Alison Lloyd, founder of British accessories label Ally Capellino, joined us on the 28th of October to share six books that shaped her company, outlook and life.
Thirty five years on from launching Ally Capellino as a fashion brand in 1980, Alison Lloyd has built her business up into an international accessories label with something of a cult following, known in particular for its elegantly designed, carefully crafted and highly functional satchels, totes and rucksacks. Ally Capellino now has three permanent stores — the most recent of which opened in London’s Marylebone this summer, and numerous supporting global stockists. The timelessness of its products, along with its quintessentially British outlook and loyal following have attracted collaborations with similarly design-focused companies, from Ace Hotel and Apple to the Tate galleries and The Gourmand.
On Wednesday 28th October, Alison shared six publications have played influential roles in shaping her outlook, company and career with a group of YCN Members and friends. All these titles have been subsequently added to the shelves of the Lending Library for Members to borrow.
Alison started by showing us a selection of sketches from her rough books, made during her time studying fashion and textiles at Middlesex University, before going on to design clothes at Courtaulds’ design studio. Slightly embarrassed about the naivety of her initial sketches, Ally showed photographs alongside of the extravagant, heavily shoulder-padded clothes that she had designed and handmade for friends and family members. Defined structure and strong shapes featured heavily in Ally's architectural garments, even from the very beginning. A self-proclaimed thrill seeker – Ally always followed her instincts, which once found her hitchhiking across the North Yorkshire moors to get to a weekend fashion course in the seaside town of Scarborough.
As the child of wartime parents, Ally grew up with the "stingy gene". She told us of weekend walks with her parents and siblings, where the whole family would share just one Mars bar, one half shared between her parents and the other cut into thirds for each child. Her love of a bargain, rooting through charity shops or making a meal out of leftovers has never left her – and here she referenced The Pauper's Cook Book, as she had brought along her 1977 edition which was falling apart from years of use in the kitchen. This trait has filtered down into the way she constructs her clothes and accessories, cutting a pattern in the most economical way still "gives her a thrill." Ally admitted that she finds it hard to throw anything away, and some items in her wardrobe are over three decades old. Thinking creatively, Ally can mix and match colours and textures, giving her clothes a new lease of life each time – a pastime that contributes to her arriving late to work most days! Ally describes her style as classic and slightly tomboy with a hint of the classic German children's book Emil and the Detectives – and "there's nearly always boots involved".
After completing her education, Alison and her then-partner Jonathan Platt launched the Ally Capellino brand in 1980. Fast forward twenty years, and following a restructure and relaunch, the brand’s first accessories focussed store opened in 2005, along with an e-commerce site. The following year, Alison embarked on what was to become a long-running collaboration with Tate galleries, on a product range designed for artists. Two years later the brand worked with Apple on laptop bags for the European market, and has since gone on to create new products with a host of creatively minded organisations.
Ally has a longstanding fascination with chairs – and here she referenced her friend Martino Gamper's 100 Chairs in 100 Days project, where he reused and repurposed materials to create a series of chairs in 100 days. Gamper was not striving for the perfect article, more enjoying the process of making and experimenting with each fresh design. In 2012 Ally was part of a show at the V&A for London Design Festival entitled 'Bums on Seats', celebrating the humble chair. She worked with furniture designer Rupert Blanchard to create a series of specially designed chairs that explored different ways of sitting, all made with the signature leathers and fastenings synonymous with Ally Capellino accessories. If you're keen to see more of Ally's chair-based inspiration, you are invited to follow her instagram account @allycapellino_plasticchairs
To celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2010, Ally Capellino exhibited a major retrospective at The Wapping Project, before going opening store number two on Portobello Road. This summer saw the launch of its most recent physical space in Marylebone. Alison was awarded an honorary Doctorate in 2014, from the University of Hertfordshire School of Creative Arts for her contribution to fashion.
Alison's Reading List
1. The Pauper's Cookbook by Jocasta Innes
2. To Build a House, You Start with the Roof by Franz West
3. African Image by Sam Haskins
4. Concrete by Leonard Coren
5. Dior in Vogue by Brigid Keenan
6. 100 Chairs, in 100 Days, in 100 Ways by Martino Gamper
We would like to thank Ally for visited us at YCN, and to Sam Bush for photographing the event.
Location:72 Rivington St,
London, EC2A 3AY,
Start:28th October, 2015 at 6:30pm
End:28th October, 2015 at 8:00pm