we chat to two supermodels

Launched in New York in 2002, Gail Elliot and Joe Coffey’s bou­tique fash­ion label Lit­tle Joe Woman has come a long way. One move to Syd­ney, six retail stores in Aus­tralia, one online store, and a suc­cess­ful run­way debut at Rose­mount Fash­ion Week later, and you could say that Lit­tle Joe Woman’s star is shin­ing more brightly than ever.

And speak­ing of stars, Gail Elliot is a star in her own right. A super­model of the 90s who walked for design greats such as Karl Lager­field, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, Elliot was in the same league as super­star mod­els like Yas­min LeBon, who she remains close friends with today.

FJ was able to have a chat with both Gail and Yas­min when they were both in Syd­ney ear­lier this month.

FJ: Gail, you’ve been design­ing for 10 years now. How have your design influ­ences changed dur­ing your career? What were your design influ­ences for your cur­rent collection?  

GE: Lit­tle Joe Woman will cel­e­brate 10 years in busi­ness this year. We started with just silk six slips and six silk camisoles in six dif­fer­ent colours – try repeat­ing that quickly! Over time the col­lec­tions have evolved and con­sist of at least 80 pieces. We always include our sig­na­ture silk slip dresses and camisoles but we now also design cash­mere knitwear, pants, jack­ets and use leather shear­ling and suede. What I also love is that we design our own prints in-house which is one of my favourite parts of the design process. So much influ­ences me but I guess it’s my life that gives me the most inspi­ra­tion – travel, books, movies, restau­rants and the outdoors.…there’s always some­thing that catches my atten­tion and finds it’s way into a collection.

FJ: What is your pick from the cur­rent Lit­tle Joe Woman col­lec­tion and how would you style it?

GE: From our cur­rent col­lec­tion Dreamweaver, my favourite piece is a Chan­tilly lace and silk chif­fon dress called the Lace Magic. It’s del­i­cate and girly but I wear it with Jimmy Choo booties and a leather cuff bracelet to give it a lit­tle edge.

FJ: What are the trends that you think are the must haves for this sea­son. What should fash­ion­able Aus­tralian girls be wearing?

GE: Lit­tle Joe Woman isn’t a trend dri­ven brand but  every fash­ion­able Aus­tralian girl should have a but­ter soft light­weight leather jacket in her wardrobe and our Snake Eyes jacket is the per­fect fit.

FJ: You’re known for your time­less, ele­gant pieces. What do you con­sider your wardrobe essentials?

My wardrobe essen­tials are a well tai­lored blazer in black, in white and in flesh – silk chif­fon, printed, flow­ing maxi dresses, jeans, white, grey and black loose fit v-neck tees, a leather jacket, bal­let flats, booties, heels and bags. It’s a sim­ple wardrobe but it works for me.

FJ: You were both super­mod­els in the 80s. How was that expe­ri­ence? What were your favourite shoots?
YLB: It was a really busy time. There was so much work and travel, which was great, we were young and needed to be kept occu­pied. I then popped out my first daugh­ter and things got even more hec­tic. I always loved work­ing with Arthur Elgort, he is so charis­matic, and I loved work­ing with Peter Lind­berg, even if he could drive me to dis­trac­tion with really long days. The results were always amazing.

FJ: When did the both of you first cross paths?

YLB: Milan. Gail was doing the shows, and I met her in the hotel lobby.

FJ: Do you have any funny sto­ries about mod­el­ling jobs?

YLB: I remem­ber one great shoot. I was shoot­ing a shoe advert for Clarks. They wanted dare­devil shots with dif­fer­ent mod­els, but of course they hadn’t actu­ally told me this. I got lost on the motor­way to the shoot, so arrived really late, not real­is­ing that there was a time limit due to water lev­els. I got the suit on and the shoes, and was then plonked on the wing of a sea plane. The stu­pid thing was they had gone to the trou­ble of get­ting a stunt guy there, who promptly told me that the sea plane was going to drive at just below take off speed, but because of my out­fit and the shoot angle I couldn’t wear any har­ness! “So, you’re on your own dar­ling!”.  Because I had to lean back with the shoes at the best angle I spent the whole shoot hold­ing on to wing of the plane with one butt cheek. I’m not sure health and safety would let you do things like that now. Insur­ance wasn’t even mentioned!

FJ: You’re both very close and Jas­min was a brides­maid at Gail’s wed­ding. Are close friend­ships between mod­els com­mon? Or is the per­cep­tion that the mod­el­ling indus­try is an unfriendly one true?

YLB: I really can’t speak for the whole indus­try, but we were a close group of girls, we helped and looked after each other. It’s a dif­fi­cult job to do with­out good friends, and I see mod­els of every gen­er­a­tion form­ing great friend­ships. It is such a rar­efied busi­ness, some­thing you can’t talk about to any­one else but a model. Mind you I think Gail and I would have hit it off even if one of us wasn’t a model. We are just happy in each oth­ers company.

FJ: What advice would you have for any mod­els or aspir­ing mod­els nowadays?

YLB: Keep on top of your finances, learn to decifer model state­ments, and always remem­ber to have fun and smile. Nobody wants a grouch about, and nobody put a gun to your head to be a model.

 FJ: Who are your favourite mod­els of the moment?

YLB: I love Freya, Liya Kebede, Kar­lie Kloss, Lak­shmi Menon and Aline Weber. Actu­ally there are so many, I’m a total model groupie.

FJ:  You’ve been friends for 25 years– what have been some of the high­lights of your friendship? 

I don’t think real friend­ships have “high­lights”. Some of the best moments are the sim­plest or usu­ally dumb­est. We do laugh a lot together, but we have total trust in each other. Being able to con­fide whole­heart­edly in your best friend is one of the best gifts of humanity.

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