I have been an ardent fan of Frances de Lourdes T-shirts since designer Alejandra Echeverria launched them a couple of years ago. (You can read my first interview with Alejandra here.) These aren’t throw away T-shirts, they are cut from various mixes of silk, cashmere, wool and cotton, slightly sheer which makes them sexy even though they’re simple, and an investment. They are T-shirts you should care for like you do a silk blouse or your favorite lingerie. And now for fall, Alejandra has added turtlenecks (silk + cashmere) to her line, a couple designs exclusive to Net-a-Porter. She invited me for a studio visit, which of course, I couldn’t resist. (And I also was so thrilled she used an older, stunningly beautiful, model for her latest campaign. Thank you Alejandra!)
Why turtlenecks? It seemed like a natural evolution and something we should have in the collection, just in terms of what we could offer for autumn, winter. We have six styles, two are exclusive to Net-A-Porter.
What are the styles? Basically there are two fits. One is a slimmer and is based off of our Romy tee, which is one of our best selling styles; it’s a nice slim long sleeve silhouette with a curve tongue at the bottom.That’s really a bit more of a layering piece. The other style is a looser, between a sweater and a T-shirt. I think more as something that you would wear perhaps with the camisole underneath or something like that. Because we’re more of an item based business one of the things I try to think about is all the different ways you can wear a certain style. With turtlenecks, I think about how you can layer them under sweaters for warmth, under blazers, with a camisole underneath, and under 70s style dresses to extend their wear.
What was the inspiration? I love your mood boards. One of the starting off points was an image of Mia Farrow by Avedon, which is of the back of her neck. Her neck feels very exposed and got me thinking about necklines, which was part of the focus of the fall collection, and just taking longer sleeve styles and playing with the necklines a bit.
And there is this photo of Katharine Hepburn on a sofa reading a book or maybe writing. She has on a turtleneck and sneakers with her feet up. That felt like an easy way to wear the looser turtleneck style. Hepburn wore a lot of turtlenecks and wore them really nicely, layered with a blouse underneath or a blouse on top or jackets on top. It feels fresh in a nice way to extend the life of a lot of other clothes.
I like the picture of Andy Warhol.
He wore a lot of black turtlenecks but this one specifically, it’s a little bit sheer, which is very much in line with ours. I really like the idea of wearing the slimmer turtleneck, cause it’s a bit sexier, with a velvet blazer on top of it and the little flower and having that as a go-to holiday time outfit. Just something easy.
Going back, when did you launch to Frances de Lourdes? Spring of 2017.
You’ve grown pretty quickly. It does feel like it, especially considering the first year was just on our website. But then definitely the wholesale end of it has taken off.
You make some of the most high end T-shirts out there. Do you feel like there’s been a barrier? I feel like women get it. Do you? And why? I think it’s a couple things. I think, one, there definitely has been a turn in the past few years towards these very classic pieces and investing in your clothes and good pieces that you can wear a lot. I also think there are other brands that have been pushing that and have helped educate customer. Second, I think they’re very emotional, when people put them on—I’ve been told, it changes their mood. I think if it changes your mood and it makes you happy, you’re likely to buy it and keep going back to those clothes.
It’s amazing that a t-shirt could make you feel that way but it can.
Good clothes do change your mood and make you feel cool, confident or sexy.
I think buy less, buy better is the way we have to be going forwards and the more people who design clothes that fit that ethos makes sense to me.
It’s definitely something I think about when designing the collection, it’s making sure that the pieces have longevity. If it’s something that I feel like we can be selling for years on end, that’s the goal.
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All studio images, Federica Dall’Orso for The Flair Index; turtleneck images on model, courtesy Frances de Lourdes.