Studio Visit: Laurel Broughton of Welcome Companions

Welcome Companions introduces a new collection inspired by good times snacking in the park, making out on a polka dot blanket and falling asleep under the sun. Summer are you here yet?

Highlights include a toast-shaped shoulder bag, a butter-hued wallet, a strawberry clutch, a deck of cards and several variations of fabulous lip-shaped totes. We visited the line’s creator, Laurel Broughton, in her sunny Los Angeles studio to chat about the whimsical objects she creates, and her obsession with play. Photos by Kimberly Genevieve.

 Q&A

LF: You studied arts, architecture & literature, which later led you to fashion design. Can you talk about your journey?

LB: I think the primary aspect of my journey is that I’m interested in storytelling which is a significant aspect in all those disciplines albeit in different ways. In fashion I find it fascinating how the clothes and accessories begin to tell stories about the lives they inhabit.

LF: What inspires your designs?

LB: My designs often start with both a formal idea about shapes paired with a story idea. At the moment I’m very interested in how unexpected shapes can be transformed into functional accessories. As with Part-time Picnic, the shape of the Toast works so well as a shoulder bag. Usually it is one shape that starts everything off and the story and other pieces follow.

LF: Tell us more about Part-Time Picnic. What influenced the collections’ palette and shapes?

LB: It really started with the toast and evolved into a story about picnicking and how picnicking represents a moment of letting go and getting away from it all. I liked the idea of a group of accessories that would in a playful way allow the spirit of the picnic to be with you at all times. There are so many famous picnics in art and film but what I found that they share is a kind of saturated color palate and or an emotional saturation. In wonderful illustrations of the picnic in Wind and the Willows the colors are very deep, while in the film Picnic at Hanging Rock the colors aren’t saturated but the atmosphere of breaking with the rigidity of Victorian norms is. The shapes come from boiling down recognizable shapes to their most minimal aspect. The Strawberry is just the shape with the addition of the green stem. I’ve also tried to make them with the least amount of hardware possible so they really are just about the shapes and the colors.

LF: What are challenges and advantages of creating here in Los Angeles?

LB: Making things in Los Angeles is very important to me and there is a wonderful history of production in both fashion but also the production from the film industry. Through the film industry I’ve been able to contact some wonderful crafts people. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a leather craftsman who is very, very skilled particularly in techniques that don’t get used very much anymore such as the hard-sided pieces like Toast, Strawberry and Butter. He originally was a sculptor so he doesn’t flinch when I bring him my crazy shapes and concepts.

LF: What’s your favorite piece you’ve created so far since you started the line?

LB: Gosh, I love them all! Each one is so unique that they are all fun to use and have very different qualities. Conceptually the Hat from the Mr. Knife, Miss Fork story was a break through for me so that one holds a special place and it goes wonderfully with just about everything.

LF: What’s next for you?

LB: Right now I’m working hard on our Spring/Summer 2014 story refining the designs and sourcing all the materials. I just finished making a film for our Fall/Winter 2013 story called The Navy Yard Shuffle to act as our lookbook and loved the process. Hoping to fit more of that in!

Welcome Companions is available online on welcomecompanions.com as well as at Creatures of Comfort (New York & Los Angeles) and The Webster (Miami).


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