Lily and Lionel is named after Founder and Creative Director Alice Stone’s grandparents, both of whom had a rich history in the British textiles industry. Particularly important in the current climate of fast, expendable fashion, Alice takes great care in the development of her now iconic prints and the sourcing of the finest fabrics. 2015 saw the launch of the new resort collections, with the same wonderful prints lending themselves to stylish, effortless outerwear. Now sold in more than 150 stores worldwide, Lily and Lionel has become synonymous with innovative print design.
(Alice wears the beautiful Iris Kaftan above)
We caught up with Alice to discuss her inspirations and goals - both travel and professional...
Obviously Britain is firmly rooted in the Lily & Lionel history, but are there any other particular cultures or geographies around the world that you look to for inspiration? For instance, were you drawn to specific sunshine destinations for the ready-to-wear graphic treatments of the SS16 collections?
Our collections are always inspired by travel, not just in terms of the prints but also in creating pieces that work for the woman who is always on the move. We source fabrics that don’t crease too easily and design shapes that can work for multiple occasions. For the SS16 collection, our Iris print was inspired by Palm Springs and features a fun and uplifting palm motif in vibrant coral hues which just encapsulates summer.
Similarly, does the AW16 collection draw inspiration from any cultures or locations in the world in particular?
For the AW16 collection we brought it back home; it’s all about our love of London, our hometown. We hand-painted the prints in our studio, drawing inspiration from traditional British flowers and other classic prints we’re known for, like leopard print. When it comes to shapes, we’ve been conscious create pieces that are unique yet practical, that travel well and are easy to wear but are always classic and beautiful. Even when it came to shooting our campaign, we chose a model – Natasha Gilbert – who is a Londoner born and raised, and a mother, so perfectly represents the Lily and Lionel woman.
Where in the world have you had your most memorable moments, either professional or personal?
Professionally speaking, I would say India, as the concept of Lily and Lionel was born during a trip there eight years ago. Personally, I would say travelling around Patagonia and Buenos Aires. The energy and atmosphere, the food and the sheer natural beauty were all so inspirational and moving.
What are your personal travel necessities?
Always a cashmere scarf. It’s easy to pack and acts as the perfect blanket on the plane. I also always pack my Ren mini skincare products and lavender oil to ensure a good night’s sleep to get over jet-lag.
Where’s next on your list in terms of travel goals?
We’re planning our honeymoon at the moment, so we’re having fun researching options for new destinations to explore. We’re thinking either Tanzania or Zanzibar.
What is your vision as you take Lily and Lionel forward?
For the future of Lily and Lionel, I want us to continue producing iconic prints and to grow our ready-to-wear collection. We’re also focusing on growing our distribution globally. We’re lucky to be stocked in some wonderful stores around the world, so I’d love to continue the pace and bring Lily and Lionel to some new territories and audiences.
Why is treading lightly (in terms of environmental and social impact) so important when it comes to fashion?
There’s so much choice out there now, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I think we’re starting to see a trend of moving towards investing in a few key pieces that work with what you already own. Our collection features a concise and carefully thought-out selection of pieces that you can collect over seasons and build into your wardrobe, rather than replace with something new. That’s why we focus on classic prints and shapes that are flattering on all body types, instead of following what’s on trend.
If you could give your younger self one piece of business advice, what would that be?
Always listen to your gut. Especially when we first started Lily and Lionel, there was so much advice from so many different people, which can be both wonderful and distracting. Your experience is totally unique, so don’t compare yourself to others, just focus on what you know is right for your brand.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
Definitely being able to travel to so many wonderful places. I’m such a magpie for inspiration, I love sourcing fabrics or picking up ideas for new prints in markets in India or vintage shops in Milan.