We had a chance to sit down with uber chic Lois Samuels, designer, super mom, and model, to discuss life and her line VESSEL.
Cannon: How did your life as a model prepare you for the line?
Lois Samuels: It showed me the business from so many angles. From the process that went into the fit of clothing, the selection and combination of fabrics used, understanding how designers' inspiration and theme was incorporated throughout their presentations, starting with the selection of sound and venue, and models chosen with hair and makeup to match.
I also saw a lot of designers come and go. It was interesting to see what kept designers in the business. How their personalities varied, how some personalities garnered more attention than others. Overall, the core foundation was to have a good quality product no matter what.
I saw how fickle a business it was as well, everything moved so quickly, not much was absorbed. Going from New York to London, Paris, then Milan and seeing the same models, editors, buyers. It just didn’t seem possible to retain it all.
Because of the nature of the business, its unpredictability, I suppose modeling did prepare me in many ways on how to deal with the victories and the lessons as a designer. I feel more in control of my career now even though much still depends on outside factors. But most importantly, I prepare myself on being consistent and true to my vision
C: What was it like shooting with Meisel? Did you understand what a big deal it was at the time?
LS: I had absolutely no idea who Steven Meisel was at that time. I only knew it was a BIG deal and he was the one who made things happen! I remember the booking so well. I was signed to Bethann Management and based in New York for a few months and it was very still, nothing was really happening in my career, so I headed back to Jamaica. As soon as my Mom drove into the garage at home after picking me up from the airport in Montego Bay, the phone was ringing, I ran out of the car to get the call, it was my agent Tyron Barrington saying that I had to get back on the next flight that evening. And that’s how I shot the CK One Campaign the next morning. (It is funny you ask, as I just had a request to go into his offices a few weeks ago.)
C: Tyron is such an amazing booker and person! Shout out! What designer inspired you to become a designer?
LS: There isn’t a particular designer I could say that inspired me to design. I have great admiration for so many designers out there. I have been sketching since I was about 14 and having items made by a dress maker called “Miss Winnie” in my town Santa Cruz in Jamaica for many years. I admire structure and simplicity and draw references to classic tailoring as well as uniforms. I had to wear uniforms religiously each day growing up. I didn’t necessarily admire them then but do so now. They bring so much structure in the chaos.
I like the works of Jil Sander, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, and Ann Demeulemeester Menswear to name a few.
C: What was your favorite show you walked in?
LS: That’s a tough question! There were so many wonderful ones but the standouts were very theatrical. For example, Alexander Mcqueen for Givenchy, Mugler, as well as Gaultier. But I also enjoyed the vibe working for designers like Issey Miyake, Christophe Lemaire, and Rucci.
C: What was your favorite shoot?
LS: There were many. But I always had great admiration for Ruven Afanador, Ellen Von Unworth, and Peter Lindbergh. Getting my first Vogue cover for German Vogue shot by Walter Chin and shooting Italian Vogue with Peter Lindbergh as well as Essence with Ruven Afanador gave a great feeling of accomplishment.
C: I love the aesthetic of the line — so sleek and modern.
LS: Thank you. I love simplicity. I feel a woman doesn’t need much to be or feel sexy and beautiful. So much depends on what one already feels inside, self love, and acceptance. And I believe my pieces just nurture all of that a little bit more.C: How do you get inspired for each collection?
LS: I get inspired by life experiences, emotions, art, music, and all the various historical imprints in my mind. Last season's collection was called Lady in Waiting and I was inspired by my vision of the “modern day” lady in waiting, one who is in constant motion and change. Always having to reinvent, realign, and reemerge herself on her journey in this life. There were reversible dresses and coats, transforming trousers, and skirts with removable bustles. As well as cocooning, ballooning shapes which represented the stages of rejuvenation and rebirth. I connected to this journey so much and am surrounded by so many experiencing the same transitions.
C: The name is amazing, tell us….
LS: The word itself vessel has always meant so much to me. I see us all as vessels of light, love, and spirit. I also see clothing as a vessel that uplifts the spirit of the wearer. Once they are feeling good in it!
C: What is your favorite piece and why?
LS: My favorite piece? I see myself in almost every piece in the collection. I love them all!
C: What kind of woman do you design for?
LS: A confident woman who loves herself, loves nature, art, life. She wants to invest in clothing that’s not a fad but classic pieces to last from season to season. I also offer the bespoke service to women who wish to be a part of the process and enjoy that relationship with her wardrobe.
C: LACROIX? MUGLER? What was that like? Those are my favorites!
LS: Mugler was AMAZING! I recently watched a presentation I did for him in 1997; the show was endless, there was Jerry Hall, Carmen Dell’ Orefice, and a few of my model friends. Creativity was oozing down the catwalk. Backstage I remember, there was such a Huge Production, so much went into the hair and makeup. A lot of Glam! Every item had over-the-top details with leather, lace, sequins, feathers. These designers were really having fun while creating. So different to how it is today, everyone has to be somewhat safe.
C: Tell us about your book? What was your inspriation?
LS: My first book was called “A Glow in the Dark”and was geared mainly to readers in Jamaica. It shared my story as a model but was really saying you are able to do anything you wish if you believe and be the glow in the dark. The second was called Jamaica Through My Eyes, published in the UK by Mcmillan Caribbean Publishers and it showed my love for photography. I had captured images of home for a few years and approached them about doing a photography book. (They wanted more writing and poetry, so I compromised.) I also am still working on some childrens books.