One of the most exciting aspects of London is the sense that you get that “anything can happen” here. It’s such an enormous, dense and diverse city; so many brilliant people working on so many brilliant projects. Recently, I was lucky enough to cross paths with one such person - Laurie Nouchka, a visual artist and keen yogi, who has combined these passions into seriously stunning, one-of-a-kind activewear.
This year, Laurie is launching a new range inspired by Dubai, LA and...my favourite of course…Sydney! Whether you’re a fittie, fashionista or an art aficionado, you will fall in love with Laurie Nouchka; it’s functional, stylish, wearable art.
Laurie and I sat down to coffee recently to talk about her designs and upcoming travels to launch the new range, and she kindly agreed to this little interview. I hope you enjoy learning more about Laurie Nouchka (and I also hope that you manage to get your hot little hands on one of her limited edition pieces)!
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to pursue an artistic career.
My dad studied art and so from the moment I was born I was being drawn. From an early age he was putting a paintbrush in my hand just to keep me still. I went to quite an academic school but I had parents and an art teacher who always encouraged me and my somewhat abstract ideas. I once created a video of me sleeping with a soundtrack. I got my mum to come in and film me sleeping hoping that she would catch me sleep talking or moving. Instead it was just a 30 minute video of me lying still. Not one of my most successful pieces but a significant turning point in knowing could think about art in ways other than limited to a canvas.
I studied art direction at university and after leaving became quite disillusioned with the ‘creative’ world and being the creator. I was more interested in working with young people and championing their creativity. I worked for eight years as a young people's programme creative producer at the Roundhouse in London and loved every minute but after around five years I started to feel the need to explore my own artistic output again. That’s when I took a break for four months, ended up in Barcelona, found Gaudi and never looked back. I carried on working at the Roundhouse for another three years on some really exciting projects but it soon became apparent that it was now or never. Nearing the end I was allowed another month off to do a residency in Barcelona and spent every day drawing Gaudi – I wanted to make really sure I was making the right decision. When I got back I knew exactly what I had to do and handed in my notice the next day.
The idea of ‘being’ an artist was never really something I truly believed possible. I still don’t know what it means and try not to define it – but when people ask what I do I mostly just say ‘I’m an artist’ and leave it open as to how I define it depending on how I’m feeling on that day.
2. Why did you decide to move on to showcasing your designs on activewear?
I knew that I wanted to take my drawings and paintings off the canvas and as a keen yogi and swimmer I just loved the idea of seeing these buildings towering up your legs – it was more of a visual thing for me. This then really resonated with the yogi market. I would never call myself a fashion designer which makes it quite tricky when people ask what you do. I’m a visual artist through and through and I don’t think that means you only do paintings on canvas, I’ve just made the body mine.
3. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming 2016 collection.
For SS16 I have created pieces based on architecture in Dubai, Sydney and LA. This was a really exciting collection for me as I got to explore a whole cross section of iconic buildings and consider new colour palettes that I felt represented each different location.
We sold out of the first editions of the Burj Al Arab design very quickly so immediately had to re-order the next which was really exciting.
I’ll be travelling to each city early 2016 to launch the pieces with a whole series of events which I have to say was not something I considered when I focused on cities as my subject but it is certainly turning out to be a real perk! It’s also great to introduce different cities to their respective collections though I often find there is no allegiance to their city – often someone in London wants something from the Barcelona collection and vice versa!
I’m especially excited about going to Sydney as I spent two months in Australia six years ago and found an amazing tutor who helped me rediscover my love of life drawing. My favourite design from this collection has to be the Sydney Opera house – which is also turning out to be a favourite amongst others. I like the colour palette, which is quite different from any of the others. It makes me think of the amazing light and shades of blue you get in Australia.
After Aus I'll be heading to LA and can’t wait to experience the contrast and try some of the amazing class crazes they have got going on out there.
4. What else keeps you busy outside of your activewear designs?
Swimming and Yoga are a big part of my every day. I’ve also recently got into surfing – which I am very slowly getting better at. I love it, it’s just difficult to get to the sea regularly enough to really improve. Any excuse to get in the water and be on the waves though. I tend to spend time with my family and get home any free chance I have. My dad has a boat and I love to just go and hang out with him – even when he is just cleaning it – which he does a lot. Also hanging out with my friends, cooking and spontaneous fun which includes dancing. I have to schedule in time for me to switch off but when I do I’m pretty good at letting go.
5. What's next for Laurie Nouchka?
2016 is going to be a pivotal year for us. The start of the year will see us travelling a lot to launch the new collections in Dubai, Sydney and LA then we will be launching a further three city inspired collections in Autumn.
In between that we will be collaborating with a range of exciting brands and companies to create LAURIE NOUCHKA X inspired ranges.
It will be a year of growth for the brand in both size but also product ranges. We will be bringing out bikinis in time for Spring and a few pieces for the men so watch this space!
Connect with Laurie: