Designer Spotlight: Cleola

Designer Spotlight: Cleola

Mathias Rosenzweig highlights up-and-coming designers to know now. Here, L.A.-based stylist-turned-designer Savannah Davis and her fun, flirty line, Cleola.

Mathias Rosenzweig highlights up-and-coming designers to know now. Here, L.A.-based stylist-turned-designer Savannah Davis and her fun, flirty line, Cleola.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

Fashion is well-known for taking itself too seriously sometimes, approaching clothing with too severe an air or gravitas, but there are still those keen on keeping it playful. For instance, Savannah Davis, the LA-based designer behind Cleola. The designer's unique aeshtetic reexamine fashion’s potential for fun. Having previously worked as a stylist’s assistant in New York, Davis began designing clothing for friends and family, calling upon childlike fixations like cowboys and fairy princesses for inspiration. That, paired with see-through silk tops and cheekily cut undergarments, give the line a sexy, “adult” vibe without losing a touch of humor.

V spoke to the emerging talent about her New Year’s resolution, how she started designing, and her love for Zoë Kravitz.

 

What would be the mission statement for your clothing line? 

Cleola is for girls/women/whomever who want to do what they want and dress up like royalty. It's all about mystery and fantasy and being whatever you want to be.

How did you learn how to design and turn your creations into a reality? 

About a year ago, I started interning for a lovely woman, Maria Stanley, who has an independent clothing line. She pretty much taught me everything that I know about design, and I organized her studio and played with her dog in exchange.

When and how did you realize you wanted to be a designer as a profession? 

I had been living in New York working as a freelance fashion assistant and wanted to start something on my own, so I moved back home to LA and it kind of just came naturally. I started sketching out the collection, got my samples made and sure enough, I was shooting a look book over the summer! I decided to become a designer and somehow I made it happen... It's still strange to see it come to reality.

What are some of the most prominent inspirations for your line? 

Definitely my friends and the kids around me. Everyone that I'm close to enjoys the act of putting together a look, and growing up, all my friends put a lot of effort into getting ready and finding cool pieces. I always love to see who has a good outfit on when I go out. Besides that, movies and characters and various landscapes tend to inspire me quite a bit.

What movie, TV show, or music video had the best fashion in your opinion? 

Pierrot le Fou and Paris, Texas probably are the most visually pleasing fashion-wise for me. The colors in both are vibrant and the style is so significant to the story. Which really brings me back to Cleola. It's always been about telling a story. Exploring a moment in time in a beautiful place with wonderfully intriguing people. I don't think the fashion would be what it is if there was no backstory.

Why do you think fashion is important on a larger scale? 

I think it brings a lot of the world together in a creative sense. All these young people from all over are collaborating and making beautiful things and I think it shows a sense of hope and “refresh” to the masses when most of what is being spewed out to us is pretty depressing. Also, fashion is something everyone remembers for decades, and I think that in itself is important and makes me want to keep creating.

New York or LA? 

LA for sure, Can't beat that sunset. Also, I'm from LA so I'm a bit biased, but the vibe there really suits me.

If you could have anyone be the face of your line, who would it be?

I think It would definitely be Zoe Kravitz. She's probably one of the most beautiful, rad girls in the spotlight right now.

If you could collaborate with anyone, whom would it be? 

I really am interested in collaborating with Harley Weir. I've been following her work for forever, so it would be a dream. I think Cleola and her would be a good fit.

What is the hardest part of your job? 

The stress! Meeting deadlines has never been my strong suit and staying on top of everything without a team has been a serious struggle. The fashion industry has quite a strict and unforgiving schedule. I'm learning to move a bit quicker I think. Hopefully, I'll have some more helping hands this upcoming season.

What is the most important part of your job? 

Making sure the clothes I design make people feel good and happy and excited and that I stay excited about the pieces. I think if you're not creating something you think is incredible, then why bother?

What's your New Year's resolution?

I need to exercise and drink water, and sleep more—never getting enough sleep. I hope to be able to focus a lot more attention on Cleola this year. I'm excited for what is to come!

How do you define success? 

I think success is purely based on how well you balance your life. If you know how to stay healthy, make money, and be happy, I think that's all success really is.

Credits: Photography Walker Bunting

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