Drawing the line on fashion

In our September issue, we profiled La Ligne, a fashion brand that understands what critic G.K. Chesterton meant when he said that “art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” Recently, WAG caught up with the brand’s founders, Meredith Melling, Valerie Macaulay and Molly Howard – whom we first met at the Bruce Museum’s “Art of Design” panel back in April – to learn more about the inspiration behind the company, their style tips and more.

All  of you held positions at huge, well-established companies (Melling and Macaulay at Vogue, Howard at rag & bone), jobs many women dream of having. What inspired you to leave those positions and come together to form a company that’s all about lines?

VM: “Much of the inspiration for La Ligne developed through experiences in our former roles. When Meredith and I were on the editorial side (at Vogue), we saw that no matter the season, stripes had proven to be timeless and classic staples – and they still do. Once we met Molly, her obsession with stripes not only equaled ours, but her business savvy and experience scaling a retail brand really turned the idea into a business. As three entrepreneurial women with different backgrounds within the fashion industry, we were incredibly excited to partner together to create something new.”

Explain the concept behind the brand.

MH: “La Ligne is a timeless brand defined by an iconic graphic – the stripe. Founded by three female entrepreneurs and veterans in the fashion industry, La Ligne offers a mix of both classic and current styles that enable women to distinctively make the stripe their own. Beyond product, La Ligne delivers playful, intelligent content that inspires.”

Describe the brand in one word (and no, stripes doesn’t count).

VM: “Timeless.”

Where does the strike through monogram come from?

MM:“We were inspired by the tradition of crossing out one’s name on personalized stationery to create an intimate, friendly relationship with the customer.  We love the idea of taking this tradition and applying it to our monogram treatment as a ‘human’ touch. And you can’t ignore the fact that a slash is a line, so it’s very on brand for La Ligne.”

What makes La Ligne unique?

MH: “We truly make clothes to eat, sleep, drink and dance in. There are pieces you can wear on a flight or to a wedding and still be comfortable in either situation. Stripes naturally lend themselves to versatility.”

If you had to choose one piece from your line, which would it be and why?

VM: “If I could sleep in all the iterations of our silk pants, (The Boudoir Pant ,The Bon Voyage Pant , Pant D’eau ) I would. I resist calling them pajamas, because you can easily wear them for a black-tie event if you pair them with the right blazer and heels. They’re luxe in terms of quality, design, but feel amazing to wear.”

Where do you get your fashion inspiration from?

MM: “La Ligne is French for ‘the line.’ Our design inspiration comes from a European slant and attitude. Our muses include icons like Françoise Hardy, Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot.”

What is the best piece of fashion advice you have ever received?

VM: “Don’t be afraid to mix stripes with stripes.”

What is your current favorite trend?

MM:“I love that the fashion industry is embracing faux fur.”

What is your number one style tip for transitioning into fall?

MH: “Layer, layer, layer. During the fall in New York City, it can be chilly in the morning and super hot in the afternoon, so I almost always have on T-shirt under a sweater under a jacket.’

What has been your proudest moment so far with La Ligne?

MM:“I’m most proud of the community we’ve built, which we call “La Bande.” Each season we ask a number of women (and some men) we admire to style their favorite pieces from the collection, and we shoot them for our “In Line” portrait series, which we feature on our website, in emails and on social media. These women truly embody the spirit of La Ligne.”

What does the future look like for La Ligne? Are you moving away from the direct-to-consumer model?

MH: “We launched with the direct-to-consumer model in order to offer luxury quality product at a reasonable price and to completely own the entire customer experience – product, service, cost and, most importantly, our relationship with our customer. Those priorities haven’t changed, but we are excited to partner with our first national, U.S. wholesale partner at the end of summer, which will provide La Ligne customers a physical touch-point on a national scale. I wouldn’t say it’s about ‘moving away’ or shifting, but rather we’re finding new ways to meet our customers where they are. There’s lots to look forward to.”

For more, visit lalignenyc.com. And for more on fashion, check out WAG’s September “Fashionable Inspirations” issue

– Meghan McSharry

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