In an essay about Luella Barley, Ana Kinsella — the editor of our first issue — wrote: “F Scott Fitzgerald wrote that there are no second acts in American lives, but luckily, English girls have never had that problem. At least, not according to Luella Bartley, who has posited seven – seven! – ages of the English girl, from ‘school daze’ to ‘recessionista’ and finally ‘granny nirvana’. She’s a living embodiment of that school of thought, too. In her own career she hopped from St Martins kid to Evening Standard fashion assistant through to the glory days of her eponymous label and sadly, its liquidation in 2009. Girls and women of many different stripes wailed in despair at the news.”
Why did she quit? Even though there was money going in, it all went down the drain just as quickly, as she had to pay for everything, from production to the shows, she said to Style.com.
During her break from the industry, she moved to the countryside, wrote a book and enjoyed family life. In an interview with the Guardian, she said about her friendship with Katie Grand, who she met during her time at St Martins: “We were very ambitious in our 20s, but I peeled off from that for a bit. Katie is much more of a worker than I am. I need the country, my family, boundaries. She’s at the top of her career – I had a period where I stopped working to bring up kids in Cornwall. I still get nostalgic, though, for the times we used to wander through Soho drunk and singing. The world seemed full of possibility.”
And though the world seemed rose-coloured at that time — and it may have slightly collapsed after she had to close her brand — a new realm of opportunity returned when her close friend Katie Hillier took on the role of creative director at Marc by Marc Jacobs and one of her first requests to the label, was that Luella should work with her. This was in 2013, and Luella took on the role of women’s ready-to-wear design director. Two years later, we are still in love with what the design duo create for the label.
To celebrate the positivity of possibility, new beginnings and the spirit of creativity, first year BA Graphic Design student Dom Sebastian shot shoes from Marc By Marc Jacobs, as our own personal ode to Luella, and Katie Hillier.