I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Lenna and Catherine, the dynamic mother- daughter duo behind the stunning label GALANNI, ahead of their showcasing at Fashion Palette SS 13/14.
GALANNI is a label with a unique recipe of femineity, risqué with the essence of savoir-faire. The gorgeous designs bring elements of couture to ready to wear garments, turning heads everywhere.
If you’re interested in purchasing tickets for this amazing runway show, all the information is here!
I absolutely adore all the GALANNI designs, and the way they embrace the feminine figure, while combining elements of couture with classic, wearable designs. Can you tell me how Lenna’s Greek origin has shaped and inspired both of you as designers and how the name GALANNI was formed?
L: I don’t know if it is about being Greek, but I love being a woman. I love showing off curves and being confident, and when you’re talking about evening wear, it should be about you expressing yourself. You want to wear something beautiful, and you want to show it off in a nice way. You should look classy, like a lady, but with a bit of elegance to it.
C: I think with the Greek vision, in a way, with the background, when we go to weddings and family functions we always get dolled up, thats in our culture and thats how we do it, it kind of stems from that. Wherever you go in Greece, even if it’s to a coffee shop, they always get dressed up, so I think Lenna’s background has inspired a lot of the intricate detailing on the designs.
With having such a close bond as Mother and Daughter, how do you feel this has impacted the brand, to what it is today?
C: I think it works perfect, its our secret little ingredient. In terms of the vision, we really work well as a team and we benefit from each other, and I really think that shows through to the garment. Where Lenna’s all about the design, the look, the fabrics and the wear, where as with me, I’m all about the vision and the end result with the detailing and the colours and fabrics all put together. That’s what I think makes GALANNI quite lucky with the way we work together, we don’t work as mother and daughter, we work as fashion designer and creative director.
L: I might design a dress and it will almost be done and Catherine will say “well how about adding a little bit here”. Even with the direction where the business is going to get it where it is, I’d say Catherine does more of the business side. It takes two people, one person can’t do it all.
SJ: You both compliment each other so well!
C: I was always behind the scenes when she was designing for herself and for her friends, so the roll just naturally came together, it was never assigned to me.
With each piece having such individual design elements, where do you take your inspirations from?
L: The inspiration is really how I feel.
C: Even the most plainest fabric, we will have two completely different ideas, we’ll just look at it and we’ll go from there. When you see the fabric…
L & C: You kind of just know.
C: You just have that vision.
L: I don’t even draw, I don’t plan, I just grab those scissors and that fabric, and sit down and make it. So that way I just make the garment and I just design through there.
C: So that’s one thing that you’ll find is a little bit different with us, you won’t find any drawings or sketches, when that fabric arrives through the door, it just tells the story of where we want it to go. That’s the way Lenna’s taught me to do it like that, the material talks to us and we just listen and we follow. That way you just see it come to life and that’s where we get our kick. It’s like a painting and you can’t wait to see it, so we just go full steam ahead with that one design, we can’t wait to see the end result.
What is your favourite part about conceptualising a design?
C: Just that moment where you are creating something and you know you’ve got a winner on your hands. It’s that kick that makes you want to have that adrenaline rush again and again with the next design. That’s kind of how we do our collections. We don’t want just a pretty dress, if it doesn’t have that ‘wow’, it doesn’t get accepted into the collection.
L: And it has to be unique, we’re not interested in following the trends. If everyone is doing a green dress, I probably won’t even do one.
C: We have this rule in our design studio that we don’t want magazines, we don’t want whats in the latest trends. If you look too much a magazines or what celebrities are wearing, in a way you don’t realise that you’re just moulding your ideas into what others have done. We want a fresh palette in our heads.
Being so involved in the construction process of each design, how long does it take to create a piece or a collection?
C: Well, for example, the next collection that’s coming out, that was actually designed in a week. We’re on such a roll where we’re always busy, because we’re so hands on with the company, we are short in time, but Lenna just somehow, with some miracle, it just gets done. We don’t analyse and we don’t get stuck with whats on-trend, because when you do that, you can get stuck with ideas. Just get the fabrics lined up and just keep a roll. There are no mannequins, its just on Lenna’s body, a true size 6, because with mannequins it does make it hard to visualise it on a person.
L: Because my methods are self taught, they’re probably different to a normal way. Some designs could take five minutes, others could take a couple of hours, there are some that have a bit more to tackle, but the end result has to be a stunning dress, otherwise it doesn’t make it.
C: When we allow for longer time, which we have allocated for this year, there are going to be phenomenal pieces, but a normal duration for when a collection is made up, is a week. We think of the quality and detailing before all else.
Congratulations on your up and coming showcasing at Fashion Palette, I’m so excited to see the entire collection on the runway!
C: We’re so thrilled! this is our first runway. We’ve never really focused on PR or getting our dresses in magazines, we’ve just thought “lets make beautiful dresses” so this is our first and we’re so excited!
What was the process like for you in preparing for this show?
C: The process is mayhem at GALANNI, I find that there’s fabric everywhere, at the same time theres calmness, because we’re confident in the designs. It makes you realise why you’re in this industry, for this moment. This moment is what makes the label and what makes it successful. Its all hands on, we work really late hours, we don’t have any time off. At the moment GALANNI is seven days a week, we work early mornings and late nights, we had no sleep at all last night, so we’re on a twenty-four hour stretch with the photo shoots and the detailing and because we work in couture, I find that we dare to do what a lot of other labels don’t because it is a lot of work. Some of these dresses have the same detailing as a wedding dress and they take six months to get made.
What kind of tone are you expecting to set?
C: Its an unusual bundle even through to our music choice. We have this song that has the most amazing beat to it and the lyric choice of it is actually saying good bye to their loved ones. We love it because everyone usually goes for the love songs or the happy beats, and this kind of has a sensual, very sexy tone but with the beat. So, music alone gives it a very unusual lift to the room, and our dresses are very much like that, they’re very sensual, they’re very structured, it’s definitely a ‘wow’ collection, with the tones through from gold, nude, black, red, the palette even is very seductive, but vibrant at the same time, the detailing brings it to another level. My vision from the music through to the runway is very sensual, its feminine, and all about the woman’s body. The more you look at it, the more depth it has, and thats just like the song choice, and thats the look that we’re going for.
Since 2004, when GALANNI was launched, the brand has achieved so much growth, what goals do you hope to achieve for both yourselves and the brand, in the future?
C: We still have the same set of goals that we had when we started in 2004, I find once you achieve those goals, you sometimes get lost. When Lenna first started I remember asking her what her goals are and where she wants to be, and she just said “I don’t have any goals, I just want to design a gorgeous collection”. So we’ve never really set goals to have X amount of celebrities wearing our collections or be in magazines or on Tv, we just want to always maintain the look we wanted from day 1 and grow from there.
L: Just like a person may feel differently in two or three years time, thats how my designs are, it just grows in how my environment and everything around me makes me feel.
C: We don’t dive into PR, our past collections were a hidden little treasure, and we do some PR, but we never want that to sidetrack us from our designs, because thats very easy to do in this industry, to focus too much on exposure and forget about the production. At the end of the day, you can take a great photo but we want that dress to look fantastic to every single person that walks in the store, we don’t look at it from a money point of view, we want them to look good. Our hard work at the end of the day, we want it for the customers- thats our main goal.
SJ: That will make all the difference in the end.
C: It does, just all those tiny little things, we’re so hands on with everything that it helps GALANNI grow, we’re hands on with everything, I think once you pass it on to other people, the communication gets lost, and we want full communication through everything- from customer service to our online store to beading.
SJ: That’s incredible, not many people do that anymore
C: And I don’t blame them, it’s a lot of hard work, it takes all your day and night.
L: And if you’re after fast money, thats not a way to do that. A lot of labels find a look that they like and that works for them, and they stick with it.
C: As Lenna has always said, with success comes commitment, not convenience, and thats the way we’ve always been, it’s always about our collection, from our Instagram to our designs.
How do YOU run in stilettos?
L & C: [Laughs] We clutch our handbag and go full steam ahead. We run with the stilettos, we don’t run against it, we’ve got our sexiest pair on, doesn’t matter if its a thin stiletto with no foot support, we love the shoes on the foot and we just run with it.
Sammy Jade xx