October 21st, 2014 / posted by paularath
A Louda Larrain creation.

A Louda Larrain creation.

Hawaii attracts more than our fair share of creative people. Sometimes they come here for vacation and never leave. Sometimes they dream of making a change to a life in Paradise – and one day they simply move. Sometimes they burn out on the biggies: New York, Paris, London or Milan.

Whatever the reason, we welcome them and, hopefully, nurture their creative energy by simply allowing them to be themselves.

Such is the case with a newcomer to Kaua’i, textile artist Louda Larrain. 

Louda’s story is quite amazing, a veritable fashion fairy tale. She was born and raised in Siberia, in Communist Russia. She studied at Moscow’s Fine Arts School and Textile Academy, then  taught fashion and textile design in Moscow and developed, in her words, “a personal way to make textiles.”

In 1996, at the age of 35, a single mother with a six-year-old in tow, she struck out for Paris.

It was a struggle at first. “I tried to survive in Paris by babysitting and still trying to do my textiles,” she said.

A Louda Larrain jacket.

A Louda Larrain jacket.

One day, as she wandered through a Parisian art fair, “I was dragged out of the crowd by a man who turned out to be Francois LeSage,” of the famous couture LeSage embroidery house which was purchased by Chanel a few years ago. LeSage asked her to provide him with some textile swatches, which he then showed to none other than Karl Lagerfeld.

Lagerfeld fell in love with Louda’s work and hired her for Chanel. “Overnight, I went from baby sitting to Chanel haute couture,” Louda said with a chuckle.

For ten years, Louda created her unique layered textiles for haute couture houses such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler, Christian Lacroix and Emmanuel Ungaro and saw them worn on runways by super models such as Naomi Campbell and Stella Tennent.

In 2006, Louda made a move to New York City, where her garments were sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. She and her famous photographer husband, Gilles Larrain, became a vibrant couple in the NYC art scene, holding monthly Art Salons in Giles’ studio.

Louda has made inroads into other international art scenes with shows in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo, as well as The Netherlands.

Now she’s living a quiet life on Kaua’i with GillesEver the innovator, Louda’s most recent fashion show featured “Foliage Couture,” flora and materials gathered in the rain forests of Kaua’i.

Louda said she’s ready to segue into the fashion scene on Oahu and share her expertise during Hawaii Fashion Month.

Watch the HFM calendar for a design-related workshop by Louda Larrain. There’s a lot we can learn from this fabulous fashion princess.

– Paula Rath

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