Our Creative Director Gail Elliott talks about her career from Super model to Fashion Designer.
Tell us how Little Joe Woman came about? What made you launch your own brand?
I was extremely fortunate to enjoy a successful 24 year career as a model based in New York in the 80s and 90s but had begun to feel a need to express my learnings and fashion thoughts and feelings creatively. Having worked with so many of the most creative and powerful fashion designers, photographers, magazine editors, stylists, hair & make up artists and models in the business as a fashion model myself, I came to appreciate quality, luxury and how beautiful clothes make a woman feel. My first designs were very simple little silk slip dresses and camisoles. Pieces that I needed for myself and couldn't seem to find in stores at the time - there were many vintage pieces out there but the fit or fabric was always wrong. The ones I designed and produced worked with my hectic travel schedule - they were easy to pack yet great to wear and made me feel good. My mission with Little Joe Woman is to connect with women - for me the Little Joe Woman appreciates luxury, she's chic, she prefers quality over quantity, she's subtly sexy, she's a busy person, she enjoys travel and loves life...just like me!
What inspired some of the pieces in your collection? I love animal print, I love lace and I love leather and the combination of these inspire the start of a collection. There are limitless combinations and adding a girly floral print with a soft beige suede or black leather bootie with a butter soft leather gives a 'borrowed from the boys' feel to the brands off-duty-model aesthetic.
What were some of the difficulties or setbacks?
As with any business that you're starting, everything's a learning experience. I came from a modelling background and although I was extremely involved in the fittings, shooting campaigns and walking in runway shows for all the most experienced and successful designers - everyone from Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, Versace, Valentino, Chanel and Tom Ford to Azzedine Alaia and Marc Jacobs and every other designer in the 80s and 90s, when starting Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott I had to learn so much about the actual business side. I knew nothing about how to calculate margins or wholesale and retail prices, production, sampling, pattern cutting, grading, fabric consumption, wholesale, hiring staff and so much more - it was certainly a huge learning experience and still is....I'm always discovering something new.
Have you been involved across all aspects of your business when you launched, what was this like?
I've always been extremely involved with
all aspects of the business, in fact the brand started with my husband and business partner, Joe Coffey who is the CEO and myself as Creative Director and we are still the people running our business - with the help of some key managers we've put
Where do you draw most of your inspiration?
I'm inspired everyday by my life, things I see, people I meet, the places I travel to and the conversations I have, so I gather information for the next collections months before we have to put them down on paper. I also design for myself, my friends and my customers so in a way design what I feel I'd like to be wearing next season.
What has been your 3 favourite piece so far in your collection?
I couldn't name just three favourite pieces but I'd say dresses from our collections are the most popular and favourite pieces whether they're short denim wrap dresses, flowing floral or leopard printed maxi dresses or silk chiffon cocktail dresses. They're good quality and timeless pieces that you can pull from your wardrobe time and time again and never get tired of.
What materials do you work with, where do you source these? We work with silk, viscose crepe, cotton, lightweight denim, silk chiffon which are sourced from all over the world. We also incorporate some beading or embroidery into our designs and use local Balinese artisans.
Your biggest career highlight?
Fashion icon Carine Roitfeld featured our brand in C.R Fashion Book saying "...perfect for a woman on the go - a woman like Carine Roitfeld who doesn't pack a suitcase without one of Elliott's slips." We also regularly have Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Eva Hertigova, Yasmin Le Bon, Helena Christiansen wearing our brand. All these women can wear any designer clothing they'd like to so I feel extremely flattered when they choose to wear my brand.