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Behind The Scenes

Louisa Parris Plays Favorites in London and San Francisco

Although Louisa Parris’s family hopped around a bit when she was a kid (oh, hi, Dubai), London is her home: She studied fashion at Central Saint Martins, where she won the womenswear collection award upon graduation. Right about then, she also fell in love, and, in 2005, moved out to San Francisco with her now husband Chris, who had landed a sweet gig at Apple. Now the sophisticated Brit has fully embraced the SF scene…but she also gets back to London as much as she can manage. These are her must-hits in both cities. BARLondon / The Nightingale: “This is five doors down from my family home, and I think I’ve been going there before I was legal! At Christmas, it’s amazing—filled with friends, locals, and dogs.” [pictured]San Francisco / Lone Palm: “It’s small with a great atmosphere—white tablecloths with black-and-white movies always playing in the corner. This little place gets packed, but I love it—and, again, it’s a short walk from my apartment.” MUSIC VENUELondon / Wilton’s Music Hall: “I got married here this time last year for a second time. My husband and I always promised we would do it again for friends and family—the first time, Chris and I went to San Francisco City Hall in 2006. This is the oldest music hall in London, and it’s right in the heart of the city. I’ve yet to see a gig here, but I will one day I’m sure. You can even go on a guided tour—there is so much history to the place.” [pictured]San Francisco / Bimbo’s 365 Club: “Seeing live shows in San Francisco is a huge part of going out here. Bimbo’s 365 is a stunning venue—I’ll never forget seeing Feist three or so years ago. The whole sound system went out, and Feist did this amazing gig with only a few lights on and very little sound support. It gave you shivers down your arms it was so atmospheric.” PARKLondon / Clapham Common: “This is where I go for a lazy afternoon of reading the papers, sitting with friends, and watching the world go by. Recently, they restored the grandstand, it looks very beautiful even without a band.”San Francisco / Crissy Field: “If I could go down there every weekend, I would. Going right up under the Golden Gate Bridge on a cold, sunny day with the water right next to you is amazing and just so different from everything I grew up around in London.” [pictured] PLACE TO SEE ARTLondon / Victoria and Albert Museum: “I’ve been going there since I was little and even showed my gowns in a fashion show in the Raphael Galleries. You can easily spend hours lost in the rooms and corridors of such an old museum.”San Francisco / Legion of Honor: “I do love all our galleries in SF, and we have some really big ones. But lately I prefer the Legion of Honor. It’s much smaller, and I like to go when it’s quiet.” [pictured] TEALondon / Fortnum & Mason: “Whenever I’m home, I have to do a tea run to Fortnum & Mason—not only to buy tea but also to see the window displays, which are amazing visual feats.” [pictured]San Francisco / Martha & Brothers Coffee: “When my husband and I arrived in Noe Valley six years ago, this was the first place we went for tea and coffee, and we still go every day. I even send Martha’s coffee back to family in London and Paris—they are all addicted!” Don’t miss out on the wear-anywhere edition she made for us. Get on our email list.
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Louisa’s Hat-Making Bestie

When Louisa Parris needed hats for her graduate collection as a student at Central Saint Martins, she turned to Laela Barnard, a friend who’s been by her side since childhood. And when she decided to launch a collection of high-minded scarves and hats to accompany her gala-worthy gowns—well, no surprise here: Laela was her go-to girl. “It’s like history repeating itself—her parents were designers, and they were working in Dubai with my mom and dad. And now we’re collaborating,” Louisa explains. “We get along like sisters.” Here, a look at their relationship through the years—because there are few things we love more than grade-school pictures. “Here we are putting on a show in the garden in Bath, England. Not sure why I’m tap-dancing while Laela is in full wedding outfit with jelly shoes!” “I spent many wonderful summer holidays out in France with her. Here, we’re sitting on the hood of Laela’s dad’s lovely old Citroen.” “This is one of the first hats Laela did—for my collection at Central Saint Martins. It’s made from black crinoline and edged in satin bias binding.” “This is my favorite hat Laela did for my most recent collection—the Windsor Pillbox Hat. I only sent her one sketch, and then she created the most beautiful work. I’m very lucky to work with such a talented, wonderfully close friend.” Louisa’s edition comes out tomorrow! For a reminder, click here.
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Louisa Parris Puts it All on Paper

For Louisa Parris, the digging and logging is half the fun. As she started concepting her first collection of attention-grabbing silk hats and scarves, she filled up a notebook. “I’ve always loved research—finding your themes, sketch-booking, going to libraries and galleries, and building this bible of what your collection is going to be about,” the San Francisco-based Brit explains. Here’s the road she went down to get to her standout accessories. Louisa dreamt up a special scarf just for us! Click here to make it yours. “I spent quite a bit of time growing up in Bath, England. It’s Jane Austen country. We would go down to the parks there and watch hot air balloon racing. I’ve never seen it since, but I just had such a strong impression of it from when I was quite small. A couple of years ago, I came across an article on hot air balloons and their prints and patterns. I love the lightness of them—particularly because I work a lot in silk. I thought, ‘I must do that collection on hot air balloons someday.’” “All my gowns are named after women in my life. This time, because I wasn’t doing clothes, I wanted something different. Because they were balloons—and because you could tie a scarf really beautifully—I used names of different knots.” “I’m always looking for color references. I was traveling with girlfriends around Morocco, and in one of the souks, a guy had all these silks in bundles. I bought every color. I don’t unravel them—I just use them as another guide because with the Pantone books, you can’t get the iridescent feel you do with silk.” “For the Of a Kind scarf, I wanted really rich jewel tones. The names of some of the colors are really cool—minty green, robin’s egg blue, Nile blue, blush. And I always have some black in my work.”
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