Reversible hats, flirty dresses and wonderfully rusched tunics....this is just a taste of Squasht by Les. Based in Chicago, Squasht is the brainchild of Lesley Timpe. Using mostly natural, vintage and/or organic sustainable fabrics, the Squasht collection is full of ready-to-wear, hand-constructed pieces that are the perfect "go-to" items that should be in all of our closets.
We chatted with Lesley to learn more about what inspires her collections and what fabulous pieces she'll be showing us at the Naked Without Us Originals Show, Saturday, April 24 at Mercy Lounge.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your collections?
Generally I draw inspiration from vintage fabrics and vintage silhouettes, but I always like to add a twist to the designs and modernize them. My favorite decades for design are the 1950s and the 1980s. Sometimes I like to combine the two together, like taking a New Look silhouette (1950s Dior style) and adding giant puffy sleeves, for example. I love puffy sleeves, petal sleeves, epaulettes, 1940s style pockets, modern pockets in which I invent a new shape (like a horseshoe shaped pocket), contrast trim and/or buttons, rusching, shoulder ties, loopy belts, princess seams and high-waisted flouncy skirts. These are some of my favorite design elements and my trademarks. You will see them all in the Naked Without Us Fashion Show.
What or who is your muse or inspiration for your Naked Without Us collection? Can you give us a sneak peek at the collection?
My muse is a modern woman who wants to stand out from a crowd, but in a good way, and while being comfortable. My pieces are designed to combine with each other or other pieces to make it easy for an individual to create their own style. My signature item is a reversible handmade hat which makes it easy to add a subtle sophistication to any outfit. I like it when women know what they want, and don't need hand-holding to figure out how to wear something. Lately, some inspiration for the collection has come from watching Mad Men. Although I have always created retro-styled apparel, the costume design for that show is just overwhelmingly inspirational.
Who are your three favorite designers and why?
Almost all of my favorite designers are independents. I really get motivated by seeing other indie designers taking risks, building brands, and going through the same processes that I am. I like designers who, like myself, utilize sustainable fibers and produce locally handmade apparel. Miriam Coffey is a friend of mine, she is a designer from St. Louis, who is very inspiring to me and I love her design aesthetic. Abigail Glaum-Lathbury remains an inspiration to me, she is a Chicago based designer who makes conceptual pieces. I own a couple of her pieces and they are cut very interestingly. OK, so for one who is famous (and not contemporary): Cristobal Balenciaga. He transformed fashion with his cutting edge silhouettes. And he gets tons of bonus points for being Spanish.
What is your favorite color to wear and how does it make you feel?
Grey. I am not sure how it makes me feel but I sure do own a lot of it! I like the way it contrasts with my new peachy-blonde colored hair!
Who are two of your favorite bands right now?
Can you tell us five of your favorite places in Chicago?
#1 Om on the Range Yoga Studio-- I am obsessed with Bikram Yoga to a point that borders on embarrassing.
#2 Café Iberico-- I lived in Spain for three years and the owner of this amazing tapas restaurant is from Galicia, the region where I lived, so its very authentic and fun.
#3 Promontory Point in the summer-- its a beach south of Chicago, so nice for a little get-away.
#4 Urban Belly-- yum! Delicious Asian Fusion.
#5 My new storefront in Ukranian Village, 2556 W Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60622. It will be opening in May. I am so excited! A Squasht By Les Store! The first one ever after five years of being in business, so its something to celebrate!
Stop by the Squasht by Les Trunk Show at Clothing Xchange during the Stella Shops Boutique Crawl on Friday, April 23!
Purchase your All Access Passes for the Naked Without Us Fashion and Music Festival before they sell out! Passes are only $30 and are available at Grimeys.