Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet Talita Zoe of Koh Samui!

Around five years ago I studied abroad at Oxford and made numerous trips to London. I this trip was the time I fell in love with London. I remember wandering around the streets of Covent Garden and discovering all the amazing shops and cafes in the seven dials. I wandered into a gem of a boutique on Monmouth Street: a place that resembled a luxury pastel colored dollhouse that was filled with all my favorite designers, along side beautiful vintage. This shop was Koh Samui. Ever since I visited this boutique, I knew I wanted to open my own shop. The trip to the shop was so inspiring. I bought a green lace Marc Jacobs dress with a black velvet bow that I still wear. Sadly, a few years ago Koh Samui boutique closed. However, I knew it would not be gone for long. Koh Samui's creative directors Talita Zoe and Paul Sexton recently relaunched their business and are currently creative consultants for designers and stores. In case you were wondering, they named their boutique after their favorite vacation spot. They also run a beautiful website, here. I contacted them about doing some consulting for Audrey Grace. I was so thrilled that they agreed. Ironically, their vintage business is named My Beautiful Vintage, and I remember visiting some vintage markets in London last summer and their stall was my absolute favorite! So ironic. Talita and Paul are sourcing beautiful vintage pieces for Audrey Grace. I am so thrilled to be working with them and excited to see the pieces they source! I have seen one dress so far, and it is stunning. Some photos of Koh Samui and my interview with the lovely Talita follows below.

Interiors of Koh Samui Boutique, London (above and below)
Interiors of Talita and Paul's home

Hi Talita! Tell me a little bit about yourself. Your shop, Koh Samui in London was my absolute favorite boutique in the world. What are you doing now? Is your company now an extension of the boutique? 
Paul and I opened Koh Samui in Covent Garden and Knightsbridge in London when there really weren’t stores that stocked both established designers like Balenciaga together with young unknown designers. We both always loved beautiful objects and having your own fashion store gives you total freedom of expression to create something special.                                                                                                                      
We had no formal training, so no pre conceived ideas of how things should be, it’s always been very visual. We only ever stocked what we loved and our tastes are the same so it worked extremely well. We always had fun meeting the designers and visiting their studios.
We were the first boutique to mix designers together; the unknown with the established, at first some designers didn’t like the idea of this, but when they saw the way we were able to create such a beautiful store, they soon changed their minds. All the stores would keep the designer collections separate so each had its own rail. We always found this boring, which is why we would merchandise by colour and not designer, this way keeping it interesting and special for the customer.
We are consulting as buyers for small boutiques to international department stores. We are also creative directors for designer brands. 
Having worked with some of the most influential global fashion companies, we have a feel for what styles, shapes and colours sell.
We also have two websites, and as we specialize in the UK and US. Our websites are about Fashion, Vintage, Lifestyle and Interiors. Outside the UK most of our customers are from the US, we have spent a lot of time in the US sourcing Designers and Vintage. 
We would love to design our own Koh Samui womenswear collection, which is something we have always wanted to do.
Your displays and designers you had in store will always so original and wonderful. How did you source all the stock and ideas?
We went to the student fashion shows and had creative staff with friends who were designers and artist. We would see their collections and if we felt they were right for the store then would showcase them. We travelled far and wide to places that other buyers wouldn’t even think of travelling to find designers. These designers we could have exclusive collaborations with, as we have always strived to be different. This was reflected in all our displays, they had to be eye catching, quirky, wearable and amazingly beautiful.
Who was your favorite celebrity client? 
Koh Samui's celebrity customers include Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Katie Holmes, Scarlett Johansson, Beyonce, Liv Tyler, Vanessa Paradis, Keira Knightley, Kylie Minogue, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson and Uma Thurman.  On one occasion, Goldie Hawn came into our store, she tried on this beautiful fitted dress and looked wonderful of course. When it was time for her to change, the zip got stuck so I had to try and help free her. It was all very funny and she was laughing and joking, we ended up cutting her out of it.  

What are your favorite places to shop and eat in London? Do you have any favorite places for inspiration?
For shopping I love to go to Kempton Park outdoor market where you can pick up vintage jewellery, furniture, vintage household goods, old iron gates, just about anything you can think of.
One of my favourite places to eat in London is Les Trios Garcons in East London; we took our Koh Samui staff there for one of our Christmas Party’s when it first opened. The restaurant is French, that looks quite Victorian from the outside and has an amazingly 1930s decadent interior and is just a fabulous place to go for a special evening out.
Inspiration:  Nature and Architecture 
Who are your favorite designers and artists? 
One of my favourite designers has to be Balenciaga, we were the first store in London to stock the collection by Nicolas Ghesquiere. I love the way he uses modern fabrics and yet always seems to take the classic Balenciaga shape, which never dates but just look so sophisticated.  We would buy the collection in Paris and always ended up having the last appointment of the day.  The champagne would come out while the collection was being modelled for us as we were very good friends with the sales director, it was always a great appointment. Fashion should be fun!
Artists:  Edward Hopper, Gustav Klimt. Photographer Robert Capa.
What films are you inspired by?
All About Eve, Amelie, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The Godfather, It’s A Wonderful Life, House of Flying Daggers. The L Shaped Room.  
If you could style any celebrity who would it be and why? 
Florence Welch, I like the way she is happy to experiment with clothes and try new young designers. 
What are you looking forward to about this holiday season?
Christmas morning I go for an early morning walk over Hampstead Heath, I collect fern, holly and ivy for the table decorations and the wreath for the door. I always dress the table for dinner, so lots of candles, glitter, and greenery. It’s my favourite time of year, I love all the preparation and decorating, going to parties, and having friends over. I enjoy baking when I get the time and for Christmas I like to give close friends and family something I have made myself.
What is on your holiday wish list? 
I don’t have a wish list and my family and friends know that I like beautiful old things so they tend to rummage round the flea markets or vintage shops and will end up buying me something weird and wonderful...I don’t mind what I get.
Tell me about the work you are doing for Audrey Grace
Paul and I are sourcing amazing vintage for Audrey Grace, we are looking for beautiful dresses that are feminine and sexy from the 1920’s, 30’s, 50’s and 60’s. Having seen the Audrey Grace Website it's was clear to us that Jaclyn has very similar taste to us, it’s beautiful and very creative.
What do you think will be special about Audrey Grace Boutique
I think the Audrey Grace Boutique will be special because the feeling you get from the website is elegant, beautiful, ethereal, fresh, new and feminine. I love the way the pages are styled and the creative people you have interviewed. You have a strong vision of what you like and want, which is important when you have a boutique you need to have a strong identity.  
Talita in the shop
Thank you so much Talita! 


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