Olivia von Halle’s pajamas exude yesteryear’s perfume, a blend of vintage Hollywood and Chinese porcelain. Her inspirations are rooted in a time between wars. A time of restraint that resonates with what we are experiencing today. A complicated time when beauty sometimes hides in the details, in the quality of a fabric, in the interiors. We imagine them worn by Diana Vreeland or the actresses of the RKO like Veronica Lake. The designer pushes sophistication by blurring the lines between the inside and the outside. Made of silk and velvet, with luxurious patterns and prints, they are lovely to wear in the evening after a long day enjoying tea. Slip off your house shoes and into a pair of sling backs for the perfect transition from daytime lounging to nighttime soirees. A versatility that attracts the digital age influencers and fashionista clients such as Ciara, Paula Abdul, and Chrissy Teigen. Keep reading as we profile this luxurious innovator and take a look at tips on how to amplify your luxury experience at home.
Meet the British designer Olivia von Halle
By working as a trend forecaster for clients including Louis Vuitton, Gucci Group, and Lamborghini, Von Halle noticed a breach. Before moving into this niche, she studied the market while continuing to work for big brands as a luxury brand consultant. Then, settled in Shanghai, the designer and entrepreneur started to design her idea of a perfect pair of pajamas. In 2011, she returned to London to launch the Olivia von Halle brand. Very quickly, opulent, glamorous, and chic would become her trademark by injecting a sense of refinement and good taste into our everyday life wardrobe. For All the Pretty Birds, this old soul who vows an absolute love for Coco Chanel, long baths, and the 1920s shares some tips for enjoying Christmas holidays despite the time of uncertainty we live in, without abandoning her English humor, of course.
Pictured: Designer Olivia von Halle
Amanda Winnie Kabuiku: Your luxurious loungewear draws inspiration from the 1920s and Coco Chanel. You created your eponymous line in 2011. Did you ever imagine that your pieces could be worn outside like any other dress?
Olivia von Halle: I’m always stunned by the improvisational style of the women who wear Olivia von Halle. We design with all sorts of moments in mind; it can be a wardrobe for the party and the after-party. For instance, we created a modern twist on the slip dress, the Issa, which was instantly popular. We revitalized the dress as an easily elevated take on a signature wardrobe staple. The sort of stylishly unassuming thing someone might sidle up to you at a wedding and ask, ‘where’s that from?’ With the right accessories, most elements of our collections are style friendly for any setting by someone with enough sartorial savvy!
AWK: Why do you think pajamas have found their place like they used to be? Why is it essential to incorporate glamour into an uncertain society?
OVH: [Pajamas] represent a kind of freedom, don’t they? And silk pajamas, real, luxuriously thick silk ones, represent a kind of decadence that one rarely sees now. I think that that speaks to our moment; snatching a chance of glamour, relishing control over one’s domain, and incorporating luxury wherever possible.
Pictured: Issa Slip Dress
AWK: How did your role as a former luxury brand consultant influence your decision to bring something new to the market? What ultimately led you to launch your own brand?
OVH: It helped me to spot or map out those uncharted areas of the industry, one of which was luxury loungewear. Working and living in Shanghai, I had an incredible tailor. He created the most heavenly pair of silk pajamas for my designs. I wore them constantly, they filled a gap in my wardrobe, and after all my friends started queuing up asking me to make them a pair too, I thought perhaps I was onto something. It was the slowest eureka moment, but I eventually realized that there was nothing else like them available at the time. This spurred me to move back to London in 2011 and launch the brand.
AWK: We were focusing on outdoor clothes then, suddenly, the international lockdown, and we were all stuck at home. What are your thoughts on quarantine, and do you believe it allows us to incorporate a little luxury into our daily lives? If so, how do you incorporate a sense of luxury in your Day-to-Day?
OVH: The quarantine can feel like groundhog day. I find that making those everyday things a little more special helps. I’ve upgraded my usual cup of earl grey tea to Mariage Frerés Earl Grey. French Blue, which rather tragically makes my monotonous morning a little more exciting! Likewise, a few drops of Olverum and a handful of Epsom salts in my bath every night can transform the experience. I’m not a big TV watcher, and pre-covid, and I am probably out five nights a week, so I struggle with endless Netflix. Last night, my husband and I decided to play cards instead and had a great game of canasta. Anything that breaks the feeling of monotony definitely helps. As we see these shifts in our ways of working and living, what we wear has begun to shift too; Olivia von Halle offers a modern wardrobe for the new normal, adds luxury, flair, style, and comfort for days that feel the same. It’s been incredibly challenging witnessing certain paradigms shift, but I think rays of hope have started to shine through too!
AWK: Olivia von Halle puts a particular emphasis on the print and the fabrics’ quality. What are your primary inspirations? How do your design decisions allow your customer to embrace their most elevated self?
OVH: One of the things that are distinct about Olivia von Halle is our design process. Our wardrobe is made to treasure, with a view to sustainability and integrity of materials. I want to make things that people treasure for a long time; we don’t consider a product truly complete until every detail is perfect. This can be exacting. Other brands may view it as a loss of resources, but in my opinion, it’s this rigor that gives each product its integrity. Prints are often a source of inspiration for my Design Director and I! We’ll start in the library, poring over the archives, diving back into historical references and images or storytelling around trailblazing women, whose styles or silhouettes inspire us.
AWK: Most brands have adapted to this situation and have offered a range of loungewear. Olivia von Halle is at the front of this movement. Has the demand and sales increased during this period of staying at home?
OVH: In a banner year for luxury leisurewear, we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have seen unprecedented demand in sales. I think, if we’re all homebound for the foreseeable, we might as well be so in real glamour! But we do miss the physical touchpoint with our clientele, whose support has been so incredible at this time, and whom we look forward to welcoming back at our flagship store at 190 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, when able.
AWK: We get the feeling you’re not afraid of challenges. Establishing a line that is pajama focused may have seemed unconventional at the time of its conception. These days, it is an essential element of our wardrobe that we do not consider enough. What is your response to the success with the brand for those who did not see the original vision?
OVH: Next year the brand celebrates its ten-year milestone—we’ve seen so much transformation, and yes, many challenges in that time. My team has been so alert to the challenges of this moment, and as our design or creative strategy has changed in 2020, amid what has been such a tough year. I feel fortunate that it’s played squarely and compellingly to our strengths. We used to spend half of our lives at home, now it’s significantly more than that—and our wardrobe ought to reflect that! With no compromise on luxury, of course.
AWK: The holiday season is just around the corner. We know it will not be extravagant and frivolous, as it was in previous years. What does a Luxurious Holiday look like for you during this time of restrictions? What are some of your favorite traditions at this time of year? Will anything change for you, and how?
OVH: I will treasure being able to spend time with my family. I love being able to recreate the traditions that I enjoyed growing up. From putting out the brandy butter for Father Christmas, to reading The Night Before Christmas tucked in bed. Those are luxuries to me! I’m grateful and fortunate that little has changed for us at this time. Otherwise, if I were a bit more extravagant, I would have all my girlfriends together to mine for a singalong led by my all-time favorite pianist, Carl Joseph. He’s incredible and can play anything—Christmas Carol or Elton John classic!
Images supplied by Olivia von Halle
Want to know more about Olivia von Halle’s work? Follow her on Instagram and check out her designs on her official online store.
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