— No15 —
UO INTERVIEWS: YAEL AFLALO
What are you up to in Montauk?
A bunch of my girlfriends and I rented a beach house out here for a week, so we're surfing, doing yoga, beach...it's pretty much an estrogen bath.
How did you get started in fashion?
I started Yaya when I was 21 years old. It was pretty grass roots I guess; I had gone to fashion design school for a year and I was working for Fred Segal in LA. I was really broke so I brainstormed and came up with an idea for a skirt and I brought it into work like "I have this skirt, do you want to buy some?" And it worked out!
You lived in Los Angeles for a long time before moving to New York. What style cues did you pick up there?
LA doesn't really have seasons, so I definitely understand season-less dressing. There's a sense of freedom, it's not conservative fashion. But I also rebelled. I had wanted to move to New York for a long time, and I wanted to be different from a lot of what was going on in LA.
How did you end up creating two lines, Reformed and Nom de Plume Yaya, for Urban Outfitters?
I love Urban Outfitters, it's one of the stores that I shop at. I walked into Urban one day and I thought "Wow, this is really right-on. They take chances, they're fashion forward, and the prices are really approachable. I can do this!" I called a friend that works in sales and said "We need to get into Urban Outfitters."
What is the main inspiration behind the two lines?
I know it sounds narcissistic, but the major inspiration for my designs would probably be me and my friends. I always make clothes that I want to wear. In that respect, my designs kind of catalog my life; what I've gone through in the past, and how I've changed now. Wearability is also really important. I try to make clothes that make women look attractive, my clothes tend to be sexy and body conscious. We're not too conceptual or too far out there.
How long have you been collaborating with Chi Bui?
Chi and I have been working together for years. She was one of the designers for Yaya. She has more of a quirky, whimsical, feminine look, and I tend to be a little bit more forward, sexy, with harder lines. The Reformation is combination of our styles. I was going to move to New York, and I really wanted Chi to come with me but she didn't really want to move. So I was like "Well I don't want to not work with you, let's think of something!" So we came up with the idea for The Reformation, and we went for it. We opened a store in LA and within a month or two I was completely in love with it. I kept coming back to LA to be in the store and I decided that I needed to start one in New York, so that's what we did.
What's The Reformation all about?
The Reformation is a combination of two things: We take vintage clothes and clean them and take them apart and put them back together, and we also create new styles from vintage fabrics. It's immediate gratification for consumers and for designers. As a designer you have a lot of ideas that you don't get to express because of the way that collections are made. They have to be done a year in advance, they all have to color coordinate, and after years of having to work in that format, it felt really freeing and amazing to just make what we wanted right then, and then put in the floor right there. It's really fun, if we have one crazy, random idea we can try it. It doesn't need to be commercial or practical because you're just making one or two.
What are three things you cant live without?
Clothes, healthy food, and my studding machine.
What would you do if you weren't a designer?
I would love to be a novelist. But I always wanted to be a doctor too. I'm a nerd for science, it's kind of embarrassing but true. I'd like to write like Ayn Rand; my novel would be a steamy, thoughtful, philosophical affair. —LUCIA DELLA PAOLERA