Toronto born designer Calla Haynes is the creative force behind her eponymous label CALLA, a Parisian based label built on the founding principles of relaxed luxury and wearability. Since the line's debut in Spring/Summer 2010, Calla's strong print designs and experiments with colour and texture have gone from strength to strength, earning her two ANDAM nominations and a prestigious collaboration with the house of Lemarié, one of Chanel’s metiers d’arts. I caught up with Calla to discuss what it's like to be a young designer in Paris and the ultimate capsule wardrobe.
Hi Calla! Where are you and what are you doing right now? Hi! Right now, I’m in my studio wrapping up all my Spring/Summer 2013 orders and launching production.
How did you get into design? I always knew that this was what I wanted to do but as a kid I never thought that I would wind up living in Paris. When I was in high school I made a lot of my own clothes. I made my formal dress and graduation dress. I applied to Parsons School of Design and studied there in New York for 2 years and then 1 year at Parsons Paris.
Tell us about your past jobs. What lead you to your current position? After my year at Parsons Paris, I interned with Olivier Theyskens at Rochas and then went on to work closely with him for almost 5 years at Rochas, and then Nina Ricci. After that, I worked as a freelance textile designer and collaborated with a lot of amazing people like Jeremy Laing and Erin Fetherston.
You’re based in Paris. What’s it like being a young designer there? It’s really exciting! There is so much history and savoir-faire here to inspire my work.
How would you describe the Calla aesthetic in three words? Relaxed Luxury + Prints
Who and what influences your designs? Art, nature and texture influence my print designs, and the ‘creative woman’ influences what kind of clothes I design. I like to imagine her in a certain job, like a painter, or an actress, or an interior decorator, and then think up the kind of wardrobe she would need in her life.
Talk us through the design process. I do a lot of textile research to find interesting, special things. Then I start on the print designs, which are done mainly on Photoshop but have some hand-made elements as well. Separately, I design the silhouettes of the collection and at some point the prints and the silhouettes marry.
Prints are your signature. How do they evolve from season to season? They relate directly to the themes of the collection so it depends on how I’m feeling that season. I try to push their complexity and their beauty further each season with new techniques or new ways to mix them but I think they always stay a ‘Calla’ print: abstract, poetic, romantic, feminine but twisted.
Who is the Calla girl? She’s a girl that works in the arts and at least appreciates them. She’s looking for unique, special pieces that make her feel special but that are easy to wear and work for her in her busy life. She’s a bit of a ‘coquine’ – for me that means she has a shy side but also a wild side! She’s really in control of her femininity and lets it come out to play when it suits her, but she also loves a jean and t-shirt.
How would you describe your personal style and how does that manifest itself in your designs? I definitely have a tomboy side that’s juxtaposed with my love of high fashion and addiction to cocktail dresses. Because of that, it’s really important for me to create a true wardrobe. Separates are as important as dresses. My favourite pieces (t-shirt, skinny pant, boyfriend jacket) are well represented in my collection, as well as a sexy dress and a romantic floor sweeping skirt.
What’s your favourite fashion era? I don’t really have favourites, but maybe mid-60s London. I love me a vintage Laura Ashley dress…
What are your 5 wardrobe essentials? Ha ha, I think I already answered that!
Printed t-shirt with a cool special detail, printed skinny pant or jean, boyfriend jacket in a cool tweed or jacquard, a sexy dress to convince my husband that maybe accompanying me to another fashion party won’t be that bad! and a dramatic evening look like my long printed skirts with a train.
Any beauty rituals? I’m so basic! But I do have a New York ritual to do a manicure / pedicure whenever I’m there.
What’s coming up next for Calla? Getting my new denim collection in stores. And I better get started on Fall 13!
Describe your perfect day. Getting out of the city, a nice long walk with my dog, lots of good food & wine, and laughing with friends. Discovering something new that inspires me like a great documentary or art expo.