Leila Shams Out of The Great Depression


If someone were to say I had a bit of Fashion ADD they wouldn’t be making a completey inaccurate statement. While I always love what I love and avoid what I don't, I can often be like the puppy with the squirrel when I find new shiny labels. But one designer who has held my attention ever since I found her on a trip to New York at the beginning of my career has beenLeila ShamsYes friends, she is the shiniest. There are so many things I love about this chick that I don’t even know where to start; obviously it began with the clothes. Her designs are so original and well-done that even if you’ve only seen them once, you can spot a Leila Shams piece in a crowd of well-dressed gals. Everything from her vibrant colorways to the the perfect leather, lace and heavy beading (oh, she can also put that all in one piece and it works) make her one of my favorite designers to watch. She is so completely unfiltered in her collections that you feel like you’re on the same ride as she is (and if you’re not, you’re trying to buy a ticket).

Since being introduced to Leila, the major stops on the journey have been her Weird Science collection that put her on the backs of celebs to her break-up The Great Depression collection and now her happily-married-with-baby-on-the-way Diamond Cut for Spring 2014. I caught up with the New Yorker-who’s babes is due any second-to find out a little more about the evolution of her line and let her know I couldn’t live without it.

I know you’ve been married for a little bit now but you’re still technically a newlywed right? Congratulations! Can we please talk about that wedding dress?

Thanks so much! I knew I wanted purple ombré, an open back and a little leather. The original design had this super intense embroidery at the hem that had skulls and birds and flowers, but by the time I sent the design to my factory they were like ‘Yeah, that's not happening.' So they used an embroidered lace they already had. I didn't love it so bought a dress on etsy from MuseClothing that was patchwork vintage lace and switched the lace with that...the night before the wedding.

Isn’t one of the dresses in your Spring 2014 collection inspired by your wedding dress?

The last one is basically my wedding dress but pink instead of purple.

There is clearly a difference between Diamond Cut and The Great Depression, I loved how openly you talked about the theme of that collection. What set the tone for this one?

I was depressed and lonely when I designed The Great Depression collection. With Diamond Cut I was happy and in love. The motifs are lips and diamonds - sweet things.

And the color palette is a little more muted than what you’ve done in the past.

For my day job I design for Buffalo and it's mostly a department store business. One of our biggest accounts is southern and always insists on a lot of bright color. I love bright colors but when you have to do them, suddenly you don't wanna.

What kicks off your design process?

I design the prints and embellishments first.

I love how you use everything from intricate beading to leathers and crazy prints. What’s your secret to making it all work perfectly?

Omg thank you, it certainly does not work perfectly in the beginning. One day you need to come over and see my cancelled samples. Pretty sure they're uglier than anyone else's cancels.

What’s the story behind the pills print?

I'm so in love with that print. I don't know, it's just so good. The first super messy one I created went crazy on Tumblr so I thought I'd clean it up, print it on clothes and people will die to own in. Didn't sell a piece.

What is your favorite silhouette?

Mini shift dress.

How do you recover from a bad day?

The collection I'm working on now is all about overcoming failure. I really believe the second you think "everything is going wrong" shit gets a million times worse. So I make myself snap out of it. 100% of the time if you think "why me" someone will splash a puddle on you or you'll trip and fall.

I’ve had so much fun following your career over the past few years, I’m kind of obsessed with you. What’s next for Leila Shams?

Thanks friend - I'm pregnant so that's one thing. And I'm doing a runway show Feb 12 for my overcoming failure collection - name TBA. Any suggestions? Epic fail? Fail year? The stuff has emails printed on it of things like my showroom dropping me, shipments getting lost and what not. Kinda funny actually. I will just keep doing my thing, hoping to one day make money doing it.

Do your thing girl-and maybe hook me up with some dating advice?

images courtesy of Leila Shams

WORDCatLeila Shams, Spring 2014