Callula Lillibelle dresses real women for their real lives

There are some collections I look forward to every season, simply because they make me smile.  Callula Lillibelle is one of those collections.  For one thing, Fashion Week means it’s time to meet William Calvert and Melanie Fraser Hart again, an every six month tradition I wouldn’t miss for the world.  They may be two of the nicest fashion types I’ve ever met.  Then, there are the clothes.

William, a high-end, couture-style designer, and Melanie, a businesswoman and mom, came together with to form Callula Lillibelle with one idea in mind:  to create, as William put it, “a contemporary brand that was fun and flirty, well-made and well-priced and really addressed women.”  Well, they succeeded.

The looks featured for Spring/Summer 2012 are as close to universal as any women’s line could possibly be.  There are beautifully tailored pencil skirts in white, with delicate lace tops.  Prints were represented in pretty polka dots and flowers, but grown-up flower patterns, not a tacky explosion of flora, or the tiny flowers that would only look right if you were off to milk the cows.

There are perfectly tapered pants, and even flirty summer shorts.  But where Callula Lillibelle really shines, I think, is in dresses.  The hemlines are a bit longer, but never dowdy.  Along with basic black and white, there are pops of color everywhere, including an airy green gown which Melanie Fraser Hart described as “the bride on top of the wedding cake”.  It was kind of fantasy dressing, but somehow wearable in the real world.  These are timeless designs, created with every woman in mind.

Incredibly calm backstage, pre-presentation, William described their inspiration.  “We started out thinking, who is a Sophia Loren for 2013?  Who represents that icon?  And we started looking at girls like Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz and Beyonce and Rihanna, people who are unapologetically feminine and sassy and multitasking and saucy, even, and we started to think, what would she wear?”  Their muses were women with “dynamic lifestyles, who do so many different things, wear so many different hats.”

The makeup, by Jose Rivera for the Sephora Pro-Team, was a perfect match, inspired by resort-skin, lots of bronze, nudes and a bright pop of color on the lips.  Jose told me, “there’s a lot of bright colors in the collection, so it’s a great way to wear bright color with nude skin, nude eyes.  It’s really gorgeous, feel-good makeup.”

And the legendary Laurent D from Prive created the rough, yet structured, hair looks.  “It’s like, there’s a lot of texture to the hair, but it is still very chic,” he said.  “There’s a bun in the back, and a very low pony-tail, but the texture is most important.”

Everything about the presentation was beautiful, feminine and wearable, and, according to Melanie, “fun and fabulous.”  She said, “My goal in this business was to make every piece like a Christmas present when a woman puts it on.”

It’s guaranteed to be a Spring and Summer full of Christmas for Callula Lillibelle’s customers.

Photography:Anton Brookes

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