1. Lara, can you tell us what your indispensable picks from Mode Sportif this season will be?
I love the Los Angeles based brand Algode – their 90s pinch-waist jeans in the softest, pale blue denim feel so right for now, and also, they’re super comfortable. I pair these with a blazer from Anine Bing. They’re fast becoming a wardrobe staple as they’re boxy enough to give a little shape and structure to a look without drowning me.
2. How will you style them with Varley?
I definitely have my go-to pieces, a Frances bra, for example, can be worn underneath the blazer by itself, or with a t-shirt on top. I dress a look up with gold jewellery and a small heel, but I always keep my styling minimal, with just a few key, precious pieces and some shades.
3. In what ways has your experience living between both London and LA influenced your work and design?
I’ve always been very inspired by the elegance of London and Europe, it really is all around us, from the architecture to the way people dress both formally and informally. Equally, I am hugely influenced by the outdoor lifestyle that California offers, it definitely has an impact on you. When you first arrive you can’t help but adapt your wardrobe to that on-the-go lifestyle. I’ve picked up other habits from living in California like waking up at 5 and starting work early, or eating my meals really early and finishing earlier – living and working according to the rise and fall of the sun. Because I have offices in LA and London even pre-Covid we were really good at using Zoom and other digital practices to run the company, so we were quite adaptable for Covid – one unexpected influence on my work!
4. At Mode Sportif we’re entering the cooler months here in Australia... What are your top tips for styling Varley for the winter?
I’m a big fan of layering. The Sherpa jackets are great for keeping you warm on cool evenings, but they’re also lightweight enough to carry around in the day or to throw in your bag. I love wearing them over denim when it starts to get a little cooler. We also have some great knitwear pieces that I like to wear over my activewear.
5. If you could hero one Varley look from the Mode Edit, which would it be and how would you style it?
That’s an easy one! I love the Varley Feather set in taupe, that colour literally goes with anything, it’s so versatile. And then the Anine Bing blazer which I’ve mentioned already is always close to me, with trainers and my favourite cap from Varley.
6. How do you like to style your activewear? Do you have any tips for dressing it up?
I don’t wear trainers a lot unless I’m working out, so I prefer sandals or Birkenstocks with my leggings for pre and post workout. In winter I swap them for a pair of Prada chunky boots with a pair of socks and leggings. A blazer always looks great with a tracksuit, it makes it look dressier especially with a some jewellery. My favourite pieces are little things I’ve collected over the years, gifts from my children like the yellow gold diamond “W” that stands for Wilfred that my little boy gave me in LA, with some gold hoops.
7. Your favourite workout look is…? And why? How important is it to feel both comfortable and confident in your workout gear?
I always wear a pair of Lolux leggings and matching bra – in LA everyone feels confident working out in this, less so in London where I’m often the only person who wears just that. I actually genuinely enjoy working out, and I train quite hard, so how my activewear performs is very important. I like it to look good, but first and foremost it has to function well, and that’s all about the fabric and the fit.
8. What are your priorities when choosing a brand to partner with for retail?
Partnerships are really important to us here at Varley. We like to offer a high level of service, so partnering with people who have the same values and ethos as us is really important. We love Mode Sportif’s edit, it’s beautiful and it’s so good to be represented in Australia.
9. You’ve made sustainability a key factor in everything you do. How does it impact on business and home?
What we always say is that sustainability isn’t a selling tool, it’s something that needs to be every day, non-negotiable. We can always do better, and we strive to continuously improve, looking for new ways to be responsible around our planet, but it’s a work in progress. The great thing is that working on this at home often crosses into work and vice versa. We’ve done lots of little things from switching to reusable glass bottles at home and not buying plastic water bottles any more, to looking at what we consume, buying vegetables in season from the farmer’s market when we can. It’s not always easy – we have two small kids and sometimes you just don’t have the time to go round the farmer’s market! Working in the fashion industry I’ve come to really dislike the fast fashion mentality where you buy something once and it gets thrown out, so I invest in quality pieces I’ll have for many years and that I know I’ll pass on to Lyon. We have that same ethos in the brand – we want people to buy pieces that will last forever.
10. What’s your secret tip to make something super healthy taste even more delicious?
Lots of spice! I put chillis with everything. Seasoning and spice is my go-to. I make a lot of vegetable curries.