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 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!
“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.
i have been eagerly awaiting this book since april when we went to austin to shoot it! it drops tuesday, but here are some behind the scenes photos i took during the shoot to hold you over :)
the july book was shot in austin, texas, by alexandra valenti and features models ashley smith, anastasia khodkina, jessica mau and our fave rockers, the happen-ins :) look for the entire catalog online and in the mail on tuesday!
i have some great ‘exile in austin’ photos to share with you today, from alexandra valenti – who shot our july catalog! i love her style of photography, i can’t wait to show you some of the shots from the book! but for now, enjoy these fun photos from our event :)
i am so excited to tell you guys about something special we’re doing to celebrate our july catalog! you may remember that i was down in austin a couple of months ago, where we shot the book with local band the happen-ins. well we had such a blast that we decided to go back and throw a party to celebrate the catalog release! And what better way to do it than with some live music from the happen-ins?! if you aren’t familiar with these guys yet, you will be soon… their music – a blend of r&b, americana and classic rock – is intoxicating. not to mention, we love their style :) check them out on facebook here.
the event will take place friday june 17th at 5-8PM
at austin’s mohawk room– where we shot part of our july book!
located at 912 red river st– a strip of austin’s hottest live music venues.
come hang out with us while enjoying live music from the happen-ins, a special viewing of our catalog video before anyone has seen it, and enter your name in a raffle for a chance to win a $500 or $50 gift card to FP!
we’ll also hand out fliers for a 15% off discount that you can use at our austin store locations – downtown and at the domain.
***this is an all ages event!***
i’m so excited to go back to austin! i hope to see lots of you there!
our july catalog and its stunning location have really got me longing for a rugged hiking and camping vacation. all I want to do is take off on a weekend with nothing but a rucksack on my back and explore the great outdoors. i am a summer person but i am already dreaming about fall because i think that would be the perfect time of year to do this… hearing the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet, brisk morning air that still warms up to the sun, moonlit dips in a lake and drying off by a fire with a big cozy blanket wrapped around me…
i would really love to hike the appalachian trail –maybe not the entire length (from maine to georgia or vice versa) but at least part of it. i had the opportunity to do this once in high school and i always kindof regretted not taking it.