April 26, 2010

Style Profile | Ally Capellino

Ally Capellino, aka Alison Lloyd, 51, took up her professional name (the Italian for 'little hat') when she set up her eponymous fashion label in 1980 with her then creative partner and husband Jono Platt. It was restructured as an accessories company in 1999 and produces two seasonal men's and women's collections a year. She lives in Hackney, London, and has two children, Hamish, 22, and Aggie, 17.
Eye opener At 7am my alarm goes off and I press snooze a few times. Then I get up, have a cup of tea and do some yoga. I'm quite old and I need to keep bendy.

Breakfast Muesli. I make my own with roasted oats, raisins, walnuts, almonds, dried apricots and pumpkin seeds.
On her bike At about 8.30am I cycle from my home in Hackney to my studio in Shoreditch. It's a two-mile route through London Fields and Broadway Market, past Hackney City Farm and through Columbia Market.
Biggest indulgence Once a week a woman comes to my studio for a one-to-one yoga class. Often I am lying prostrate at the end of the session when people start arriving for work. They have to creep around me.
Collections I'm wary of collecting things because then people start giving them to you. My mum used to collect toast racks. She ended up with hundreds, grew to hate them and threw them all out.
On her kitchen shelf Blown goose eggs that my children and I have painted over the years at Easter. One is dated 1990 so we must have started then. There are also a couple that I bought in Romania and one with a picture of me that Hamish's friend painted for my 50th birthday.
Fancy dress box I have a hat and wig collection on hand for parties. The best and worst one is a purple bob that looks like you could be wearing it seriously - it makes me look like a teacher. There's also a Chinese construction worker's hat from the 1930s. The hats come and go because people walk off with them.
On display Two little vintage children's dresses that I bought in India - so much work has gone into the embroidery.
Artwork My ex-husband's brother is the portrait painter Theo Platt and he painted me and Hamish, then one year old, for my 30th birthday. I also have a big 1950s poster of the bones and nerves of the body that I bought at the Thursday morning antiques market at Spitalfields. The kitchen and living-room are big and bright and I think the poster's black background works well.
Favourite piece of furniture A long oak table that used to be the counter of our shop in Soho. We had 20 people round it at Christmas.
Pets A cat called Obelix. He's horrible. He scratches my bedroom window and wakes me up in the middle of the night.
How she designs I design in my head, but never when I'm at the studio. Sometimes I come up with something in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. The design always comes from the fabric, so I'll find a piece of material and then decide what to do with it. I have a box of textile bits that I have picked up in charity and secondhand shops.
Shopping I never buy anything new. Shopping gives me a headache - I like finding things by accident.
In her wardrobe I go through phases with what I wear. Last week I wore black. When I have an inspiration for a combination of clothes I can make the outfit last three or four days.
Shoes Among my favourites are some Birkenstocks customised with stuck-on jewels, some plimsolls from the 1970s that I bought on Brick Lane, a pair of red high heels that Aggie and I have made brilliant use of and some slippers from a village called Mandi in the Himalayas.
Best bargain A 1950s yellow cashmere cardigan, with holes in the elbows, that I bought for $7 from a New York thrift store about 20 years ago. I wear it over a black dress. My style is scruffy smart - I like formal clothes but not in a formal condition.
Abandoned treasures I have lots of bits of block and tackle from when they were clearing out the docks in east London. I also have a round, blue wooden cable drum that we found in the woods near Mile End when we lived there. We rolled it home, put it on blocks and use it as a table.
On her coffee table Two weeks ago we drove up to Yorkshire to visit my mother. I mentioned someone famous and my brother said, 'Oh, Ally's name-dropping again.' Then I found a book called Namedropper in the Cancer Research charity shop where my mum works. It was published in 1970 and has all the vital statistics of the stars of the time.
Signature dish If I'm home in the evening I always cook. I'm really stingy and get great pleasure from making a meal from an empty fridge. I'm a stone soup person.
Bedside book Kazuo Ishiguro is my favourite author. I loved When We Were Orphans. I read in bed but usually fall asleep after three pages.

1 Sewing was a total revelation for me. I made clothes for myself from when I was 13, and I'd force my brother into things I'd make for him. I was quite entrepreneurial - friends would place orders and pay me to make them things.
2 My mom made all my clothes when I was little. One that stands out is an apricot dress with embroidered chicks on it in black, white and grey - the print had such a beautiful 50s feel to it. That's why I started sewing at such a young age.
3 It's important to keep an open mind about what you wear. I'm at the stage now where I'm not very comfortable in anything too revealing, but I'll still wear a bikini this summer. People with confidence in what they wear are attractive.
4 Don't throw things away. I disagree with the idea that one's wardrobe should be streamlined. It's all about recycling the same things in different combinations. You're expanding your wardrobe without constantly buying things.
5 Dress like a toddler and accessorise like mad. I also love army surplus and functional clothes teamed with great accessories. Style is about being brave, but foolish, too.

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