dream world. You put the hats on, and you’re part of it. It feels like a dream world.
Do you ever clash?
When we started, it was like that. We clashed. We definitely clashed.
When we first started, we didn’t really know what we were getting into, so there were no rules.
We were both making stuff at that point. We were both sitting up all night creating things.
But as things progressed, we really found what we feel comfortable in and what we do best. I cannot go out there and… I can go out and wear a hat, but that’s as much as I’m going to promote I Love Factory. It’s not in my DNA to go out there and be like, “I have a brand.” That’s so not me. That’s him. I could never do that. I’m not good at pitching to people. It’s not me at all. I want to be in a 1920′s slip with my unwashed hair, sewing to Nirvana. And once we started clashing there, we saw we needed to give ourselves roles to stop the clashing.
It was mainly the first collection. We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, we just knew we wanted to start something, and we went out together and picked out all the same things. And immediately in that initial going out to pick out fabric and trims, we were agreeing on everything. If she looked at something, I liked it. If I looked at something, she liked it. And it was like, “Okay, this can work.” We came home and laid everything out, and we had to create like 10-12 samples for Gossip Girl, and we’d already done three pieces, but we hadn’t really created a full collection yet. So we went out and got a lot of the same trims we’d created those three pieces with. And we stayed up for a few nights, all night long. Laurel was working full-time at this point; I was just styling so I worked sporadically. And we’d stay up all night, and she’d be making something and I’d be making something, and we’d show each other and it was like, “Okay, that’s cool, let’s do it. That fits, this works, because they’re all the same trims.” But Laurel has more of that aesthetic eye as a designer to make things cohesive that I don’t really have, and I get almost more overwhelmed and frustrated when it comes to keeping everything the same. I kind of just want to make things. I don’t necessarily want to have to be within these limits. She’s really good. She has the concentration and patience for that. And I more have the ability to go out and talk to everyone, like, “Hey, how are you? I have this design.” After the first collection we figured it out.
Do you have interns that help you or anything? Does that mean you’re doing all the construction>?
A lot of it, yeah, but for this last order, probably 90%. But I usually do and it’s just because I do it faster. It’s just faster for me, and it’s hard for me to have interns, because I’m the type of person who makes something, and he’ll ask me how I made it, and I’ll be like, “I have no fucking idea.” I’m sure I could make it again, I can’t tell you how, I just have to be in the mode. And he can help me do things—like we don’t want to put anything on a headband that’s just elastic, or leather. We wrap it all in satin. And he helps me with a lot of things like that. Eventually we do want to get interns, it would be helpful, but we want to have our studio first.
We used to borrow that guy [Scummy] as our intern, because he was Kim and Andrew’s intern…they have the best interns. Their last intern was literally a mail-order bride.
She was on Oprah over the summer. That was our intern. But Scummy made all these masks for us… I just went to Bensoni’s studio last week, and Sonya still has her mask on her desk at their studio.
That’s who our order is for. They’re opening a boutique in Korea. They’re going to be selling I Love Factory at the boutique.
Their stuff is so nice. They’re so sweet. We want to work with them again.
What are you doing for fashion week this year?
We’re actually looking for a gallery space. We want to do something similar to last year, but not that dark and crazy. For spring we want it to be lighter, and when you see the collection it’ll make more sense.
Thank you so much for doing this!
Thank you for coming!
Check Out Laurel On: All Tomorrow’s Costumes
Check Out Laurel and Chris On: Ilovefactory.blogspot.com
Check Out Their Collections On: Ilovefactorybk.com