I already promised you during the NYFW to post that amazing and super revealing interview with Charlotte Welch – Executive Fashion Director for the House of Borel and Stylist for Michael Costello – and I’m so happy that it’s eventually right in front of you! As I’ve already told you, this season the House of Borel accessorized Costello’s cosmopolitan collection with some exquisite exotic skin pieces; the ‘Eve’ clutch which was their common project and a show-stopping capsule collection including backpacks transitioning into chic purses with a single move. Charlotte discussed both visions together in a very insightful dialogue about fashion and its real value!
Charlotte: When Michael and I started working on this collection after the February show, we really wanted to play with color, because the last one was mostly about black and grey, which was fantastic for our woman, but we then wanted to do something a bit more fun. This past summer we took a trip to France together, to the Cannes Film Festival — he also went to Paris — and it was his first time being in Europe which really inspired him to do something that has a great twist on drape and silhouette in a way he hadn’t done before. He did some very cool jumpsuits that translated back into the US — because he is from California — by giving them a more casual fabrication and pairing them with backpacks that transition from purses! Every woman loves a good accessory that adds to her look and complements her outfit with color!
Elena: With those purses transitioning easily to backpacks and going from evening to day looks back and forth, it’s like ‘dressing up and down’ an accessory, isn’t it?
Charlotte: Exactly! And it was really inspired by this Parisian ‘it girl’ who can also change her bag to fit a NYC or an L.A. girl.
Elena: It’s interesting that it can work with so different types of girls!
Charlotte: True, very different! And you’ll see how the collection adds a spin with the shoulder pads, the jersey, the slits and the drape; it’s really very beautiful but it has a fun spunk to it.
Elena: What’s the statement piece that better describes this girl?
Charlotte: I would say the jumpsuit; especially the wide-leg jumpsuit he’s doing is really fun and cool!
Elena: How would you describe that woman?
Charlotte: I would describe her as a modern-day Lauren Hutton. She’s fairy, sleek, and elegant, but she still has that air about her that is kind of fun and whimsical. And she is confident. Confidence is huge in this collection because those really bold colors – a strong raspberry or mustard – require sophistication and a special way you carry yourself when walking into a room.
Charlotte: Based on demand! Many customers want to wear him for all types of events, so we tried to put in some separate pieces that could definitely work for daytime, but there’s still definitely a lot of eveningwear in the collection, because he does such a great job with it!
Elena: I had this feeling that previous collections were conceptual in a way, like these forest creatures he has presented before. Is that the case with SS16?
Charlotte: Sure! We thought about a sultry, kind of sensual woman, this girl that is confident, sophisticated and has a bit of edge to her. So maybe there is a tattoo on her back or she has a bit of wit or sass about her. Sultry yet sensitive and alluring! We were going about that type of a decadent lady!
Elena: Tell me a bit more about the bags!
Charlotte: They are such a great partnership for his collection because they really help finish his look, and we – Natalie and I – who are Creative Directors of the House of Borel are so proud for this upcoming collection! The hardware is completely custom made in Milan, and all the bags are handmade in Italy. In everything we do, we similarly believe like Michael in artisanal fashion. We don’t produce high volumes of things. Everything is designed in California – he makes things in L.A. – we make everything in factories in Italy and we really want fashion to still have that authenticity value, that when somebody is buying it to be thinking that he could also pass it to their daughter one day! Or that it could hang up into my closet for years and when it comes out it will be as relevant as it was back then. I believe in the near future, all things will become ‘the new new’. People will realize that fast fashion is having such an effect on the environment, the culture, and the fashion industry, that they will appreciate the value of the investment pieces.
Elena: How do you see your customer? Is it someone willing to pay large sums for a purse or is it like the busy girl that is working and struggling but still wants something precious in her closet to keep it forever?
Charlotte: I think they are probably two. The woman who really believes in fashion as art and spends the money on the pieces of the season that are really worthy of their value, and then the girl who falls in love with different pieces and saves her pennies to get that one clutch or that one bag that can really set her apart from the rest of the community and give her some differentiation. She can really be of almost any age but most probably not super young or rather old!
Elena: Michael has dressed many celebrities on the red carpet. Which one do you think best represents the brand?
Charlotte: I think that it changes a lot — he’s been inspired by many — but particularly for this season it’s a woman like Angelina Jolie. She’s sultry but still sensitive. She has that edge to her, but then she is also devoted to her charity and family. She keeps this delicate balance of what it means to be a mother and what it means to be a strong, confident, fierce woman!
Charlotte: I think it will last more. We at House of Borel are big fans of how much talented he is. I’ve worked with him as a stylist and assisted him in shows for the last 5 years, so I think, given the chance, we would always want to contribute to his success and help also House of Borel get a platform for people to be able to see it and understand what we are bringing to the market.
Elena: You said that you traveled to get inspiration. Is that always your way of doing so?
Charlotte: Yes! Diana Vreeland – one of my icons – said that the ‘eye has to travel’. I think it’s incredibly important to know what else is happening in the world. It’s so easy to get to your own kind of niche and it’s so important to experience and understand other cultures, to absorb new things, to see colors and textures. Even just coming to NY every season from California inspires a whole new rhythm to my day.
Elena: Finally, as a stylist yourself, can you give me the basic elements of this season and how did you style the whole collection?
Charlotte: We really wanted to present a very finished look. So I was really working with Michael for a month and a half getting a very sleek, put-together feeling, because this woman is confident and knows who she is. We wanted for people to leave the show and think ‘I wanna be her’! We were really working on what the balance could be between a fun pop of eye or a lip color, or a hairstyle and a clean & chic result. To give her some fun and flair but also keep her very realistic! She’s polished with a twist. She is very refined but also has something special that catches one’s eye!
For last season’s Michael Costello and House of Borel collaboration, check HERE!