Liv Tyler never saw herself as a designer. But a life spent hustling between fittings, red carpet events, and cover shoots made the transition natural. Liv’s intimate, varied knowledge of the fashion world is only surpassed by a sense of faute de mieux: like the multitudes of women who wonder “where have all the pockets gone?”, she knows what’s missing from her wardrobe. She knows what fits, and what she wants.
“I decided to make the things I needed in my closet. Tall boots, military coats, leather.”
Seated amidst the noise of her collection’s launch party, it’s immediately obvious that the clothes are truly a reflection of their maker. In fact, it was Liv’s dual spirit of independence and charm that brought her together with powerhouse label BELSTAFF to introduce the fashion house’s first-ever collaborative capsule collection.
The 12-piece line was artfully arranged on mannequins for the event, yet the space was casual; Liv’s a casual person. With her bubbly tone and laughing pauses, it’s like she’s the one giving the interview: an unhurried poise and cheerful intimacy draws the listener right in. Her collection is much the same, commanding the room by quiet invitation and natural gravity. Nothing too loud, but every piece is a statement staple: you can’t look away.
“BELSTAFF is about that, it’s about independence, free spirit, adventure. I was able to openly brainstorm with their team. We shared a language.” Liv insists, effervescent despite going hours without a break. “My favorite thing about the brand is their outerwear. There’s strength in throwing on an amazing piece of outerwear.” Creating that strength, she mentions, means not compromising style for functionality.
Shearling-lined coats sit beside sumptuous blouses with dainty bows, which somehow don’t seem incongruous in a lineup of military jackets, studded bags, lace up riding boots, and leather, leather, leather. Everything is feminine, with a rakish edge– and much of it weatherproof, though you wouldn’t know by looking. The clothes speak to chilly nights catching the last train home, stealing goodnight kisses under a streetlamp. There’s fervor, dash, and the same quirkiness that Liv herself embodies when she makes the suggestion that we sneak out of her own party – just for a quick breather – before slipping right back in. Clandestine adventure. The fabric and stitching are all trademarks of BELSTAFF’s durability, but the genre is recast into Liv’s mould of Hollywood glamour and old school grace. She’s reinvented the classics, by blurring the divides.
“My favorite thing is to throw a men’s jacket on over a beautiful dress. Leather or suede, motorcycle or military.” The centerpiece of her collection, the Neel Coat with its precious collar and heady brass buttons, its four durable pockets and water-resistant wool, would be a dream over a tulle gown. Likewise, the biker cut lambskin Lexie Lt Blouson jacket with braided detailing could transition a spring dress into autumn heroically enough.
This attention to detail is what impressed BELSTAFF, cinching Liv the role of égérie. She evolved into their brand ambassador while on set for BELSTAFF’s fashion film, Falling Up, alongside “good friend” David Beckham and Harvey Keitel. Liv embodied the brand in her portrayal of aviatrix Amelia Earheart; herself a BELSTAFF die-hard; and the symbiosis inspired magic. “They kept asking my opinion on fashion tidbits during filming, and I was giving so much creative input that I became an executive producer of the film. I didn’t know, at the time, that they were looking for the next face of BELSTAFF, someone who could nurture the female side of the brand. It became me.”
The timing was a no-brainer. Ever since BELSTAFF’s 2012 relaunch, the brand’s been dishing enviable women’s lines, lighting up London Fashion Week with lush fabrics and bold detailing. It’s the kind of intrepid wardrobe that womenswear has been yearning for. Long-lasting and durable, but alluring. The change can surely be attributed in part to the guiding influence of BELSTAFF vice president of design, Delphine Nonous, who partnered with Liv to bring her vision and the brand seamlessly together.
Liv was delighted to breathe new creativity into masculine-chic.
“I’ve always been a very feminine looking person. Even with no makeup on, I exude femininity, so I always enjoy being able to throw on something a little more masculine, boyish… being a New Yorker can support that.” New York winters can be unkind, which means Liv’s New York style has always favored punky edges and daring mix-and-matches, a throwback to the 1970s when streamlined, unisex looks were hitting the city. Her line recalls a Geoffrey Beene-like modernity and edge, with a touch of British elegance. It’s the irreverence of Studio 54 meets maverick off-roading on a Norton Manx. Some things (like an adventure, or a good cut) are just timeless. “BELSTAFF wanted me to honor what it is they’re so good at.”
She speaks of that collaborative process with glee, of moodboards studded with classic photos: a sepia print of Amy Johnson in a single-pilot plane, World War II nurses and WASP veterans, 50s rocker chicks and red-lipped rebels.
Not sacrificing spunk and spontaneity for her idea of womanhood was important to Liv. This includes motherhood.
“The work was fun, creative, and I could still do it at home and hold the baby.” Sailor, her youngest son, was a year old while she designed the collection. In July, she welcomed her third child, Lula Rose with fiancé Dave Gardener. She’s “very grateful” to have another child, and says that fashion was the perfect creative outlet to pair with pregnancy.
“It became the dream job, to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do and love doing. I was so excited to have the opportunity. My favorite part, other than getting to work from home so often, was adding all those personal touches of embellishment. Beautiful, feminine touches.” Her affect is in tapered cuts and precise piping on each piece. “I’ve always been very observant. I paid attention while working with good tailors, how they create something just for your body… and I learned from designers, as a model and an actor. I didn’t know I had so much knowledge. But it was a very organic process.”
As for balancing multiple careers with full-time parenting? “I’m really just enjoying the whole adventure!” She laughs, enthusiastic.
As our chat wore down, after we’d snapped a selfie and talked New Yorkisms, she confessed, “You know, it’s very common now for a famous face to be behind things like this, these days. But I realized this is what I end up doing in my day-to-day anyway. Fashion and design, fittings and final touches. It’s so fun for me… I love getting to create, the new opportunities and challenges, things I didn’t know I’d be good at.”
Liv has nothing to worry about. Her clothes, like her, are chic, down-to-earth, and effortlessly cool.