When we heard that buzzy up-and-coming designer Calla Haynes was collaborating with Parisian staple Comptoir des Cotonniers on a capsule collection--at contemporary price points--well, let's just say we were excited.
Now that we've actually seen the collection, in all its oh-so-pretty, French ingenue glory, it's possible we're even more stoked. Paris-based Haynes took time out of researching her next runway collection to talk us through the range, in stores on May 2. See our conversation below, and click through our exclusive gallery of full collection looks. Because spring is finally in the air… Is this your first collaboration? Why did it feel right to work with Comptoir? This isn't my first, but it is the biggest! Last year, I collaborated with April 77 on a line of printed denim and I created two looks (one women’s, one men’s) for Bruno Pieter's Honest By project. I was attracted to work with Comptoir des Cotonniers because they are a very well-known and well-respected brand here in France, with a reputation for good quality. They are a brand that I feel is curious about and open to art and design, travel, interesting fabrics and surface treatments—all things that I am interested in too!
What inspired the designs? My starting point was to design the perfect wardrobe for a young woman going on her summer vacation to a picturesque village somewhere in France. I imagined her riding a bike, going to the market, the beach, the café, and a special event, like her best friend's wedding. The silhouettes are close to the classic pieces that I propose in my own collection: easy pieces like t-shirts and jeans, but also a bustier dress.
How different was it for you to create clothes for a high-street brand, rather than for your own collection? It really wasn't [different]! It was a pleasure. Comptoir des Cotonniers were very accommodating and really let me express myself. I proposed a floral print because, well, I know it's a little more commercial than some of the artsier things I do—but I was happy to do it. I love that Comptoir des Cotonniers was so open to all the colors that I proposed! About the print: why hydrangeas? I like that it’s floral but almost looks like an abstract digital print… Yes! I guess that's my thing! I added a subtle layer of brushstroke texture that enriches it. In this collection you have jeans, dresses, t-shirts—what’s the most difficult or most interesting thing for you to design? Can we expect to see you expanding into any new areas soon? Personally, I’d love to see Calla sneakers… Seriously! I know! Do you have a contact at Keds? Let's get on that. I guess the most difficult and the most interesting thing to design is pieces with placed patterns. The peplum top and cocktail dress with the big bordeaux flowers were a technical challenge but I'm glad they came out so beautifully!
Coming from Toronto, studying in New York and working in Paris, you’ve had such an international career. How do the different places you’ve worked shape your approach, and why did you choose to start your business in Paris? I think I bring a combination of North American sensibility and Parisian whimsy to my work. It's relaxed luxury because it's essentially sportswear in luxurious European fabrics and that extra special attention to detail. I started working in Paris straight after school in New York, so my entire professional experience has been here. I really believe it's the fashion capital of the world and I pinch myself constantly that I'm able to create here. You said your FW13 collection was about “being happy”. What’s making you happy these days? My dog, my friends, good food, and the fact that I'm going to Tokyo next week! I'm so excited!
What are you working on now? What’s next for Calla? I'll start designing the next collection when I get back from Tokyo. Hopefully, I'll be very inspired.
What ideas are you playing with for your next collection? I was sad to hear that Annette Funicello passed away and I re-watched my favorite childhood movie, Back to the Beach, from 1986. It gave me so many ideas! 80s California surfer plus punk plus Peewee Herman!! There are so many fluorescent Body Glove swimsuits in that movie—you know, the ones with the black zippers in the front? Hmmm, can someone put me in touch with them, too?