Introducing the inspiring makers of our FP Bali capsule!
Our latest Bali collection has got to be one of my favorite things about Free People — embroidery, hand-touched details, vivid prints and COLOR. Just looking at the collection tempts me to run away to Bali with each piece right now. Meet the lovely duo behind it all.
Surf Date Romper, Out of This World Mini, Clearly A Dream Dress, Rest for the Wicked Dress, Don’t Touch My Parrot Romper, Walking on a Cloud Dress, Ask Me Out Romper, Magical Thoughts Jumpsuit, Midsummer Dream Romper, Lovers Beach Short
Can you introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about what you do here at Free People?
Carolyn: I was born and raised in Orange County, CA. I grew up with my twin sister, Jana, and my little sister, Kate. The three of us are super close… and SO very different. As they went off to pursue ‘office job stuff’, I went off to design school in LA. As a girl who lived and loved the beach it was only natural to get my start in the surf and skate industry as a designer. After some time working in the world of surf, I was beyond excited when I was given the opportunity to design for a company I have always admired and dreamed of working for — Free People. I now live in Huntington Beach, CA with my husband and 2 little munchkins working on the Bali capsule, which I got to design and develop in Bali. It seems so organic and natural for me to be working on this special capsule and I absolutely love it!
Paige: I grew up in a (very) small town in Texas on a farm with 2 little sisters, a little brother, some dogs, cats, chickens, cows and the occasional goat. After high school I moved to Savannah to study fashion design at SCAD, then moved to Philly to work for UO before my dream job and life finally met in the middle — I was able to work for Free People and move to LA! My plan was always to head west since my boyfriend/best friend/adventure partner was already living there pursuing music. We’re both from the same little town, and now we only have to split our time between two states instead of 3. Plus, we both love the sunshine. :)
Can you break down the Bali Capsule for us? How does it differ from other lines within FP?
The Bali Capsule is a handcrafted line, 100% inspired by Bali. There is nothing like it…inspired by the people, culture, lifestyle and spirit of the Bali island. The craftsmanship of each garment — unreal. The collection, too, is made in Bali, made up of unexpected colors, bold prints, and extraordinary embellishment and cutwork throughout the line. The aesthetic is beautiful, summer sensual, told via beachy silhouettes. It encompasses the unique ‘wow’ pieces that Free People is all about.
How did your partnership come to be? Do you collaborate on everything, who handles what?
I would say…fate. Paige was living in Philly at the time and wanted to come to LA. At that time I was working on the Bali line from LA and was in need of an assistant. The stars aligned, the timing perfect. I am a big believer in collaborating, listening and working with others which makes the process more organic. It sparks new ideas and, most of all, it yields success.
From sketch to finished product, what’s your work flow like?
We begin by exploring for inspiration, traveling to a new area or shopping vintage and meeting interesting people with interesting stories. We are inspired by countless things, whether it be one amazing vintage dress, or a picture that speaks a thousand words, or a song that sparks a mood (for Fall 2016, it was the 8tracks’ album ‘Les Reveurs’ put together by Vranceanu.Ana) . From there we build the stories. I like to create a mood…’her Bali love story.’ What the girl is feeling and wearing…her vibe and her outfits. I REALLY believe in the girl who is wearing this — that is always the intention of the garment, from start to finish. From there we mock, sketch and color into ideas. We collaborate with an amazing FP artist alongside the Bali artist on print ideas. We head to Bali and work closely with the factories, pattern makers and artists to collectively develop the line. After we present the collection, we then work with production on seeing the garments through to final product with fittings. By the time we see it online or in stores we are working on the next collection, exploring new inspiration. ;)
What’s the most exciting aspect of the process?
This is a tough one…there are so many exciting aspects. We love considering our girl and what she is doing, her mood and new look. We love hunting at vintage markets and traveling to different places to find inspiration. When we first arrive in Bali, its feels like we’re back at home…ready to start an adventure with our new collection. Our third favorite part of the process (and, truthfully, probably the most exciting) receiving the box from our Bali trip, full of the newly finished samples that we worked so hard to create — a giant box with lots of dreamy things. Opening it is like Christmas, but better. :)
What does an average day in the life look like for you?
No day is the same, and every day brings new challenges and/or opportunities. Whether we are out seeking ideas for the new line, or in Bali creating and developing the collection at the factories, or back in LA meeting at our office with fittings and reviews. We just kind of go with the flow.
What aspects/traditions of Bali are rooted in your designs?
We only do what is rooted to Bali. When I first arrived in Bali I was ready to design and work into what Bali is known for — cutwork, embroidery, embellishments, hand-done prints, batiks, crochet and leather.
What did you find most inspiring on your trip to Bali?
The people, the island. Listening, watching and hearing stories about the Balinese culture is quite inspiring. They are such kind, peaceful and creative people. You feel an awe-inspiring energy while you are there. It feels like home to us and we miss it when we’re not there.
Was there a highlight of the trip?
You mean the time we rode motorbikes and felt blessed we made it? Or ending up at Uluwatu, temple-high, on the cliff at the tip of Bali? Or the time we paddleboarded at Padang Padang beach and watched fish swim under our boards? Or the time monkeys climbed over our heads as they fought over which banana was theirs? It’s so difficult to choose — there is a fine line between highlights and ‘oh shit’ moments!
What do you think is so special about the FP Bali capsule?
There is a story behind each piece and why it was made. The fact that it is inspired and developed in Bali makes it so unique. The combination between the beautiful handwork, cutwork and embellishment with the interesting feminine and forward silhouettes creates this ‘wow’ factor in each piece. The prints and artwork are bold and beautiful. It’s an FP Bali love story.
What kind of girl do you imagine wearing and loving your pieces?
Beachy, sensual, carefree. Daring but also mysterious. She expresses charisma and love without trying. She is confident in who she is. I can imagine her riding a motorbike with her board by her side. Or I see her shopping the markets and then headed to the beach with friends. I imagine her adventurous and easy going. She likes to stand out, she loves who she is…and she exudes beauty.
What’s on the horizon?
We are always looking for new opportunities to keep it exciting and fresh. For upcoming Fall 2016, we were inspired by a French girl living in Bali. You will see the influence of both cultures mixed…romantic, sensual and soft, infused with a beachy, embellished Bali look. We have alluring shine in earthy tones. New fabrics include silky satin and textured cottons. We designed an amazing dress, handpainted by a Balinese artist… only a few will be made because it is so special and unique. For 2017, can’t say for sure what to expect… but we are going to experiment with traditional hand-stamped batik, leather in new silhouettes, and hoping to try one or 2 unique Bali swim pieces. ;) We never know wha’ts going to happen next — we kind of just push it (a lot) and see where it lands1 ;)
+Check out our Bali Travel Guide!