Spend one hour in a vintage store with Kelley Ash and you’ll surely come out with a rad pair of overalls, some crushed velvet bell bottoms, a crochet top and the biggest girl crush. A few months ago, the model & vintage curator turned me on to the fabulous Kathrin Smirke and her bohemian label, Gypsan. It is our pleasure to share a quick chat about the ladies’ first collaboration – and we have a feeling it wont be the last!
LF: Tell us a little bit about Gypsan and your design approach.
KS: When I started Gypsan, my mission was to design and produce clothing that would exceed my customer’s expectation. Many of our pieces are vintage inspired – made with recycled and limited-edition deadstock fabric. Also, we strive to make the highest quality clothing at affordable prices, manufactured right here in Los Angeles. We make our clothing in Los Angeles because we believe that social and environmental laws that grant more developed nations continuous access to clean drinking water, fair wages, fresh air, and safe working conditions should be embraced, not bypassed.
LF: You spend your time between LA and Joshua Tree and your aesthetic is all about the free spirit and bohemian vibes. What do you love the most about living / creating in Cali?
KS: Growing up in Europe, California gave me the opportunity to truly embrace my free spirit. Spending time between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, I meet so many inspirational people – from the most creative artists, to vibrant, determined entrepreneurs. Living around so many talented people has greatly influenced the way I choose to live my life and run Gypsan. Quite honestly, even though I love so many other places in the world, I think California is truly my home.
LF: Your dome in the desert is one of the most popular airbnb in JT. How did you come about it and why do you love hosting?
KS: I like to say that I didn’t find the dome, but the dome found me. After a birthday visit to Joshua Tree, my husband and I decided that we would start actively looking for a place in the area. I put up a wanted ad on Craigslist looking for an old homestead cabin. But, a few days later, the owner of an old 80’s built geodesic dome house emailed me expressing interest in selling. My husband and I drove to Joshua Tree the next day and we were in escrow two days later. We spent close to 10 months personally renovating the dome – everything from scraping the ceilings, installing kitchen cabinets and appliances, to building furniture and decorating.
Since we are mostly full-time Los Angeles residents, we would only be able to visit the dome periodically so we thought that it would make sense to share the property with other Joshua Tree visitors rather than let it sit vacant more than half of the year.
LF: How did you and Kelley meet and what turns you on about her?
KS: Kelley and I met during a Free People/Gypsan photoshoot at my dome in Joshua Tree. We got along really well and stayed in touch after the shoot. In fact, we even share the same birthday! What turns me on about Kelley is that she is not just beautiful on the outside but also on the inside. Working with Kelley was an absolute pleasure. Kelley brought her relaxed, yet ambitious spirit and she is truly a genuinely nice person.
LF: Can you talk a bit about your creative process when designing with her? What was the inspiration and how do you feel about how the jumpsuit collaboration turn out?
KS: Our design collaboration was inspired by a piece from Kelley’s vintage clothing collection. Once we perfected the fit, we sourced the fabric in Los Angeles. Originally, it was going to be a boho basic, but Kelley had the idea of incorporating lace into the design. This made it immensely more versatile – not only could the piece be worn as a standalone jumpsuit, but it would also be perfect as a bikini cover-up or intimate lingerie. One bride actually purchased the piece to wear at her wedding. It is always exciting to hear how our clothing compliments people’s lives.
All in all, we are both extremely pleased with how the jumpsuit collaboration turned out and I would certainly be open to another design collaboration with Kelley in the future.
Shop the collab & other lovely Gypsan dresses here!