THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, got to catch up with British model, writer and photographer as well as our recent collaborator Laura Bailey. In case you missed their live conversation about the new Iris & Ink capsule collection, dressing up to feel good, and taking inspiration from everything shopping — we made sure to save some of the best bits…
Claudia: Hi! You look so glamorous, look at that amazing eyeliner! And welcome to your first Instagram Live as well, I’m so proud and excited to be taking you on this journey.
Laura: Absolutely my first, anything could happen. I’ve locked the kids out, the dogs out, my friends helped me turn off all kind of things on my phone.
Claudia: Thank you so much for joining us and it’s a really exciting day for THE OUTNET, because your collaboration collection with Iris & Ink, which is our in-house brand, has launched on-site today. And, it’s absolutely beautiful, do you want to describe to people who are watching a little bit about the collection?
Laura: Yeah, today is really exciting, this is a project that the seed of it was last Christmas when we were really living in a different world. It’s been a huge journey, some of it through lockdown, you know, working in really different, new ways but at its essence I was inspired by the things I love; by film, by vintage style, by my travels, by my girlfriends. And so, it’s been really exciting for me to see it all come together and, and I think also talking about style and especially dressing-up style in these times is… well, it feels like a real treat tonight but also it feels, it feels different, you know? So, it’s more like an escapist fantasy.
Claudia: I was going to ask you a little bit about that, about the psychology of dressing up. So, the pieces in the collection could be described as occasionwear in the sense that they’re beautiful black dresses. Like you said, all sort of vintage-inspired, but in these funny times that we’re living in, you’ve described it as this sort of escapism, but I definitely think there’s a psychology behind dressing up and the way it makes you feel. Do you feel like that element of dressing up makes you feel more confident?
Laura: Yeah, definitely. For me, if I make a bit of an effort, it’s a kind of self-care, it’s a kind of creative process and self-care. I know I’m gonna have a better day if I, you know, at least brush my hair. Talking about occasionwear, for me, all the kind of lines are blurred now. I’m perfectly capable of making a little black dress very scruffy, very real, kind of walking the dog. So, I’m kind of into really mixing it up with no rules and not saving things for their best and just having fun with fashion as well. I’m as likely to be wearing this dress with a big jumper and my doc martens, as I am with a pair of heels. So, I really, really wanted this to be forever and to work with everybody’s individual style and to feel easy and cool and relaxed.
Claudia: You are obviously famous for your personal style, and you have got that sort of amazing eclectic way of mixing high-low, designer and streetwear, vintage and something brand-spanking new together. Do you have in mind this type of woman that you want to be wearing this collection for Iris & Ink?
Laura: Not really because it’s every woman. I mean, I was designing in the earliest phases, if I’m honest, I was thinking about my best friends with all different body types, all different working worlds and really wanting them to be happy and to find something that made their heart sing. I wanted it to be a forever element of a working wardrobe, you know? And to feel like a treat. And I think, occasionally if I’m feeling a bit down or, you know, can’t see my friends, everything’s in flux. I will dress up; I will have a glass of champagne and I will treat myself. Even on my own! I’m not adverse to a private party.
Claudia: So, you’ve alluded to work, and I would describe you as a bit of renaissance woman. You’ve obviously modelled and you’re a photographer, you’re what I would think of as a true creative, a storyteller. You’re a Contributing Editor at British Vogue. If you had to try and describe the polymath that you are, how would you pigeonhole your career?
Laura: It’s complicated! I try to avoid all labels because I’m the kind of person that whatever I’m doing, I’m really in the moment and I have found… you and I have talked about this before Claudia, but I have found as I’ve got older, all of my creative worlds cross-pollinate and feed each other.
Claudia: Do you feel like a pressure, in terms of what you choose to wear every day, to represent yourself? I’m basically trying to work out how you get dressed every day because your style is so iconic and gorgeous. I want to see if I can steal it essentially, if there’s a formula.
Laura: Well, your very kind but I’m not going to lie — I might pick up my son’s hoodie from yesterday. I’m also the kind of person that gets obsessions like crushes and I’ll wear the same pair of jeans for a week because I fall in love. But, in terms of style and rules I’ve always been a completely impulsive, mood-driven kind of person. I’m inspired by so many different worlds. By my girlfriends, by film, by music, and actually even by my son’s skate-club culture and all different worlds. But it does mean that my style is genuinely so mix-and-match. But it’s also kind of a gut impulse thing.
Claudia: I also think, you come from quite an academic background, so you’ve got quite a cerebral approach to clothes in how you’re absorbing literature references or classic films or travel experiences and you’re sort of merging it together. Would you say that’s true?
Laura: Yeah, I would. I would say that’s true somewhat on a subconscious level. I love absorbing influences wherever I go and that might be. But I am always cross-referencing films I love, poetry I love… I don’t really think about it or analyze it, it’s just the way my brain works. But I am interested in style as storytelling, as you know, working out our histories and telling the stories of our times. And I think especially now, I talk to most of my girlfriends, most of us are wanting less but special things, things that are meaningful, things that are gonna last for a lifetime. You know, I’m still wearing things that I bought as a student.
Claudia: You’re lucky that you can still fit into those! My metabolism post-children hasn’t been so kind. But I do think that ethos is true. I do think that people want to buy less, buy better and really cherish those pieces.
Laura: And also, something that speaks to you. You know, that has an emotional impact. You know, I was thinking about vintage shopping and I’m not somebody that goes… well, maybe a little bit of hunting for Chanel! But I’m not somebody that’s lured by designer labels, it’s just something that makes me smile, that connects with me.
Claudia: I also wanted to talk, because I know that this is really important to you as an Ambassador for Save the Children, about the fact that 10% of proceeds are going from this collection to the charity. Can you tell people a little bit about your work with the charity and what it means to you?
Laura: Sure. I’m really proud of my long-term Ambassadorship with Save the Children. I’ve travelled with them, I’ve collaborated on many projects, I’m a huge supporter of their work. And I really felt with this special project, I want it to be unapologetically about style and the fantasy of going out and you know, to really feed into all my passions and references. But, I also wanted to give back. And, it made total sense to me that a percentage of sales would go to support my long-term relationship with Save the Children. And it makes me feel good that somebody can treat themselves to a beautiful dress, especially in these tough times, but also know that they’re doing something to help those most vulnerable. And, I’ve never been more grateful for community — when I say that I mean my gang of amazing girlfriends but also my wider community. One of my best friends teased me because I’m like the crazy lady of Portobello where I’m always like ‘hi!’ It makes me feel like I live in a village, it makes me feel supported, makes me feel held. And, it’s really important to me.
Claudia: I also wanted to know about, what piece from the collection would you recommend for a younger girl, or is there a piece in there that you feel suits a certain type of person? Because I think they’ve all got real personality the pieces in the collection, don’t they?
Laura: I hope so, I really wanted, even by naming them, they are sort of actors for inspiration but they are also some of my best friends. So, there’s some mystery there. But, I’ve got a 12-year-old daughter going on 16 and for her, The Edie mini dress was the natural choice. It was very sweet seeing her try it on. But, it’s so personal, I love a trouser suit. I’ve called it The Lauren for Lauren Hutton, I love her tomboy style. For me, a dress or a suit should be for an adventure, not for a cocktail or a dinner.
Claudia: I would say to go and look at THE OUTNET, look at the collection. Because I think like Laura was saying earlier, all the pieces can be styled in your own personal way. So, even some of the more kind of like… the velvet cross-over gown that you’re wearing this evening. It’s got pockets! And you could kind of wear it with trainers if you wanted to…
Laura: I’m really into layering them up, making them your own. Not being too precious. Yeah, and especially, and this dress which would be quite glamorous for a special night, you know, I have been stomping around in my Doc Martens in it, with a big jumper over the top. So, I like things deconstructed, really lived-in, really cherished forever in your own way. I’m not somebody that thinks of things, you know, occasions or rules, I really love the idea of mixing it up and feeling good.
Claudia: Well, we’re all really grateful to you Laura for collaborating with us on the Iris & Ink project and It looks absolutely gorgeous. And, we’re so grateful to you as well for giving us your time this evening to talk about the collection.
Laura: Thank you so much Claudia. Thank you!
“I was already on the path to addiction to tennis, but then it got serious. So, while my friends were baking and I don’t know, being creative, I’m just really proud of my backhand.”
Relaxing with a good book or film
“I’ve surprised myself by being quite up to speed with The Undoing — which I’m finding really gripping, it’s kind of a guilty pleasure. I’ve also kind of loved photobooks and interior books. I love Tyler Mitchell’s new book I Can Make You Feel Good. I loved what my friend Alex Eagle’s put together, on a new, inspiring interiors book. It’s beautiful and inspiring and I just read David Bailey’s autobiography Look Again which was a dive into fashion history really.”
“I cycle everywhere, I always have. There’s a lot of things I want to do next year when I’m allowed, but also I’m really into making this period as good as it can be and into exploring closer to home.”