Thursday, November 11, 2010

Intimate Interview: Layla L'obatti of Between The Sheets Lingerie!

I've admired the playful Between The Sheets lingerie line from afar for awhile now: their styles all look oh-so-comfy yet luxe, and their pieces are exactly what you'd want to wear while lounging around. Founder and designer Layla L'obatti generously agreed to answer a few questions I had about her brand, why she decided to pull double duty with an additional line, and what it's like to work with her boyfriend! I had always thought BTS was a large operation, but it turns out Layla and Josh are the power duo behind this small, yet amazing company.

So, to celebrate the upcoming holidays (no, it's not too early! I put up my Christmas tree two weeks ago, by the way), we'll be holding our very first Pretty Little Underthings giveaway with BTS! Contest details and rules will be coming on Monday, November 15th, so stay tuned and make sure to tell your friends.

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Come Out & Play Bralette & Thong in Shade


PLU: What made you decide to start a lingerie line instead of ready-to-wear?
Layla: I have always loved little details, chalk it up to Barbie or something from when I was young! While I was studying at FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology] I had to decide my sophomore year what I wanted to major in, if I hadn't chosen intimates I would've probably done evening wear. I chose lingerie because of the challenges that I saw in it, and I am always looking for a challenge. In lingerie everything from the materials to the fit is so important, dare I say it begs perfection? Everything is right up against a woman's skin so the fabric or lace can't be scratchy, the elastic can't dig in, the leg can't twist. These are all the things I try to focus on when I'm designing. Plus, I have always been a homebody, so lingerie and loungewear just fit my personality!

PLU: What has inspired you the most for your Between The Sheets line?
Layla: I find inspiration two ways: one, fabrics and trims that inspire me to be creative in their use, I can't say exactly what draws me to them, but I know it when I see it. two, things I dislike in garments I have, and I hate to admit to such pessimistic behavior but sometimes the things we wish were different are a great fuel for creative thought and improvement!

A few styles from Specimens of Seduction

PLU: What came first—Specimens of Seduction or BTS? What inspires you for Specimens of Seduction?
Layla: All at once, I knew that in order to make a concise brand image my lacy and luxe side would demand a higher price point that wouldn't fit within the main customer that I wanted for Between the Sheets Collection. I decided I would do capsule collections of high end pieces in limited quanities. The Specimens of Seduction range is more personal, it is the kind of lingerie I wish I could wear everyday and allows me to really flex my creative muscles with complicated silhouettes, patterns, and construction. Between the Sheets Collection was always the main vision, a line of playful, and wearably luxe intimates that everyone from moms to grandmothers could wear, but that would also appeal to the modern city girl who was tired of frills and writing across her behind and ready for more mature and sophisticated sleepwear with a playful attitude.

PLU: What is the most rewarding part of the design and/or production process? 
Layla: Each step from conception, to samplemaking, to selling to stores, and finally production is rewarding, but my favorite part of the process is the photoshoot. It's the first time I really see the whole collection come into view, before that each design is it's own separate project and at the shoot when it all comes together with styling, hair, makeup and concept it comes to life! Then everytime I look back at those images I remember the work it took to breathe life into that moment... and there is something very thrilling about that.

PLU: What is it like to work as a girlfriend/boyfriend duo?
Layla: I never thought that I would find a partner who would be so supportive of my dream, and in the beginning I don't think either of us knew how much of our lives would become devoted to making this business and this vision come to life! Now I can truly say I wish for more balance one day... and I think he would say the same, but it is really amazing that this whole thing has brought out a creative and entrepreneurial fire in him. There are definitely rough days when the stress of running a business wears on our relationship, and I wish there were fewer of those, but overall the level of communication and partnership required for us to be doing this has made our relationship and friendship stronger. I loved him before we set out on this journey, and I love him even more for walking it with me.
PLU: What inspired this year's holiday collection?
Layla: One day my dilute calico was sitting on top of some samples (she likes to do that often) and her colors blended so beautifully with them! I started looking through my Pantones to find the perfect shade of peach/taupe and grey to go with our ivory. The pops of red with bows made them perfect for holiday, Valentine's Day, everyday! No reason not to wear cute lingerie everyday!

PLU: Any advice for other young designers aspiring to start their own line?
Layla: Learn your craft, and never stop learning! Intern if you can, find a mentor, and just soak up knowledge. I had about 7 internships under my belt by the time I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, from everything from a button company, a dress/RTW co, and a couple lingerie and sleepwear brands. Every single one was an opportunity to be a fly on the wall, so by the time I got a job I knew a lot more than my competition, and then by the time I wanted to start my own brand I had the experience and confidence to try my own thing! Whether you want to design lingerie or handbags I think the same holds true.

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Thanks Layla!

Come Out & Play Bralette, $70. Thong, $32. Available online at BTSLingerie.com.

Follow BTS on Twitter: @BTSLingerie

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