Started three years ago by Olivia Kennaway and Alice Heusser after an inspiring holiday to Lamu Island off the north coast of Kenya, Lalesso use soft flowing fabrics to create pieces that can withstand the heat. When the duo isn't traveling the world for inspiration, they can be found splitting their time between their studios in Cape Town and Kenya. Lalesso work closely with the Kenyan community by supporting the talent of local artisans to create an ethical, fair-trade operation.
What is the overall style of the Lalesso?
The trademark to the brand are the East African inspired prints. Each season we design four new prints and print them onto various textiles including silks, cottons and silk chiffons. We love designing free flowing comfortable pieces that are both wearable but a little left of center and interesting.
What inspired you to start your own brand and what inspired you to do so?
We were inspired to start Lalesso after a holiday to Lamu in Kenya. We bought a ton of vintage khanga's, also known as lesso's. The fabrics were just so beautiful and inspiring. After making some skirts and selling them to friends we decided to design a small collection using these textiles and that's how the Lalesso brand was born.
Where do you find inspiration for your brand?
We are largely inspired by Africa, it's such a dynamic place that evokes so many ideas and enhances the imagination. This is a constant source of inspiration for us. We also gather inspiration from things we collect on our travels, be it trinkets, textiles or photographic images or prints.
What do you find the most inspirational destination in the world?
Olivia: Most inspiring destination in the world is torn between Diani Beach, Kenya where I feel most at home which allows the freedom of my inner expression to run free and the open space, African beauty and rustic nature brings through the raw design creativity. And New York city which still feels like a playground to discover and unturn all of the eclectic contrasts that you see on the streets in the day to day living.
Photo Credit http://www.thisislandlife.com/
Alice: There are so many places that I find inspirational. I am currently living in Australia in Bondi which I am finding very inspirational. The culture here is very layed back and the style is a very bohemian eclectic one. The self expression and individuality comes through in everything from art to music, fashion and food! I love the Bondi market which is great for vintage shopping, I love going and seeing what I can find there. Having said that, Cape Town and Diani beach in Kenya are also incredibly creatively stimulating.
What is your own personal Style?
Olivia: My personal style always involves a lot of colour; key cuts simply teamed together to create an overall effortless yet fun style.
Alice: I would say my style is quite bohemian chic. I love accessories from the Middle East, Africa and Asia and team them with denim, heels and silk or cotton tops. I love anything flowly and colourful.
What is the best shopping find you have had on yours travels?
Olivia: My best shopping find has to be my 70's vintage Dior sunglasses which I found at a trade show in London and begged the sales girl to sell me on the sly!
Alice: A green Middle Eastern cloak I picked up at the Portobello market, I love wearing it with a black vest and denim cutt-offs. Also a white vintage lace dress I picked up in Paris. I have worn it to death!
Laura McWhinnie is a contributing writer from Australia. You can read her blog This Island Life by clicking here.
Click here to shop the Lalesso collection.