Louda out loud
It was such a treat to drop by Louda Larrain's "Emporium of Cuteness" exhibition's opening night at Fishcake/Box Jelly on Thursday. We don't often get to see such exquisite, magical and tactile textiles as those that spring from her imagination to her fingertips to kaleidoscopic life.
At the center of the exhibit was Larrain's tremendous dress of many colors representing a couple of decades of work, and 200 of the 500 swatches she has amassed — her babies — each one representing a work of art fabric she created by hand and sold to the likes of Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler, Emanuel Ungaro, Gianfranco Ferre and other renowned houses for the creation of their own couture designs.
My story in Thursday's Star-Advertiser detailed her childhood in Russia, where teaching fashion illustration was her route out of Siberia and eventually to Paris, where she attracted the attention of the house of Lesage, the famed embroidery atelier now owned by Chanel.
As she told me:
“They asked if I could leave a few sample swatches. At that time I only had about six or eight swatches. Now I have more than 500.
“The next day, Francois Lesage called me. He said, ‘Darling, sit down. I have news for you, and you will fall out of your seat. Someone went crazy for your fabrics.’ And that was (Chanel designer) Karl Lagerfeld.
“After that my life was like a fairy tale. I still had to work very hard, but after I produced this fabric for Chanel, every door opened. I could call and everyone wanted to know what I was doing. Sometimes they would say, ‘This is too Chanel,’ because they had their own identity, so I would continue experimenting.”
From Paris, she built a reputation for herself in New York, where her distinctive, one-of-a-kind coats were sold in art galleries.
Love brought her to Kauai, which her husband, storied photographer Gilles Larrain, considers the most beautiful island in the world. And we are the beneficiaries of their move. Thanks for the eye-opening experience!
Larrain will also be conducting a fashion illustration HFX workshop from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Fishcake. The cost is $70 general admission, $35 for Hawai'i Fashion Exchange members. Click here to register online.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.