You originally began as an English Major—What prompted you to pursue fashion design?
I’ve always loved fashion. In fact, at Harvard, as an English major, I used to take as many opportunities as possible to write essays about clothing. I’ve been studying clothing—studying all aspects—since I was a child. As soon as I could be trusted with a needle, I was deconstructing clothing and trying to make my own—and this fascination with the artistry as well as concepts of fashion stayed with me.
When choosing the name for this line, my favorite book (which I wrote my thesis about), Lolita, immediately suggested itself to me, but not for the obvious reason. My line is not particularly about seductive 12 year olds. The name, Lola Haze is actually more of an ode to the book and to Nabokov, who was such a master of his craft, and used words for play and at the same time to create incomparable beauty. And as for the character of Lolita Haze, she’s an iconic representation of the complexity and power of sexuality – and of the various ways it can be used. The names “Lolita” and “Lola” have been culturally appropriated and have come to invoke a simpler flirtation than the original character in the book. So there are many layers of associations with the name now.
Do you think your position at Gap, inc. was helpful to your current design aesthetic?
I’m glad to have had the chance to work there. For designers in the rarified fashion capital of New York, it’s always important to remember what real women want to wear, and what they expect from their clothing.
As a designer, what process do you undertake in order to see an initial design become a completed piece?
I start with impressionistic ideas that can come from anywhere: a certain neckline, or a metallic fabric that catches my eye, or a work of art or a molding on a ceiling. The most fun part of the design process is finding commonalities between, say, Austrian 18th century interiors and Henna tattoos and metallic lace, and then melding these ideas into a cohesive collection. At the same time that I’m pushing concepts around, I’m sketching silhouettes and thinking through the structure and components of each garment.
For your spring 2009 collection, what in particular inspired these pieces?
For Spring/Summer 09 I sought to fuse two disparate inspirations: the paintings of Morris Louis and Prince concerts. In each, I was drawn to the liquidy feeling of bold colors layered on top of each other: transparency that creates a sense of the ephemeral. I drew from these two dramatically different media—watery paint and neon-lit stage smoke—to create the collection, called “Colorfield” in homage to Morris Louis.
Spring and Summer are hot, bold, colorful seasons. I played with stacking bright colors against softer ones, and gorgeous drapey silk charmeuse against geometrically cut mesh to create wearable, comfortable clothes that at the same time really make you feel special. The luxury is not only in the fabrics and design details, but primarily in that transforming feeling of slipping into one of these pieces. You feel playful, special, like the most delicious candy you would ever want.
How do you integrate surface imagery into your work?
Charlotte Pinson and Lola Haze TM have teamed up to create whimsical one-of-a-kind wearable art—and priced to suit the art aficionado on a budget.
The element of visual surprise is an essential for Lola Haze’s TM seasonal intimates collections. I like to integrate playful juxtapositions within the structure of the garments, for example through color blocking or hardware mixed with silk. Working with Charlotte has been an inspiring experience, and working with a surface artist creates a new element for bringing whimsy and surprise to Lola Haze TM. It’s also exciting to bring Lola Haze TM out of the boudoir and onto the street.
It is very admirable that you have followed and pursued your dream to become a designer here in New York. Do you have any advice to people who have similar aspirations?
Work hard and have fun!
– Interview with Laura Mehlinger by Stevyn Llewellyn
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Photos © Lola Haze Spring 2009