In the world of fashion, there are designers and then there are innovators. I consider Laura Mehlinger to be firmly entrenched in the latter category. The Harvard graduate has brought a fresh perspective to glamorous lingerie with her Lola Haze brand, which defies categorization. Her retro-inspired intimates include camisoles and rompers that can easily be layered under ready-to-wear pieces for ensembles that take a woman from daywear into evening looks. Inspired by the title character in the classic novel Lolita, Laura’s designs reimagine classic lingerie silhouettes with a thoroughly modern design aesthetic that combines rich fabrications in unexpected ways that are both romantic and edgy. Her customer looks feminine and glamorous in dainty chemises, slips and camisoles paired with panty styles designed to flatter the wearer in fresh ways. Lola Haze features luxurious fabrics such as silk charmeuse, combined with unique applications of lace or mesh, in designs that make a woman feel like a siren. Black, sheers and sheen are common themes throughout the collection. If you want to sparkle and seduce, Lola Haze is a brand for you. I recently caught up with the globe-trotting Laura to get some insight into what motivates her design process for Lola Haze and she gave me a sneak peek into what her fans can expect in the Spring/Summer collection.
Margo Andros: Laura, Lola Haze is truly unique in the market. What inspired you to create the brand?
Laura Mehlinger: 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. I named Lola Haze after the title character in the novel Lolita, which I wrote my thesis about and which continues to intrigue and inspire me.
Margo: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Laura: I find 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.
Margo: Who is the Lola Haze customer?
Laura: I design not for one particular customer, 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 as innerwear, loungewear, or outerwear.
Margo: What are your favorite fabrics and colors?
Laura: I love to color block 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 is designed and produced with love in New York City.
Margo: What direction is Lola Haze taking with its 2013 Collection?
Laura: When I was designing Lola Haze’s Spring / Summer 2013 collection I traveled from New York City to Tokyo. In both places I found myself staring at peoples’ clothes on the street. My neck was exhausted by whipping from left to right as every outfit crossed my field of vision.
In Tokyo, more than New York, each girl was devoted from head to toe to a single fashion identity, though these identity groups were discrete and varied. So a funny visual thing would happen. In one visual field, I might see a neo punk girl, a Harajuku girl, and a new romantic girl brushing past each other. Together, they created a sort of style pointillism in which each person’s style expression contributed one pixel to a greater picture of a complex, vibrant city.
“The City,” Lola Haze’s Spring / Summer 2013 collection, takes its inspiration from the streets of two great cities, New York and Tokyo. I wanted to capture a variety of bold styles and unify them with hallmarks of Lola Haze’s design. Throughout the collection are body-revealing cut-outs, color-blocking, and pattern mixing.
The Philanthropist Group, opulent with mixed patterns of black lace, ivory silk and gold chains, represents a modern take on classic eveningwear. The Swagger Chemise and Teddy demand attention with their body-con silhouettes and architectural cutouts between the starkly contrasting black, white, and gold fabrics.
The Bomb Group includes a robe, chemise, teddy, bralette and thong. Its electric fuchsia, turquoise, ivory and lime bodies, punctuated with silver or black geometric elastic, were inspired by the layered colors and bold individualism of New York’s graffiti walls. The City Nights Chemise and Romper, made of color-blocked silk chiffon, are flirty, playful, and light as the air of a city summer night.
Margo: It all sounds very modern and cool. I can’t wait to see it. Thanks for the scoop on the upcoming season.
Laura: My pleasure, Margo. Thanks to you, too!
Ladies, you don’t need to wait until spring to stock up on some Lola Haze. We have a great selection of styles on ThePinkSlip.com that will make you look thoroughly glamorous and hip. Here are some of my favorites!