I met Angeleno sisters Kara and Brit Smith over grapefruit tea on the Bricks & Scones terrace in Larchmont Village this past Wednesday. Rising Star photographer Danielle DeFoe was kind enough to introduce me to these two lovely seductresses over email, and we soon enough made a date to chat & take a peek at their mind-blowing 27-skus debut collection, modeled by the stunning Z Berg. First of all, it felt like I was catching up with old girlfriends: they are vibrant, beautiful, funny and we were totally on the same page. Second… seems like their collection was made for me. If you know anything about my life, then you’re aware that I spend over ten hours a day in front of my laptop, writing my life away in cute panties and a tank, or nightie. Why get dressed when you don’t have to go to the office, right? Keep your business in the boudoir, I say…
But what if sexy lingerie could also be worn as outerwear? That’s the concept behind Elkin.
Much LOVE, I’m sold.
LF: Tell us a little bit about Elkin.
KARA: It all started as lingerie and it just evolved. Brit loves lingerie… she’s lived in Paris; she loves it; she collects it; she loves sex; she loves kinky shit. On my end, I used to get wasted and fall asleep in my clothes every night, so we kind of just eventually combined the two. Our line consists of pieces you could consider as lingerie statement pieces – technically lingerie and intimates – but also stuff that I could wear out and be ok falling asleep in at the end of the night.
BRIT: The idea was that each season, you can be a different character, and you can kind of roleplay and have that sexy variety in your clothes and in your life… And then we put literature in the mix. We want it to be art-based, so that each season is inspired by a different literary genre. On the hang tags for each piece, we give the buyer a reading list and a music list that pertains to that genre.We’re launching with gothic romance.
KARA: Everything’s just kind of hidden. The dresses that look like they’re just a dress actually double up as robes or they’re really two pieces. So you take off one layer and it’s a little sheer slip that you go to bed in.
BRIT: And we design the clothes so that there really isn’t any hardware on it – so it doesn’t hurt when you fall asleep in it. We only have a zipper on maybe one dress, and we don’t have any buttons. It’s all really soft and form-fitting, so it’s comfortable to crash in.
LF: What’s up with the mask?
BRIT: I love masks, I have a fascination with them. We do a mask for each collection, it’s a statement piece to represent the theme.
KARA: This one is leather and lace, it’s a black leather face piece with lace horns – it’s totally trippy. We didn’t plan on this being a huge seller at first, because it’s so costume-y and weird, but surprisingly it’s been what all the magazines have wanted to pull, and I feel like certain specialty intimate, avant-garde boutiques would want to buy it. And if so, we’ll produce it. We have this genius assistant who hand-makes them for us – she’s unreal – so however many she can make, we’ll sell.
LF: Where do you seek inspiration?
KARA: Everywhere; we get it from like taco trucks with little Christmas lights on them, and a lot of the muted colors around us in Echo Park I think we’re really playing on for folklore. We’ve always gotten inspiration from the most random places.
BRIT: Music you hear and words you see kinda give you a visual. We took a lot from our reading list: Mary Shelley, Bram stoker… All the cool kinda gothic greats.
LF: If you could have one person wear the gothic romance collection, who would it be?
KARA: Funnily enough when we were designing it, we kind of were thinking about how it was going to be styled and shot and we knew (well we were praying that) Z would model for us. So I think that a lot of the pieces were kind of created with her in mind, and how creepy and rad she would look. I think if we could have anyone wearing it, I think your dream is Lou, right?
KARA: Lou Dillon is like her idol.
BRIT: She would look so rad in everything. I think she’s super cool looking and I love her style.
KARA: I honestly think any really skinny hot girl who likes getting naked and smoking cigs would look really good in this collection.
BRIT: These clothes are made for someone who is confident for also for someone who wants to explore that side of things. Like she (Kara) doesn’t love lingerie but these clothes get you excited about wearing it because it’s not just straight up garter belts, it’s like you’re wearing that sexy outfit without trying too hard, cause it’s interesting and it’s artsy. The little lace romper we paired with high jeans for the shoot but it’s actually just a little one piece lace thing that you’re supposed to wear to bed. You can go either way.
KARA: Like she (Brit) totally is an exhibitionist so she would be comfortable with straight up lingerie but I’m not so much but I would totally rock all the pieces we made and I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in them.
LF: Can you describe your creative process?
BRIT: There was a lot of trying to balance our visions.
KARA: We’ve definitely fought as much as we’ve loved and laughed during this production. We’re like the Oasis brothers right now. We’ve literally almost come to blows, it’s been really hard. You’re not working for someone anymore, so you care about it a lot more. It’s also a whole lot more scarier because this is it, this is your baby. We’re so protective over this line and we need it to be so right, that we end up questioning each other constantly.
BRIT: Like screaming matches, but five minutes later we are connected again, starting our next piece.
KARA: We would never let anyone else in the entire world in on this process, but we do this thing – and we always have since we were younger – where we completely create these scenarios, these as-ifs. We can explain to each other what’s happening to this girl, what she’s wearing and where she is. If you could hear what we’re thinking… (laughs) It makes so much sense to each other, but it would be so embarrassing to say out loud to anyone else.
BRIT: We have such a short hand, knowing someone all your life. I can just say a word and she gets the entire image of what I’m trying to go for.
KARA: And mistakes have been our friend so far, they’ve worked really well for us. It’s our first collection and all the mistakes that have happened, we’ve ended up loving, thinking they’re just absolutely beautiful and rad.
LF: How did you come up with the name?
KARA: I remember how it came up. You were in the shower and I was sitting on the toilet talking to you.
BRIT: We made it up. We were going through this weird obsession with elk and antlers, and then we’re kin, we’re sisters, so we just decided on Elkin.
KARA: Sister elk. Totally in our own world.
LF: How do you LIVE FAST?
KARA: I lived fast for a really long time, I think I live a little slow now.
BRIT: I would not say you live slow… I think you used to lived super fast, and maybe you’ve just slowed down. Right now we just never put our work away. My mind is always going, it’s never off. That’s what happens when you’re working on something creative that’s yours, versus working for someone else. We’re constantly thinking of new ideas and trying to get the word out there.
LF: Fashion talk: How would you describe your style? What inspires you?
BRIT: I’m really inspired by the French attitude as well as really smart, well-read artistic women. I love taking my clothes off. If I could wear gorgeous lingerie all day everyday.
KARA: I’m inspired by things that are really messy. I don’t feel comfortable at all in my skin if I’m put together. When I go to get my hair done, I just tell them to just fuck it up as much as they can. I feel most beautiful when I’m flawed and a little off. And my friends really inspire me in terms of fashion. Just L.A., I guess. I’m totally L.A., to the core.
LF: Art talk: What inspires you? Favorite artist or work
BRIT: I like Mark Grotjahn, he’s brilliant, and he’s a good friend of ours. He just did an exhibit with Murakami and he shows at the MOCA.
KARA: John Currin is one of my favorites.
LF: Sex talk: What gets you off? Literally or figuratively.
BRIT: Paris, literature and my boyfriend.
KARA: I don’t know, I guess I’m a little jaded, I don’t really get off that much…
LF: Travel talk: Favorite destination or travel stories you want to share?
BRIT: I love traveling, I think it’s so important, and sadly in America not enough people own passports. I really like New Zealand, which is kind of weird, because it’s not a place that I’m particularly inspired by in terms of arts and fashion, but it’s just a beautiful good place to go to regroup and chill out.
KARA: I love love love Portugal. Looks like a dilapidated movie set, so inspiring. Also Santorini, or anywhere in the Greek Islands.
The collection is available for pre-order at TENOVERSIX.