The pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns have pushed most of us to celebrate the art of at-home dressing. Designer Olivia von Halle – with her eponymous luxe loungewear label – however, has been advocating at-home dressing for nearly a decade. Launched in 2011, the brand’s plush loungewear can be credited with disrupting and reinventing the sleepwear market with a heavy dose of glamor. Halle’s extravagant sleepwear is equal parts stylish, comfortable, and dazzling, and what began with a single pajama set has now expanded to include posh robes, kimonos, slip dresses, nightshirts, and eye masks.
As she celebrates her exclusive partnership with Harrods with the launch of her ‘Cabaret’ collection, we sit down with the luxe-pajama pioneer to discuss the art of at-home dressing and the future of loungewear.
Loungewear is a huge part of our lives today, thanks to the pandemic. What inspired you to launch a luxury loungewear brand back in 2011? Do you recall any particular moment that made you realize that this was what you wanted to do?
I was working and living in Shanghai, where I had an incredible tailor and was close to incredible Silk Road fabrics. To my designs, he created the most heavenly pair of silk pajamas. They really filled a gap in my wardrobe, and I began to wear them constantly. After that, all my friends started queuing up asking me to make them a pair too, so I thought I might be onto something. It dawned on me that there was nothing else like them available at the time. Eventually, it all spurred me to move back to London, in 2011, and launch the brand.
Can you please walk us through the ‘Cabaret’ collection? What inspired the collection?
As an exclusive collection, it enabled a kind of freedom — innovating new techniques, exploring new embroidery and embellishments with aplomb, with a daring type of decadence in keeping with the commitment to craftsmanship Olivia von Halle is all about.
My Design Director and I dove into the archives, where we found so many starlets who embodied the gloriously over-the-top, statement dressing that was found on the red carpet and at home, as well as at the cabaret. The outfits of the cabaret, in particular, had a kind of unabashed indulgence to them, which we loved.
What does your design process look like?
Our design process is distinct to Olivia von Halle; we make a wardrobe that is made to treasure, focusing on sustainability and honoring the integrity of our materials. Unless it is perfect, we don’t consider it finished — we spend a long time honing the process, which other brands may consider a loss of resource, but this exacting process gives each product its integrity. We are unusual in that we create all of our own fabrics, so all the prints and colors are completely unique to Olivia von Halle. We also tend to start each collection with a muse, a trailblazing woman who is style incarnate, and we focus our storytelling around them, poring over the archives, looking back into the library, and finding historical references and images of these women whose style and silhouettes are truly one-of-a-kind.
What, according to you, are the must-have pieces when it comes to at-home dressing?
I love ‘Coco Baronet’ and ‘Queenie Cabaret.’ They’re both especially unique — heavily-embellished and hand-embroidered. They provide sumptuous, statement dressing, providing flair for every day (and night).
In which Olivia von Halle pieces would we find you lounging in?
I adore the ‘Capability Baronet’ because it speaks so strongly to what Olivia von Halle is all about. It’s a sumptuous navy velvet dressing gown piped with pink lurex and heavily embroidered with the most beautiful flowers — a head-turning piece!
When it comes to at-home dressing, what does comfort mean to you?
Dressing that affords style as much as it does genuine pleasure; a wardrobe that contains moments of surprise and delight, while also embracing really, truly luxurious fabrics and design.
Why is it vital to dress up even when at home?
Whether enjoying moments of revelry in person or from afar, it’s important to imbue life with a little glamour and glitz. Plus, to put it simply, I love getting dressed up. And if you can’t go out, why not embrace it at home! You feel just as glamorous, and it adds a special touch to all those important events. 2020 has been a banner year for the brand for exactly that reason — people investing in statement pieces that add color and joy to all occasions.
What does a glamorous day at home mean to the woman behind the uber luxe at-home dressing brand?My idea of uber luxury at home begins and ends in the bath. For me, it’s total decadence, and I love spending a long and languorous evening in my tub, with a cup of tea (or a gin and tonic), lashings of Olverum bath oil, and plenty of Epsom salts. Then I roll into silk pajamas and an eye mask and into bed. Bliss!
What is the future of loungewear?
A more directional agenda of prints and patterns as we embrace a new kind of decadent at-home dressing; which we, at Olivia von Halle, have seen an enormous appetite for this year!