Cobwebs may be gathering in studios across the UK, but London-based fashion designer, Lula, has kept her label polished from home. The setbacks of COVID-19 have temporarily ceased her productions, but she is grateful as shipments of her designs are still being made.
Lula believes, ‘clothes are an extension of who we are’, and her fashion label, LULA LAORA, demonstrates this acceptance of character. Bold, playful and charismatic, her collections encourage us to indulge in our fantasies and be confident in who we are.
Chatting to Lula has left us inspired. Amidst the monotony of the UK’s lockdown, she is a burst of passion and personality. We join her as she introduces us to the adventure of LULA LAORA.
Hi Lula, it’s nice to hear you’ve been keeping busy.
Can you tell us a little about how you fell into fashion design and why it’s special to you?
Since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed playing with fabrics, clothes and anything I could find to dress up. I’m a big movie fan and, seeing how set design and costumes have such a great impact on building a character, I started creating my own visual stories to build my own characters.
As a little girl, letting myself go into these different characters helped me discover who I am as a person. I believe clothes are an extension of who we are. We evolve and change so much throughout our lives. Things we loved 10 years ago might not be relevant for us today and that’s why I think embracing clothes as an extension of our personality helps us to be our true self.
What’s the story of LULA LAORA?
LULA LAORA is an inclusive label. There is no gender nor race distinction. We share and welcome our world with anyone that wishes to join our adventure. For our brand launch, we used actors to create a fantasy world that appeals to people from all walks of life. The launch encapsulated the vision of LULA LAORA where people can come together to be surprised, shocked, inspired and have a laugh.
Each design has its own story. You’ll find movie references in all my pieces, from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971 – my favourite), to The Devil’s Advocate (also at the top of my list). Each character behind a piece is usually very strong and self-confident. The balance between characters with power and wickedness inspires me to create pieces that combine elegance and extravagance.
We can’t categorise ourselves in a particular style as we have a spectrum of styles in each look. Our pirate coat is theatrical, has a lot of different trims and looks very dramatic, whilst a piece like our denim gathered jacket feels more laidback and streetwear. It’s this mix that creates the LULA LAORA style.
You’ve previously collaborated with artists in the music industry. What inspired this?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. As a teenager, it was one of my main sources of energy, but it also made me discover amazing communities of people. A lot of artists from the music industry fascinate me with their performances, lyrics, attitude and look. To me it was clear I needed to collaborate with them.
Slipknot was one of my favourite bands growing up and still is today. I love how they perform and look, so I created an opportunity for myself and ended up collaborating with Clown – from here our projects have kept evolving.
My dream is to design a piece with and for Marilyn Manson.
Your collections are striking, confident and comfortable – what’s your advice for other designers on staying true to their style?
First, define what it is you fight for. What do you believe you can bring to this world? From there, if fashion design is your weapon, analyse what is the best way for you to create a space for yourself in the fashion industry.
Staying true to yourself is the key to your success. It can be hard because we live in a world that constantly bombards us with images and information that can make us doubt ourselves and our work. Doubting ourselves, however, is very healthy – it shows open-mindedness and the reality that one can always do better and push themselves more. Doubting becomes unhealthy when it paralyses you and stops you from working. You start overthinking and potentially not staying true to yourself. When you’ve reached that state of mind, just pause and tell yourself you can overthink for a whole day but that won’t help you know the answer. Start working and taking actions that will slow the over-doubting and also lead you to a solution.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your designs?
My designs are true to who I am and my values – this is what I’m most proud of. They each translate a part of my world. A world that has fantasies, realities, love and pain. It’s all of those things together that help me grow in life and that’s what I want to transparently share with others.
How has COVID-19 influenced your work and do you have any advice for other fashion designers who may be struggling during lockdown?
Neither my pattern cutter or I can go to my studio, so production has been paused. Nevertheless, I’m still making exciting new things from home.
Embrace lockdown and think of it as a great opportunity to reflect on what you’ve done so far and see how you feel about it. Is there anything you can improve or that you wish to do differently? Also, as most productions have paused, take advantage and use that time to create and make new things in a free-minded way.
What does the future look like for LULA LAORA?
We’re so excited about the future as we have more amazing collaborations in the process. New pieces will also be released in the near future so stay tuned.
Interview: Ali Townsend