I had a serendipitous meeting with Una Malan while we were standing together in the Montecito, California sunshine next to some old avocado trees. We both happened to be waiting for the trolley to return us from our press tour of the Santa Barbara Design House. The trolley seemed to take forever (which worked out perfectly because I had the pleasure of meeting Una!)
Una is strikingly beautiful, stylish and living a splendid life. She recently launched a beautiful new clothing brand that I can’t wait to get my hands on. I hope you enjoy learning more about this “girl to know.”
Okay, you were born and raised in England but you seem completely at home in California. Tell me your story. What brought you to the States?
It’s such a cliché, but it really was the sunshine! I adore London and it’s such an inspirational city (especially for fashion), but I love the outdoors – horse riding, hiking with my dog, playing tennis – and the lifestyle just suits me so well here.
You have a background in Interior Design. How did fashion design find you?
I have always been passionate (obsessed really) with beautiful fabrics and would often create a whole interior around something that I was dying to use. I love to play with billowing pieces of sinuous silk to see how it falls and flows, so it seemed perfectly natural for me to want to be dressed in them too.
How would you describe your personal style?
I love simplicity and elegance mixed with interesting accessories that bring in the character of your current mood. I am also intensely focused on being comfortable – I can’t bear to feel constricted (I think that applies generally to my view of life) – so all of my designs offer the balance of sophisticated comfort.
A smidge obsessed with your Vireo Silk Dress. Tell me the inspiration for the design.
Thank you! All of my designs come from a starting point of versatility, so you truly can take them anywhere in the world. Often I start by draping fabric and then starting to sketch. Some go directly from my mind onto paper, and some morph during the process into several variations until I feel I have the right balance. But my inspiration comes from everywhere – nature, jewelry, music, dance… I’m a Scorpio, so I feel everything passionately and I think that translates into wanting to design pieces that make women look and feel beautiful, but most importantly, she won’t be restricted from living and embracing her life.
1 essential item to pack for a sun vacation?
Lancaster Sun Deepener. There is no other product on the market like it – it smells heavenly and lasts forever.
Where should we stay in London?
When I’m visiting, I love staying at Claridge’s. It’s in the heart of Mayfair, so everything is easily accessible – world class shopping, restaurants, theatre, galleries, walks in Hyde Park. The old world charm, history and great service really appeal to me.
My absolute favorite weekend getaway is the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito. I’m madly in love with the cottages and the fresh, local food prepared perfectly in the restaurants.