Karen Elson’s Got a New Lover
“She was at the top of our list, but it was an ‘in your dreams’ kind of thing,” recalled Nic Briand, one half of the design duo, along with partner Susien Chong, behind Australian label Lover. He’s talking about Karen Elson, the star of the decade-old brand’s first-ever campaign, which, debuting exclusively here, features the fiery-haired English beauty in Lover’s romantic coated-lace and silk Fall ’13 collection. “Karen has always been one of our all-time fantasy muses. She’s up there with people like Charlotte Rampling and Jane Birkin,” said Briand. “We met her briefly, at a friend’s wedding, and in and of itself that encounter would have been enough. When she said she was a fan of the clothes and that she wanted to do the campaign, we were blown away.”
The images, lensed by Lina Scheynius and styled by Leith Clark, show Elson lounging in soft, natural light. It’s an organic compilation that feels just stripped-down and confidently fragile enough for Chong and Briand’s delicate designs. Baby blue, slightly ruffling minidresses with sheer lace detailing have an almost Victorian feeling, while high-neck lace cocktail dresses were inspired by musicians such as Courtney Love and Patti Smith. “There’s this vulnerability about them, but their stage presence is so in-your-face. We love that duality to come through in the clothes,” said Briand.
Elson’s involvement in the campaign is a testament to the brand’s resonance, which has grown among women such as Kirsten Dunst and Keira Knightley since Chong and Briand first set up shop in Bondi Markets. “Lover is still very small, and it’s on the other side of the world, but the clothes mean something to people,” expressed Briand.
If Lover’s future is at all reflective of its evolution thus far—a slow but steady burn from beachfront market stall to the Net-a-Porter-carried, cultishly followed brand that it is today—the years to come seem bright. “[When we founded Lover], we didn’t have a five-year plan. We never sat down and mapped out our goals for the future,” said Briand. What they did have, and continue to focus on, was a commitment to quality of design and a level of global consciousness. “We’ve always said, ‘Even though we’re in Australia, this brand has to act like an international brand,’” explained Briand. “It needs to compete on an international level. The quality has to be on that level, and the intelligence has to be on that level. We all live in the same world.”