Part store, part atelier the large sun-drenched studio in Silverlake, Los Angeles is the center of creativity for Canadian transplant Ali Blankley. Ali’s label HAZEL BROWN evolved from a vein of artistic expression alongside her paintings and other art projects. These days Hazel Brown is the center of her focus, with a collection that exudes fun femininity, deconstructionism, with pure and delicate luxury fabrics.
My first introduction to the Hazel Brown Collection was through social media, Instagram to be precise, I became instantly enamored, stalking her ever since. A few months ago, I visited Ali Blankly, the designer and founder, at her store on the east side of LA. We chatted about all sorts of things, NYC versus LA, Canadian and Australian similarities, men, and short versions of our lives preceding the here and now. The more I talked to Ali, the more I wanted to enter her rich world of poetry, fabrics, and creativity, so it was inevitable that we also discussed collaboration on a photo essay featuring her designs.
AGB: Hi Ali, can you please let us know the philosophy behind the brand?
AB: It’s simple really, the philosophy behind the brand is the same philosophy I use every day, I look for beauty in everyday things, it could be a sandwich or a coat, visual poetry is everywhere, it often is a matter of disposing of the noise around it.
AGB: When and where was the seed idea for starting Hazel Brown?
AB: One day a woman who I sold several paintings to asked me about my own clothing, which I handmade. She had a friend with a boutique in Venice Beach, California and introduced us. Barbara Phillips of Minnie T’s placed an order for 10 hand-stitched linen skirts, with poems typed on each. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but it did seem to be working. The same year I was selected for Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion, and that was the point of no return. There was a lot of luck and timing involved, had it not been a moment in time when deconstructed clothing was popular, I could have never started this business.
AGB: Where and how do you source your materials?
AB: Finding a balance between sustainability, production, and sales is complicated. With our sleep and lounge brand Domi, we are only working with 100% organic and recycled cotton, because it has become affordable and accessible now.
We use a variety of natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk, for the Hazel Brown collection. We do our best to source locally, and because we are made to order, we can produce the garments with zero waste. The new atelier in Silverlake is great because we can use up any extra fabrics from the cuttings to make smaller products to sell in the shop. All of our garments are sewn by small family sewing shops locally in Los Angeles, except for our sweaters which are hand knit in India through a women's collective serving women who cannot leave home to work.
AGB: What's your definition of beauty?
AB: Objects that show signs of use and age are always prettiest for me that applies to people too, but when people are happy, they really shine.
AGB: Name one person that has been a constant inspiration in your life?
AB: My son.
AGB: Which show or podcast are you binging or listening to at the moment?
3929 Fountain Ave, Unit A
Los Angeles, CA 90029
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