Extended Play: Laura Lee Laroux of Revivall Clothing
As promised, here's the third of a series of longer Q&As with the designers featured in this week's fashion issue. More to come!
by Laura Lee Laroux, 31
What kind of clothes do you focus on?
I focus on clothes for men that are dapper and clothes for women that are pretty feminine, frilly, lacy, fun, bloomers.
Did you start with the bloomers? Or was that just what I saw first...
I think the bloomers have been my consistent product throughout my sewing, but yeah, I ... My stuff’s really changing right now so it’s kind of fun to see where I’m going to go with it. I think I’m going for more muted colors now, whereas I used to do a lot of really colorful bright stuff. That just doesn’t sell as well. But yeah, fun clothes like mostly dressy, so either festivals or parties or events. And then especially for men, vests and custom pants.
How long have you been designing clothes?
I graduated from FIT in 2003 and then I was sewing beore that, so ... what year is it? I would say probably at least ten years, 8 to 10 years.
Do you have a day job?
I own the Redoux Parlor. I actually, last year, worked full time in social work for Looking Glass at the homeless youth shelter, Station 7. So I used to have a full time job and the store and made clothes. I don’t know how! But now I just have the store and the clothes.
What are the clothes that they took photos of today?
They took a picture of the shower curtain dress. Which is awesome.
How did you get inspired to make a dress out of a shower curtain?
My friend’s mom lives in Alaska, my roommate’s mom, and she came down and she always comes to visit the shop. And she’s really into buttons and fabrics but she doesn’t really have time to make anything, which is actually how I get a lot of my fabrics. She saw my stuff and was like, “I have this shower curtain, and I’m never going to use it for a shower curtain, but it’s really pretty,” and she sent it to me and I just immediately, when I saw the shower curtain I saw the dress. Which is kind of rare for me. Usually it happens in a wave of, What’s gonna come out of this? But this was kind of like I saw it almost immediately.
From where do you draw inspiration?
I really, I think that a lot of the Eugene and Portland kind of gypsy-musician-performer crowd is where I get a lot of my inspiration. Especially now. And a lot of old stuff, like I really love ’50s housewife type things. I feel like my stuff is always kind of an attempt of an empowerment of the domestic side of women. If that makes sense. I feel like there’s actually a lot of respect that I have for people like my mom who totally took care of the house, had the job, cooked for us when she got home. I think it’s sad that women don’t get respected for that as much as they should because it’s a ridiculous amount of work. So ideally I make stuff that helps women feel really good and confident about themselves and is fun too.
So it’s kind of domestic inspired...
Domestic inspired and then a lot of old cowgirl, Wild West stuff and then Lucille Ball. It’s kind of weird. It’s the performer-gypsy side, the Wild West and then the ’50s housewife.
Are there other designers in town you particularly admire? Is there kind of a community of designers that you are part of?
Yeah. The people at the store and Mitra [Chester]. Her stuff is really amazing. And then there’s this whole group of people that do leatherwork, like this guy Ben and Rachel, their stuff really, really inspires me, just their style really inspires me. But they don’t really have lines of clothing, they just kind of make stuff to wear. Mostly, I think ... mostly Mitra and then there’s some people in Portland.
Do you think that your setup at the store has helped to build a community of designers in Eugene?
Oh, yeah. I mean, hopefully! That’s the goal.
Can you explain how that works?
So basically there are six designers that have studio space at the store, and then they work for five hours a week in the store. Then they get a larger percentage of the consignment stuff, that they sell of their stuff in the store, in hopes that it creates more personal involvement and so that it kind of becomes everybody’s store, because it’s just too much for me to do alone. And I’m really into community. And what’s really exciting is that one of the girls at the store, Aniela, I used to teach her. I taught her sewing classes at Wellspring. And then she was helping me sew my stuff, and now she has her own line of clothing. And now she’s about to go to fashion design school in Portland, too.
But it’s really nice to kind of see, especially within the shop — you can see people’s inspiration from each other, you know, and what people are kind of taking from each other but then revamping into their own style too. It’s really cool.
What are you working on next?
I realy want to focus on bike gear. I’d love to be able to make a skirt that’s ride-able, that you can ride your bike in. And I’m really inspired by tweeds rght now. And then velvet, so velvet and tweed are kind of going to be my thing for my fall collection.
And you do kind of work in collections, right?
I do. Just because I’ve actually had probably some of the most experience as far as a more professional base to start from, as far as working in collections and knowing what buyers are looking for and doing all the fashion shows and stuff. And I try to be consistent with that just because I feel like it’s a recognizable form that people will buy.
So what’s your goal with your — where do you want to be? Do you have a future plan for designing stuff?
I would love to have the store be more of a cooperative in the sense that I can even step back more. I’d also definitely like to continue with the teaching and learning aspect and kind of make it more of an open shop for designers to use and a place for designers to sell their stuff. And then I want to pick just a few things that are going to sell really well and focus on that, and move to the country so I only have to come into town a few days a week. And I want to have a treadle and maybe be doing samples of my stuff out on the farm. And then be able to have people at the studio produce it.
What’s a treadle?
The machine that [makes foot pumping motion] — no electricity.
Go a little off the grid with your sewing.
Yeah. I think that would be such a great balance for me, because it’s really hard to be involved in an industry that is really from a frame of mind that I don’t really subscribe to — but then still have that be my creative talent. I would love to be able to kind of blend both worlds into a perfect little balance.
Revivall Clothing is available at the Redoux Parlour.