Founder, Laura Mehlinger
How/Where did it all begin?
I’ve wanted to design lingerie since probably before that was a reasonable interest. When I was a child, I taught myself garment construction and how to draw and design, and then decided to focus on another love, English literature, at Harvard. While there, I combined my love of fashion with academics and created a line of womenswear—which was a bit unconventional on that campus. After university, I designed womenswear for the Gap before starting Lola Haze TM. I named Lola Haze TM after the title character in the novel Lolita, which I wrote my thesis about and which continues to intrigue and inspire me.
How would you describe your Style?
I find and quirkiness—visual and otherwise—inspiring and am driven in my designing by the idea of surprise. I think true style is the ability to mold juxtapositions: elegance and kitsch, innocence and seduction, playfulness and sophistication, and for lingerie, public and private.
Do you have a Muse?
I design not for one particular muse, but for any woman who is playful, confident, loves the transformative power of clothing, and dresses for herself. I love lingerie because it dances between public and private domains. It can be a woman's own secret that makes her feel special or something beautiful for display. She can wear Lola Haze TM as underwear, loungewear, or outerwear.
What Fabrics do you use and why?
I love to colorblock and mix fabrics, often silk charmeuse or chiffon with stretch lace or mesh. This creates more visual and textural interest, I think, and has the additional design benefit of feeling luxurious while offering exceptional fit and comfort. I also focus on artisanal hand-crafted elements to make a garment truly special, like individually hand-dyed items and hand painted details. Lola Haze TM is designed and produced with love in New York City.
Travels-where have you been, where would you like to go and why?
I love to travel and do it whenever I can! I took a year-long solo trip around the world, which was inspiring for my work and also just a huge amount of fun. For Fall/Winter 2011, I was inspired by a trip to Thailand and Laos, where I was entranced by the intricate ornamentation of sacred places—and especially the gold! I loved that every golden temple was a community’s greatest expression of artistry and its sacred keepsake—part of every member’s heritage. I wanted to channel that feeling for that collection.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The wonderful thing about being a designer is getting to experience interesting or beautiful things in life, then channel them into visual concepts, and then interpret them into actual goods for other people to bring into their own lives and enjoy. Inspiration comes to me in everything from Morris Louis’s “Colorfield” paintings to vintage Art Deco furniture to Prince concert lighting. Bringing disparate experiences to one coherent visual idea is the most interesting part of the design process.
Home Town-what you miss about it if you do not live there anymore. What is the best thing about it if you do?
I live and work in New York City, my adoptive home. It’s a community seething with energy and creative friction, and is a source of constant inspiration for me.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“You gotta know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em.” Also, “Wear lipstick.”
What is your happiest memory?
As a child, I would sit in my mother’s closet and just sort of swim through all those beautiful hanging dresses. I loved the variations in how their fabrics felt against my skin. I also would wear several skirts of hers at once and adorn my hair with 15 barrettes at once. Sometimes more is more.