Not long after I was in Sweden, I was working in Los Angeles and happened upon the fabulous shop of Swedish designer, Lotta Stensson.
It was a serendipitous meeting, not only because I had just been in Sweden, but because Lotta is a kindred spirit . . . a designer who travels the world.
The granddaughter of renowned Swedish fashion designer, Katja of Sweden, Lotta learned to sew at a young age. She moved to New York and got a degree in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
At age twenty-six, she created her first clothing collection, out of a tiny New York City apartment and it wasn’t long before her clothes were being sold at top stores all over the world. Fashion editors took notice, and her designs appeared in major publications, including Vogue, Elle, and Women’s Wear Daily. Lotta was named “Upcoming designer for Fall 2000” at that year’s New York Fashion Week.
When she moved her company to Los Angeles, the Lotta Stensson brand acquired a new clientele; her gorgeous designs have been worn by countless celebrities, including Madonna, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Gisele, among many others.
Here’s my conversation with the remarkable designer:
Describe the Lotta Stensson look.
The look is elegant while easy; a bohemian, world-traveled look. A look you wear while being happy, in a great place and in a fab climate.
What inspires your unique, hand-drawn, prints?
Just about anything. I see design everywhere I look . . . even a fence can become the perfect inspiration. I hunt, buy, collect, save tear sheets, have millions of images and mounds of books, and textiles literally EVERYWHERE. I surround myself with a lot of inspiration and keep the juices flowing.
Who are the artisans that create the hand-printed fabrics?
Our printing artisans live all over India, and each village and region has unique skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. We travel long distances to reach them in jungles and rural remote places, some that can barely be reached by car. If the customer only knew the many many loving hands that are involved making each garment, I think they would be very moved. I feel the vibration and energy from these fabrics while working and designing, and later while happily wearing them.
I am completely obsessed with your multifunctional ponchos. (Full disclosure to my readers, I’ve bought two – Lotta is holding my silk poncho in the first photo, and the wool poncho is pictured below. At least one of them – depending upon the weather in my destination – will, from now on, always be a travel essential.)
I’m obsessed too! Its the best – a plain and simple shape that can be worn in many different ways.
Can you tell me what gave you the idea for the poncho design?
The idea came to me when my luggage was lost on a trip to Jamaica. I had to make do with a few things I found locally that were NOT fashionable, to say the least! I decided to design a versatile travel piece that weighs nothing, serves many different functions, and fits into a small carry-on. (The poncho is also a great scarf to have on the freezing plane while on your way to the tropics. Win-Win!)
Do you have a favorite piece in your current collection?
Ahhh thats hard, I love almost every piece. When you work on the print, then make changes, then make samples, and eventually complete the entire collection, it’s such a long process . . . like giving birth!
BUT as any parent I do have a few favorites:
My ponchos in all the fabrics or prints . . . its my life saver . . . I can always look put together, even when I’m not in the mood to get dressed up.
I like to layer my maxi kaftans over maxi dresses, or a skirt and tank; or jeans and tank for city, or use as a beach cover-up over a bikini. So versatile!
My halter dresses in silk are the best fit ever.
The “Regular Robe” is my go-to for dinner, events, and parties.
What is your favorite Los Angeles activity?
Just going to the beach to “be”, hiking the millions of trails we are surrounded by, or eating at the amazing sushi restaurants around town.
Your favorite Los Angeles restaurant?
Impossible! So many. However, one would be Son of a Gun, the restaurant next to my shop on West 3rd street.
[Editor’s note: I also LOVE this restaurant and can’t wait to go there every time I’m in L.A.]
What is your favorite travel destination in the world?
I have so many still to see, but from the places I have been I would say; Jamaica, British Virgin Islands, and Bali.
Where will you be going next?
India and Bali for work and inspiration, and stopping off on the way over to see family in Sweden. Then I need to go one more place I have not yet been, before 2015 is over.
What are three things that you never travel without?
My Lotta beach poncho, maxi kaftan . . . and mosquito repellent! 🙂