This week, JS contributor Chelsea Stuart got to pick the brain of Brooklyn-based designer Kee Edwards. If you didn't already know it, as the founder of Loup Charmant, a versatile resort-wear brand that centers on feminine pieces ideal for beach-to-bar-to-bed wear, she's kind of an expert on fuss-free vacation style. From the inspiration behind her ethereal, holiday-ready pieces and the essentials in her carry-on, to her favorite hotels and where she's headed next, here's everything Edwards had to say.
So let's start with a little background; how did you get started in fashion?
I've been designing things since I was a little kid, and I always knew I would work in fashion. I went to FIT in New York and then worked as a fashion editor for a while and finally launched my first company, Incarnation, in 2007. Soon after I built Loup Charmant, which I've had for about 11 years.
Was there anything that inspired your initial designs, and are there any people or places that continue to inspire you now?
Definitely. My designs are really about a lifestyle, about vacation, about women being relaxed in their own skin. When I was on my honeymoon in Portugal I remember thinking: I need something to wear in hot humid weather that's really beautiful and feminine, and not overtly sexy—like most things were at the time. I wanted something more sensual and subtle—this idea has always influenced my line.
Using organic cotton was important to me, too. The cotton we use now reminds me of ancient Victorian heirloom-quality fabrics and that time period and the travel that happened then. The idea of how cotton moved through areas of the equator, through Europe, Egypt, the West Indies, the Caribbean, the southeast United States, and the pattern that it took through all of these beautiful tropical locations was something I also thought about.
I’ve been researching 2018 trends lately and I've come across a lot of good stuff. What are you excited about this year?
Truthfully, I don’t follow trends at all, but there are certain things I always come back to as a designer. One is the idea of the expat woman who has that Western sensibility but moves to some sort of tropical location like Mediterranean or the Caribbean: I think about what she would want in her wardrobe. I also love the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s style of travel, the way my grandparents and my aunts dressed. In terms of fabrics, I'm a huge fan of sheer because it works so well with cotton layers, and I'm hoping the minimalism that's happening right now will stick around; I like big shapes.
So what are the destinations on your radar now?
I’m planning some work travel and going to Paris and Portugal soon. It’s always nice when your work takes you to nice places! For summer, my husband and I have been trying to decide between either a boat trip in Greece or renting a villa in the South of France. I'll probably be going to the American desert, too—maybe Arizona or Utah—but I’m just starting to put it all together!
Wow. I'm jealous. So what are your must-haves for your carry-on? Any great packing tips?
I have lots of pouches from people like Claire V and Tracey Tanner that I use to organize my carry-on and suitcase. And since plane travel is so dehydrating, I like to use this hydrating hydrogen tincture and these hydrogen tablets which I put in my water. I’m kind of a vitamin and supplement junkie, so I’m also always carrying whatever I’m trying to improve at the time. I love to read, so I carry my Kindle with a big batch of books and my iPad mini for magazines. I use this awesome app, Texture, so I never buy magazines at the airport anymore. I also always carry a watercolor set with me; it's important for me as I always try to find time to watercolor while traveling. As for packing, I love rolling my clothes. I just think it keeps things neater and cleaner, and specifically for Loup Charmant because if our fabric gets wrinkled, or you get it dirty or anything, you can just steam it with the shower and if you need to wash anything out you can just hang it over the sink and it’ll be dry by the time you’re back from dinner.
Do you have a favorite hotel in the world?
I have two favorite hotels; one is an actual property and the other is sort of a villa on a farm. The hotel is in Cape Town and it’s called the Belmond Mount Nelson and it’s stunning. It's a beautiful pink colonial building that makes you feel like you're stepping back in time, and it's on a huge piece of land that’s all gardens, so you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of a city. They can arrange day trips for you to go to wine country or down the cape and they have the best breakfast of anywhere I’ve ever stayed in the world; so many smoothies and tropical fruits, but also prepared plates. My other favorite is Babylonstoren which is just north of Cape Town, in wine country. It's a vineyard and agricultural center—built in the old Dutch style with thatched roofs—and it has two incredible restaurants.
I know you live and work out of Red Hook, Brooklyn. What are your favorite spots in the city?
I love Red Hook, and right now, I really love Pioneer Works—they have a lot of great art and science programs and I think it’s awesome to have something local like that right in my neighborhood. I also like RA MA Institute for Yoga if I want to take a Kundalini class in the city.