when i first saw the product assortment for our july catalog, in a rare turn of events my eyes went straight to the boots. i’m really not a shoe person, and typically stick to flip flops or moccasins. but the boots in this catalog are incredible, and we have two different styles that i’m particularly fond of.
the freebird boots are a collection featuring three different boot styles (the haven distressed boot and hatchet harness boot are both online now) and exclusively made by hand for free people. our shoe buyer loved the slanted top, the distressed leather and the top quality construction with unique, eye-catching details like hand-painted welts and studded backing. this style is perfect for toughening up a girlier look:
the luxury jones boots actually have a story that goes back to the bonnaroo festival last summer. a group of us fp girls were there and spotted this girl on the left wearing a pretty amazing pair of boots. we had to stop her and take her photo! our shoe buyer loved them as well, and a year later, we have our very own version :) the luxury jones boots are constructed using vintage western style boots and belts. since each shoe is handmade, every pair will have its own unique variations. these boots make quite a statement, and we love them paired with a more casual look to funk it up!
it started when our creative director discovered the sisters of the black moon and began printing their lookbook photos from various tumblrs and blogs like cosmic dust and sun in scorpio, and hanging them for inspiration. she didn’t realize the photography was current- their decayed, weathered look led her to believe they were vintage 70s shots. then one day last year she received an email from the photographer, alexandra valenti, and was shocked to find that she was a living person from this time period! alexandra found us since we were working with her friend leslie crow from heyoka leather, who she also shoots with. immediately we knew we had to work with this photographer – and the rest is history!
read on for an interview with the beautiful soul alexandra valenti and see some of the amazing outtakes from our july catalog shoot.
When and why did you first get into photography?
I started pretty young and always loved it. After I finished college, I moved to NYC and assisted fashion photographer, Sante D’orazio. I didn’t know anything about the fashion world and not that much about the technical side of photography, at least not at that professional level – I was the WORST assistant ever. He’d probably tell you that too. But he and I became very dear friends and I paid attention and learned so much. I thought I’d end up making movies, so I moved to LA and wrote scripts, but I didn’t like how long it took to make something (which is, it took FOREVER). And that frustrated me beyond belief. So I moved to Austin and I went back to photography, and started to develop a style and a voice in images in a quiet way, on my own time. I’m a very, very late bloomer.
We all love your work with the Sisters of the Black Moon. How did you guys meet?
I think we met at Alecia’s birthday party at a place called Shangrila in Austin. I knew who they were, and I had major girl crushes on them! We started hanging out and soon after I asked them if I could take pictures of them at a swimming hole nearby.
Do you have a favorite moment from the Free People catalog shoot?
It was all so great! I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and I”m so insanely grateful for it. I feel like I made new friends, it wasn’t just a job, you know? That’s a pretty special experience to have – I didn’t want the shoot to end. Doub is my hero. What a beautiful, generous, loving woman… all of my friends fell in love with her. I kinda wanna put her in my pocket and take her with me everywhere. And I just loved all the models – Ashley Smith was a dream, I’d shoot her everyday of the week if I could! I guess, one of the best moments, though, was when the band was playing as I was shooting. All my friends were there, it felt so comfortable, it was a love fest from the get go! That and the last night when we went to eat at the Mexican restaurant, and we shut it down. They were sweeping up around us :)
If you had a time machine, where would you go?
The future to see if everything I dream about comes true.
Or back when I was struggling to tell myself it’s all gonna be just fine. Ha!
Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Old paperback book covers from the 60′s and 70′s.
Who are some of your personal favorite photographers/artists?
Oh man, there are so many. Maybe the anonymous photographers from the turn of the century or family snap shots that were shot with Polaroids in the 60′s and 70′s. As for fine artists, I’d say self-taught, outsider artists – people who make art, houses and furniture out of scrap material.
What music are you listening to right now?
Two things: My Willie Nelson Pandora station.
And my rooster crowing in the garden. He’s a mean punk ass SOB.
But his crow kills me, so funny. Except at 4:30 in the morning. That’s when I wanna ring his neck.
Autobiography of a Yogi and the Bhagavad Gita, the Eswaren translation.
Both changed me immeasurably.
What do you love most about living in Austin?
You don’t have to drive very far to get anywhere… the swimming holes (when there’s not a drought!)…and the people, my friends. There’s a real sense of community here. I’ve never felt that way about any other city I’ve lived in.
Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
Hmm, I don’t know, I’m kind of honest to a fault. I feel like as I get older I realize I’m like everyone else… same fears, a dreamer… I’m no better, no different than anyone else. I wear my heart on my sleeve most the time and pretty wide open about my feelings… man, sounds so boring. I should have more secrets. I’ll work on that.
view the july catalog shot by alexandra valenti in its entirety, right here.
Our assistant web merchandiser was amazingly styled again today! She looks so free and happy in her flowing teal dress and ruffled flower-print tank. The dress, a piece from the Free People Convertibles Category, is one of her favorites for mixing and matching. Today, she layered it perfectly with a feminine tank, but she said she’s also been able to dress it up for formal events with a pretty pair of shoes, wear it as a belted casual dress, and, in colder weather, paired it with a cozy sweater. What she loves most about it? The bright and cheerful color =)
What perfects the outfit though, is that straw hat! She picked it up at a sample sale not too long ago, and it’s just right for the sunny day we’re having here today. You can tell it got her in a good mood, because she laughingly shared one of her favorite cheesy jokes with me. I’m giggling at my desk just thinking of it. Thought you’d all enjoy a little chuckle too, so, “have you heard?”
do you guys remember the beautiful braid elsa hosk had in our may catalog? one of our amazing home office fp girls was inspired to teach herself how to do something very similar, and we did a little tutorial for you! i love this… i have a feeling i’ll be rocking this braid a lot this summer :) Read more »
remember liz, our brooklyn fp girl who makes rad vests? well she’s at it again…my jaw dropped when i opened my email this morning and saw her latest project! not only are her patriotic vests to die for, but these photos are so inspiring. thank you liz!
our july catalog video might be my favorite one yet…a visual ode to the live music capital of the world, austin, texas! lazy days on front porches strumming the guitar, hanging out backstage with bands before hopping onstage alongside them, walking hand-in-hand through the texas wild… this video definitely brings out my wannabe-70s-groupie side ;)
the catalog was shot by alexandra valenti featuring models ashley smith, anastasia khodkina and jessica mau along with austin band the happen-ins, and the video was shot by our videographer and edited by swell. song is “be yer fool” by the happen-ins, which you can download here!
It’s day two of getting to know our employee of the week, and check out how adorable she was looking today! I love the combo of the ditzy polka-dot shirt underneath a girly denim romper. She looks innocent and flirty all at the same time. Definitely a Candy/Meadow combo just like she said…
Aside from checking out what she was wearing, I wanted to know what she was working on today. Essentially, she’s the one that makes sure you can all find what you’re looking for on our site, and today she’s working furiously to get all of the product from our July catalog (which also drops today!) up on the website.
She goes through, page by page, merchandising the clothing and accessories into their relevant categories for the web. We’re moving into fall already, so she notices missing categories as she goes along, and makes a note to have them added in later. This needs to be done in correspondence with every catalog, look book, blog post – anything that links to clothing someone might want to buy.
I have to say, it sounds tedious, but I’m incredibly grateful to this pretty lady for all her hard work – it means I have an even easier time of filling my closet with Free People clothes… Whoops =P
“the art of transforming something common into something precious.”
…so states the bio for dara gerson and ashley lowengrub’s jewelry line, alkemie, summing up exactly what they aim to do with their designs. after growing weary of the toxic working conditions and environmental impacts of the gem and fine metal industries, the two jewelry designers – now a husband and wife team – joined forces to create a line that only uses local, eco-friendly materials. all of their designs are made of 100% reclaimed metal and manufactured by hand in downtown LA. their amazing pieces are certainly precious and combine sculptural and organic elements that reflect their love of the environment and planet earth.
there is definitely something very 70s and spiritual about their jewelry – i could easily picture stevie nicks piling it on her wrists and hands before taking the stage for one of her epic shows. alkemie’s pieces are featured throughout our july catalog, and they suit our rock and roll theme perfectly.
an inspiration tear from our shoot
the amazing legend buckle belt above is also by alkemie! and below is the beautiful dara of alkemie, wearing the pieces in a photo taken by her husband, ashley.
Free People is introducing a luxury collection that takes sweater dressing to new heights. It is the first Free People capsule collection based around the craftsmanship of hand crochet and knitting. Inspired by a trip to Florence and a love of yarn, the collection breaths a life of elegance and sophistication into our upcoming line – If you have a love for crochet then this will take your breath away.
“FP Spun features garments made with Italian yarns, shiny silk blends and nubbed soft linens accentuated with intricate jacquards and stitches bringing a little shine for a fancy detail. The dresses range from short and flirty to slinky and long to shaped and sculpted. Each item portrays a different personality– it’s an extremely versatile collection”
The items are uniquely made, no sketching or design process is involved just a love for fine yarns telling a story as our designers knit through their imagination. We are in love with this delicate collection. Here’s a little insight behind the label from our head sweaters designer Rachael
What is FP spun?
An elevated, elegant, unique line of sweaters, beautiful dresses, skirts, glistening shorts and pants.
How did it come about?
I had just been to Pitti Filati in Florence and was inspired by all the shiny, iridescent, plush platinum, rose & liquid gold, shimmery sandy yarns and fell in love with all of them……the beauty of the yarns was amazing. A glistening joyful delight. As I had never really explored such yarns it was all untouched territory to me, so fresh and new and something I really loved.
After I had been shopping in Paris and London I had a bit of an “Ab Fab” moment, and all I wanted to wear was sweaters from head to toe…..“head to toe”, I know ridiculous! I was really into fine knit trousers to open crochet tops and sheer layering pieces……maxi crochet dresses and long fluid skirts
Meg, the president of Free People, had inspired me by bringing in some of her beautiful vintage sweater pieces, dresses, skirts and fabulous pants. And then began the first chapter of designing into a unique, sweater exclusive, high end line “FP Spun”. Elegant dresses, skirts, shorts and pants using all the wonderful yarns that caught my eye….such a delight to be able to use such beautiful yarns. I had discovered something new that I loved ……
Dresses have always been a passion of mine. I love searching for the most unique vintage piece and designing into elegant dresses….bringing out the beauty of the person within. It’s always nice to feel pretty, beautiful, elegant and happy, a dress is always the answer to happiness for me.
What makes FP Spun so special?
It’s nice to be able to create something from the beginning. The beauty of the garment evolves and unfolds as you crochet and knit with the yarns. It then forms into something beautiful that you can design into. It’s so much fun; I always feel like I’m sculpting with the yarn, and it then leads you into an amazing dress.
All the yarns are Italian or Japanese. The Japanese have the most innovative space dye colors. They are very unique. We have also started to line all the dresses with delicate beautiful French laces, and as the collection evolves, we are beginning to piece the garments with French embroideries and embellishments, pretty exciting stuff……shine + Italian or Japanese + French laces = sheer happiness for me and a beautiful garment.
There are so many interesting jobs with really quirky, fun, cool people behind them here at Free People. We think they’re awesome, and we think you will too. So, beginning this week, we’ll be starting something new on the blog to get to know them better – employee of the week!
This week’s employee is our assistant web merchandiser. Read her introduction below, and stay tuned all week for daily updates on who she is and what she’s doing!
“I have had this flag pinned up and ready to sew for months now but it never got sewn. But recently my dear, sweet mother came to visit and she took this flag home with her and she sewed for me so I would have it for the 4th of July!! Moms rule!!!”
There are many highlights to summer, but one of my favorites is fresh fruit! It’s probably the easiest thing to prepare, tastes amazing, and can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert. =)
2 Large mangoes
1 ½ tsp Sugar
Peel & dice mangoes. * Mangoes have a tough center, like with pineapple, which you’ll want to cut around.
Dice strawberries & slice banana.
Cut lime in half & squeeze juice from entire thing onto the salad.
Let it set in the fridge for at least an hour.
You can eat the salad plain, or mix it into Greek yogurt like I did for breakfast one morning. There are so many ways to go about serving it – get creative!