Studio Visit – Stoned Immaculate

The L.A.-based line may be more vintage-crazed than we are.

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At Nasty Gal, our obsession with vintage is no joke. So when we first laid eyes on Stoned Immaculate–the L.A.-based line whose vintage-inspired pieces are, to quote Bono, even better than the real thing–we lost it. That said, it wasn’t till we met up with the duo behind the brand, creative force Chloe Chippendale and business visionary Elliot Hans, that we fully fell in love. The bohemian aesthetic that defines the label isn’t just a passing trend to the pair; it’s rooted in their fidelity to the creative counterculture that thrived throughout L.A.’s nooks in the ’60s and ’70s (the brand name itself is a nod to Jim Morrison’s poem by the same name). We spent a few hours in the team’s Beachwood Canyon studio, talking about the brand’s evolution, the mystical influence of Laurel Canyon, and why Rod Stewart is the father of it all.

Where are you from?
Chloe: I’m from L.A. originally, but my parents moved to Vashon Island, Washington when I was 12. Later I moved to Hawaii, then Santa Cruz, Topanga Canyon, and then here to Beachwood Canyon.

Before designing, you exclusively sold vintage. How did you get your start in vintage?
Chloe: My grandmother owned a vintage shop and my mom was always selling vintage at the flea markets, so I grew up around it. But I didn’t get into it until high school; that’s when I started going to Bargain World and Goodwill to shop for clothes. It naturally evolved from there. When I started styling I became even more interested in vintage–

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That’s right, you’re a stylist, too! Tell us about that.
Chloe: I don’t do it as much now that I have my line, but I still make room for it. When I moved back to L.A., I started working with friends and got connected with some really cool people–Jason Lee Parry and Henrik Purienne are some. But even with styling, I’m always focusing on the vintage. Anything I pull or rent is vintage. If it’s for a brand, I’ll mix vintage into the looks. It finally clicked that if I had a vintage store, I could buy clothes, wear them for a while, resell them, and have a constantly rotating supply of cool pieces. It was an awesome way to keep my styling fresh and be able to afford to keep shopping for myself.

Elliot: For me personally, something that was so inspiring about Chloe was the content she was creating through styling and art direction. It had so much depth and weight. Anyone who looks at her Instagram can immediately see how talented she is in creating that authentic atmosphere. It never feels forced.

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How did you transition from purely vintage, to a vintage-inspired line?
Chloe: Elliot and I met through mutual friends when we were living in Topanga Canyon. He pitched the idea of a line to me, but I was pretty resistant to be honest. I loved the one-of-a-kind aspect of vintage; that was hard to let go of. So I sat on it for a while, and called him up a few months later when I was ready to talk about it.

Elliot: I had a background in vintage with my creative consulting agency, so I think that helped. In fact, this Rod Steward tee I’m wearing is vintage, and it was the inspiration for the first line I did. I wanted everything I produced to match this tee, so I became obsessed with figuring out how to wear down the cotton, and get the holes just right, and match all the tiny imperfections. When we met, I was looking for a new project and thought the DNA of Stoned Immaculate was so authentic and exciting. That’s how I pitched it to Chloe; I knew I could help her create a line that maintained that genuine look, was made in California, and used sustainable fabrications.

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Tell us about your design process.
Chloe: I look to vintage for inspiration. I’ll hang on to pieces that I think are amazing and draw on those when I go back to design, changing certain details and filling in the gaps with historical references from the overall concept. Our Spring ’16 concept was Lady of the Canyon, so I was drawing inspiration from the ’60s and ’70s’ Laurel Canyon culture. There was a great movement of musicians into the canyon–Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, The Byrds, Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin, The Mamas and the Papas. That melting pot was influencing the entire music scene; it became its own sub-culture.

What do you think was special about Laurel Canyon that it was chosen by so many icons?
Elliot:
Everyone at that time was leaving that corporate structure and seeking out a refuge–Laurel Canyon was that place. It was off the grid, where people could be free without being a part of “the man” or the structure of the city. I still feel that. Laurel Canyon has a neutral state of energy, which is so rare in L.A. where there’s an intense, constant buzz.

Chloe: You’re in nature, you’re up in the hills–it’s almost an inexplicable magnetic energy that happens. Things start attracting each other and inspiring each other. When I go to Laurel Canyon, I still feel that magic.

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Is L.A. a source of inspiration for the brand on the whole?
Chloe: Definitely. There are so many cool pockets and so much history–Topanga Canyon, Laurel Canyon, Venice Beach. I’m trying to keep the brand located in Los Angeles and each look book inspired by a different area within the city, because each pocket has an energy of its own. If not L.A., then definitely California.

Beyond L.A., who or what inspires you?
Chloe: I have different muses for each collection, but some of my favorites are Goldie Hawn, Jane Fonda, Michelle Phillips, Farrah Fawcett, Diana Ross, Charlotte Rampling, Joni Mitchell, Shelley Duvall, Peggy Lipton, Stevie Nicks, Pam Grier… it’s a long list.

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What’s on the horizon for the brand?
Chloe:
We’re playing with the idea of launching accessories.

Elliot: Yeah, we have a lot of exciting ideas. Stoned Immaculate is a lifestyle brand, so we see loads of possibilities, but in the immediate we’re excited about sunglasses and maybe even housewares. I know when people look at Chloe’s art direction, they want everything they see–the chair, the lamp–so who knows what it could turn into. If there’s an audience for it, we’ll make it authentically and we’ll stick to it.

Gotta have more vintage vibes in your life? Get your fix here.

Photos by Michelle Mayer