“There’s a real lack of workwear for women,” Helen Levi says, considering her studio uniform. “I think it’s great that Ilana [Kohn] is addressing that space! She’s super supportive of other women designers.” The photographer-turned-potter switched from film to clay in 2014 and after a chance meeting with Steven Alan at a party, found almost instant success with her eponymous line. Helen’s signature pieces include pineapple-topped mugs, paint-splattered pitchers, and dip-dyed jugs, and have been featured in Vogue, Lucky, Nylon and more. Taking inspiration from natural resources and photographer Sylvia Plachy, her approach to design is primarily focused on trusting her gut.
Here, she takes the Lola Utility Coverall for a spin and answers all of our questions.
The oversized silhouettes of Ilana Kohn’s coveralls allow for them to be totally unisex which was a welcome discovery for Chen Chen and Kai Williams, the design duo at Chen Williams. “We have normal overalls which tend to be a little too technical and also much tighter fitting in the torso which don’t make them as easy to get in and out of,” Chen explains. “We love the simplicity of these coveralls and the loose fit.” Comfy workwear is important to the duo, especially considering their studio develops so many varied pieces: furniture, jewelry, coasters, bookends, home accessories, materials and more. The Pratt Institute graduates founded their creative studio in Brooklyn in 2011 and their experimental and playful combination of everyday and unusual materials has since been featured in design museums and festivals all over the world.
Chen takes the Lola Utility Coverall for a spin in their studio while we get to know him and his partner Kai.
“No two days of work are alike for me,” Caroline Ventura says. “I often find myself splitting time between working in the studio or overseeing production in the diamond district to being in Calliope with customers.” The New York-based jewelry designer and co-owner of Meatpacking District design boutique Calliope is a longtime friend of Ilana Kohn and you might recognize the petite bombshell babe from the lookbook photos from past seasons. For BRVTVS, Caroline mixes masculine and feminine inspiration for delicate jewelry handmade in her studio using reclaimed materials whenever possible. Naturally, she turned to Ilana for help in the versatile wardrobe department. “It’s sometimes tough to have so many costume changes throughout the day, so wearing a piece that can transition from being alone working and getting messy to meeting people face to face is a hell of a lot easier. Plus, this type of coverall always looks better once it has a little schmutz on it, so it’s okay if I get a little dirty while working.”
The return of the jumpsuit might be one of fashion’s biggest comebacks of late, but for anyone getting their hands dirty in a studio, the return of the coverall beats a Studio 54-era onsie any day of the week. “I was bugging Ilana [Kohn] about making one for me last year after I was on a relentless search for one to wear to studio,” recalls Julianne Ahn, the beauty behind the ceramics from Object & Totem. Known for her mixed media necklaces and glazed vessels, the Brooklyn-based ceramic artist is getting her wish granted this week as we launch Ilana Kohn’s exclusive, limited-edition Lola Utility Coverall this Thursday. “Having one designed by a friend is going to be really special so I’m looking forward to the history of what it might look like well worn years from now.”
“Our many maker friends really responded to this particular style, saying it would be the perfect workwear,” Ilana says of her best-selling Lola Coverall. “So this one is made to get mucky, roughed up and lived in!” The Lola Utility Coverall, available Thursday, October 1, features a heavy, work-friendly cotton twill and is made in New York City’s garment district.
This week we’ll be featuring four New York-based makers whose personal and studio style inspired it all. First up, we get to know Julianne.