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Porter
The Fashion Memo

How 4 fashion insiders are staying creative while staying home

Seeking new ways to keep your spirits up when life as we know it is on hold? From food and fashion to fabulous lipstick, these designers and style mavericks have the right idea, as GILLIAN BRETT discovers…

Fashion

Fashion designer Rejina Pyo on… the joy of Korean home-cooking

The Korean-born, London-based fashion designer has “always turned to food in times of happiness or sadness”. In fact, when Pyo launched her critically acclaimed first collection in 2014, she simultaneously wrote a cookbook alongside her Irish chef and food-writer husband Jordan Bourke called Our Korean Kitchen. The book, which was published in 2015, is filled with recipes that are as carefully considered as her celebrated designs.

Her go-to? “Bibimbap, which means mixed rice. It has everything: a bed of sticky short-grain rice topped with an array of lightly cooked marinated vegetables, beef – or tofu if you’re vegetarian – and a fried egg mixed together with gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste made from soy beans.”

L-R: bibimbap, kimchi pancakes

She describes her husband as a “purist” in the kitchen, and herself as having more of a “mad scientist” approach, and says it’s the ritual of bringing people together for mealtimes that she truly values. “It is such a stressful time for everyone, so it’s really nice to sit down together and share a meal.” At present, she and Bourke are in Dublin, staying with her in-laws and their three-year-old son Luka. As such, cultivating a home office requires some creativity: “My work station could be anywhere – the kitchen table, my son’s bed, the garden – so I just have to make it work,” she says, adding, “Often, I end up working late into the night. It’s not ideal, but so many people are far worse off, and you have to be grateful for what you have and get on with it.”

Pyo is also doing a 14-day yoga challenge to help her unwind and find some mental clarity: “It is one of the only times my brain switches off, as I have to focus entirely on what I’m doing; to me it’s like a form of meditation.”

Rejina Pyo has been sustained by the ritual of bringing people together at mealtimes
“It is such a stressful time for everyone, so it’s really nice to sit down together and share a meal”
Ditte Reffstrup and her Ganni team have been sharing their WFH ensembles via Google Hangout – in fact it’s become something of a game for them all, she says

Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni’s creative director, on… the joy of dressing up

“For the first couple of days I was just wearing my pajamas and noticed that every day felt like a Sunday, so I had the Sunday blues all the time,” explains Reffstrup, the Danish designer behind cult Copenhagen-based brand Ganni, of her working-from-home uniform. “So I started to dress up a little more, because I felt like that kept me on my toes… It puts me in a better mood, too, and I feel more inspired. It’s a bit of self-care.”

Without a daily cycling commute that demands practical sneakers, she’s experimenting with open-toed sandals, slip-on Mary Janes and backless loafers. Reffstrup and her husband Nicolaj, the brand’s founder, have also agreed to dress up for dinner: “That way, you can wear some of the dresses you’ve already bought for the season,” she says.

“It’s a simple thing that sounds a bit shallow, because in a crisis like this it feels like clothes are the last thing you want to think about, but I do think dressing up can change your mood, even just a tiny bit.”

To keep her team’s spirits high, she hosts daily Google Hangout meetings, where they’ll each share their WFH ensembles – “It’s become a game now, where people are dressing up for meetings and wearing things like a really bright-red lipstick that you might never see them wear at the office, because dressing up for yourself is a nice thing” – a practice that inspired a #GanniWFH hashtag that their legions of fans have embraced as well. On Fridays, they have a virtual bar where they drink wine, and work chat is off the agenda.

As for her plans once social distancing is lifted, “I’m going to do a big dinner party for friends, family and the Ganni team. I want to go to the Apollo Bar [in Copenhagen], I want to have a facial, I just want to hug my friends and go dancing.”

“In a crisis like this it feels like clothes are the last thing you want to think about, but I do think dressing up can change your mood, even just a tiny bit”

Fashion designer Molly Goddard on… the joy of music

Goddard’s rainbow-hued, frothy tulle gowns are like a shot of sartorial serotonin in themselves, but to try to lift the mood while socially distancing and working from home, the British designer has been making upbeat playlists, too. Here, she’s created one especially for PORTER readers, which she describes as being like a musical edit of her day: “The first songs are coffee hour and the last couple are cocktail hour.”

From the very beginning, music has played a significant role in her design process. “Dancing and fashion have always been totally intertwined for me and are equally important. I used to get home from school on a Friday night and make a dress, just so I had something brand new that no one else would have to go out dancing in. I always think about how something will move when designing.”

She loves discovering new indie bands and listening to classic ’90s R&B that she can sing along to, “like Usher and TLC”. But her ultimate mood-lifting go-to is Jamaican DJ Popcaan’s 2014 album Where We Come From.

Splitting her time between a makeshift office-cum-atelier in her dining room, which she shares with her boyfriend Tom, and her sunny balcony, where she can attend to long emails, write or sketch, she continues to dress up as though she’s heading into the office: “It feels good to wear something special, even if no one sees it.”

Listen to Molly Goddard’s PORTER playlist*

Molly Goddard has held on to the joy of getting all dressed up – even if, for the time being at least, she has nowhere to go
“It feels good to wear something special, even if no one sees it”
Margherita Cardelli has rediscovered the “pure love of simple things”, such as making pasta with her husband and daughter, and letter-writing

Margherita Cardelli, co-founder of Giuliva Heritage Collection, on… the joy of homemade pasta

Recalling the fun she had watching her grandmothers making pasta as a little girl inspired Cardelli to recreate this joyous atmosphere at home with her one-year-old daughter Aida Atena, and husband Gerardo Cavaliere, with whom she co-founded Giuliva Heritage Collection. Gnocchi has fast become her speciality dish. Having recently moved into a new home, the couple are celebrating their new space by putting an extra effort into cooking more formal meals.

Currently in Rome, where they and their team are all smart-working from home, the couple also spend a lot of time reading, researching and working peacefully on their new collection. As the duo behind one of Italy’s sleekest tailoring brands, getting dressed up is an important part of their daily routine. “We dress up every day. We dress our daughter up, too. It’s a way to stand up for our values, which are definitely not going to be put aside because of the virus,” says Cardelli. “Rather, they are felt even more strongly.”

Cardelli’s homemade gnocchi

They keep in touch with colleagues and friends with video calls, but also through old-fashioned letter-writing, which further shines a light on their appreciation for traditional principles. It is, says Cardelli, “the pure love of simple things” that has been bringing her joy in these challenging times.

“We dress up every day. We dress our daughter up, too. It’s a way to stand up for our values, which are definitely not going to be put aside because of the virus”

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