Chaos the­ory

Char­lotte Stock­dale and Katie Lyall’s very-2018 ac­ces­sories have ar­rived in Aus­tralia, and they’re the per­fect mix of hu­mour and se­ri­ous style nous. By Alice Bir­rell.

VOGUE Australia - - VIEWPOINT -

Katie Lyall is ex­cited about the new­est piece she’s cre­ated with Char­lotte Stock­dale for their ac­ces­sories la­bel Chaos, if only she could find it. “Mine’s ac­tu­ally been stolen by Ken­dall Jen­ner, but Char­lotte still man­aged to keep hers,” Lyall says over the phone from a balmy Lon­don sum­mer evening. They’re talk­ing about a gold-plated charm in the shape of a just-opened bot­tle cap that dan­gles el­e­gantly from a zip chain that could be at­tached to keys or a phone. “It has saved our lives more times than it’s prob­a­bly sen­si­ble to share,” says Lyall. “It’s to open up sparkling wa­ter,” in­ter­cedes Stock­dale. You can prac­ti­cally hear the wink down the phone.

It’s this brand of ir­rev­er­ence that has marked their shared styling ca­reer, shared be­cause, upon meet­ing in 1999, while Stock­dale worked at Bri­tish Vogue, they stuck side by side, work­ing at Garage mag­a­zine and be­com­ing Chaos Fash­ion, a creative con­sul­tancy. “I don’t know any styling duos,” con­sid­ers Lyall. “It’s de­signer duos or pho­tog­ra­phy duos, but no-one’s re­ally de­cided to do it. There were some peo­ple who were a bit con­fused by it, but it didn’t re­ally mat­ter.”

That could be be­cause their vis­ual sig­na­ture is so iden­ti­fi­able: pops of colour, mixed tex­tures and fab­rics with clever styling tweaks that seep into a sub­con­scious then meta­mor­phose sud­denly into a need-it-now de­sire that has graced the pages of Vogue, i-D and their own mag­a­zine, Chaos 69. “You have a cot­ton shirt, and then you have a fash­ion skirt. It will be nice with a matt ny­lon trainer or matt croc­o­dile boots,” Stock­dale ex­plains be­fore sur­mis­ing, “some­thing shiny goes with some­thing matt.”

Their Chaos la­bel, com­ing to Aus­tralia for the first time when they land at David Jones this month, is a dis­til­la­tion of their vis­ual hand­writ­ing. Phone cases in crayon brights were their start­ing point. “We were work­ing a lot, and we didn’t want to put our phones down when we were do­ing fit­tings, styling clothes, what­ever, and we would lose them,” re­counts Stock­dale. “We ended up ty­ing rib­bon to our Black­ber­rys at the time, and hang­ing them around our neck.” An early pro­to­type was a zip­per. “It was cheap and hokey, but kind of fun.” Re­quests from fam­ily and friends fol­lowed, which gave them the con­fi­dence to launch with a func­tional de­sir­able prod­uct.

De­sign – jumbo cher­ries, let­ters and eight-balls in lush che­nille em­broi­dery that Lyall de­scribes “de­li­cious” – is bal­anced with func­tion­al­ity, hence the hand straps on the back of ‘hug’ cases, the sup­ple deer­skin per­fected to wrap the cor­ners and pro­tect the phone. “They want to be able to hang their phone around their neck,” says Stock­dale of cus­tomers. “They want to be able to find it in their bag, be­cause they can see the zip, or catch their phone when they drop it.”

Likely you’ve no­ticed them al­ready on In­sta­gram. A lucky by-prod­uct of cre­at­ing per­son­alised phone cases, the cam­paigns ba­si­cally shoot them­selves, star­ring the self­ies of the Ha­did sis­ters, Marc Ja­cobs, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham, Edie Camp­bell, Ad­woa Aboah and Karl Lager­feld. They’ve worked with Lager­feld, a long-time col­lab­o­ra­tor and men­tor, along­side Sil­via Ven­turini Fendi, con­sult­ing for 10 years at Fendi, and both have in­formed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for tech­ni­cal knowl­edge and lux­u­ri­ous fin­ishes – the zips are now sil­ver- or gold-plated.

“When you work with peo­ple like Sil­via and Karl, you have to re­ally not be lis­ten­ing to not come away with quite a lot of knowl­edge,” Stock­dale says. “They haven’t grown scared. They are will­ing to fail, which is the big­gest thing; they’re fear­less.”

Work­ing as a duo has been an­other pro­pel­lant. “In times when you’re doubt­ing what you are do­ing, the other per­son says: ‘No, don’t worry, it’s all on the right track,’” says Stock­dale. “It’s like be­ing on an air­plane and there’s tur­bu­lence and you’re scared, but if there’s some­one who is more scared than you, some­how that makes you less scared.” Lyall adds: “It al­lows you to have more free­dom and con­trol at the same time.”

They’ve added charms, lan­yards, lug­gage tags and the oc­ca­sional piece of ready-to-wear while they fo­cus more and more on per­son­al­i­sa­tion, a trend they’re pre­dict­ing will get ever stronger. “Why would you not, if you can have some­thing, just for you?” says Lyall. Per­haps a mono­gram on that bot­tle opener then, in case an­other Jen­ner should chance upon it.

Chaos founders Katie Lyall (left) and Char­lotte Stock­dale.

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