we are LEONE // TPP visits designer duo Ruby & Tallulah Rufus Isaacs at their beautiful Venice home
It’s a bright and sunny Thursday morning in February, as we follow Amalfi Road all the way down to Pacific Coast Highway, the ocean sparkling to our right, leading us directly to the Venice home of our favorite designer duo, Ruby and Tallulah Rufus Isaacs. Upon entering their cali-chic home, through the lush lemon garden, it is a full-on family affair. They introduce us to their beautiful sister Augusta, we are LEONE intern (she also helps Ruby and Tallulah with their sketches) and model, as well as their brother Leone, after whom their company is named. Their dogs Willy-Wonka, Lupo (Italian for wolf) and Orso (Italian for bear) inspect us dubiously, wondering how long we’ll stay. The girls (and Leone) tell us how excited they are to be united, especially because their eldest sister, Eva, is currently in town visiting. This will mark the first time in years that the five siblings are reunited; the excitement in the space is tangible.
It seems like just yesterday that we saw the sisters swoosh around London in their long, silk maxi cardigans, elevating Lennox Gardens street style to another level. The now LA based brand was born when Ruby and Tallulah were still living and working in Europe. “We have that kind of LA easy style because we live mostly in jeans and t-shirts” Ruby explains. “We only go to vintage stores or buy one off things. Other than that we only wear our own pieces” Tallulah adds on. Having spent a lot of time living in south of France and Italy, Ruby and Tallulah both know that all you need is that one extra piece to make things more elegant and cool. “I moved to LA with just a suitcase of my favorite pieces and I gave the rest to charity” Ruby tells us. The duo is all about having a curated wardrobe consisting solely of pieces you really love.
What makes these two women so special, beyond their sweet nature and effortless style, is that their career is not as linear and predictable as some may think. Tallulah did a year studying fashion marketing and the business side of things before running her own boutique in Paris. Ruby has a background in PR and marketing and first fell into designing in London, where she worked for a London based brand without ever having gone to college. With ten years of experience and work in the fashion industry to their names, summer of 2014 marks the moment their brand we are LEONE was born.
What was initially intended to be a one-off addition to Ruby and Tallulah’s personal wardrobe, has since become the newest staple in womens fashion.
On their quest to find the perfect travel piece, something that would easily fit into a carry-on for weekend getaways and elevate any outfit to pure perfection, their iconic maxi cardigan was born. “We were constantly looking in stores, asking each other ‘did you find it?’ After a while we just started creating these long silk robes for ourselves and people started freaking out,” Ruby tells us.
When they posted a picture of themselves wearing the pieces on Instagram the sisters were surprised by the amount of people that reached out to them. What makes the maxi cardigan so universal is that they “think about women all over the world when designing” Tallulah explains. Almost immediately they found themselves selling to friends and accepting orders through Instagram. “That was pretty much the first step. We made them in a bunch of different prints, did an Instagram and here we are five years later.”
Since then, their silk cover-ups have travelled all corners of the world and graced the shoulders of Miranda Kerr, Kate Hudson and Poppy Delevingne to name a few. When the sisters started focusing on we are LEONE full time they were well aware that they would need to do at least three years of the most gruelling, crazy work before things would come to fruition. Tallulah explains that “running your own business is a lot more work than anyone expects it to be. It requires a tremendous amount of patience and perseverance.” In the starting months, they often said no to coffees or lunches with friends in order to keep up with the daily back-office logistics of their company.
“Not only are we designers, we deal with our accounting, marketing, production and so much more,” Ruby explains. Tallulah adds on: “everyone always says you work to live but we really live to work.”
In recent years social media has completely altered the way in which fashion is consumed. The uncomplicated and very personal costumer communication has, in a way, made fashion more accessible for a lot of women. To this day, eighty percent of their sales happen on Instagram. “I can look through a customer’s pictures and advise them what size or what style would suit them,” Tallulah tells us. In addition to their Instagram and online store, we are LEONE is available for purchase in a very exclusive selection of online stores and boutiques – Barney’s, Selfridges and Net-A-Porter to name a few. “I think our brand has a California spirit with a European flare,” Tallulah explains. “The maxi cardigan is a piece that you can take to Europe and wear in Paris, you can be in Rio, Dubai or even in Australia and it will translate.”
For their current collection Ruby and Tallulah have expanded their core pieces to silk shirts, pants and dresses: “but we will always have our long silk jackets – that’s the DNA of our brand”
Unlike most big brands nowadays, all of the we are LEONE pieces are made locally and ethically in Los Angeles. The sisters work with the best silk mills and are involved every step of the way. Ruby tells us that when they walk into their factory they “have an actual relationship with every single person working for them.” Not only do their pieces translate to womens wardrobes all over the world, they have this insane quality to them which make them last for years and years. Ruby and Tallulah create the kind of pieces that women will eventually want to pass down to their daughters: elegant, timeless and one of a kind. Although they always design and create their collections together, the sisters have specific roles within the company. Ruby oversees the sampling, production, fabrics and wholesaling whilst Tallulah focuses more on the business side of things. “I do all the financing, our accounting, marketing and PR,” she explains, “I like to think big business.”
To wrap up our fun filled day at casa LEONE, the girls show us their swoon worthy sample pieces for the pre-spring and spring summer 19 desert inspired collection. The Luke pant in MJ Night and Leopard print are already one of our many favorites. We select some pieces as the sisters have kindly offered to dress some of our clients during award season and pick out a piece each to add to our ever-growing collection. We load the items into the car and hug or favorite designers goodbye. They are off to Paris for fashion week in the morning so it will be a while before we see them again.
It’s fair to say that Ruby and Tallulah’s ascent since moving we are LEONE from London to LA has been exponential. Even for Los Angeles, a city where beautiful people and beautiful things are as abundant as the sunshine, we are LEONE and the sisters behind it are something else.
Q&A PART I
What time do you wake up?
RRI: I wake up at 8/8:30am, we have dogs so if it’s not my alarm waking me up, I wake up with little licks on my face telling me its time to rise and shine and to let them into the garden…
TRI: Everyday is different ! I’m generally a sleepy person though but sometimes Im up really early watching the sun come up but sometimes not until late (like 945) as I like to work from bed in the morning! Most Sundays are spent in bed all day long or on beautiful days will lay outside and doze all morning too! Our office is at home so we are spoiled with how late we get to sleep in
What is your wake-up ritual?
RRI: Wake up with our dogs, let them out in the garden, flicking on the kettle for tea, and sitting in the garden with Tallulah talking about our dreams and our day ahead…
TRI: Letting the dogs out and sitting on our front steps of the garden getting some sun with a cup of tea and doggies snuggled up!
How do you mentally prepare for the day?
RRI: Always with a big cup of tea! Tallulah and I usually have a daily pow-wow about everything that needs to get done first thing in the morning. We always put on some fun tunes so it keeps the office vibe lifted, happy, and energetic
TRI: Ruby and I live together so we spend most mornings talking about our day at our kitchen table over tea. The girls who work for us come in and sit with us and we have morning meetings before heading upstairs to our office! We like to play music and have allot of laughs to keep with atmosphere light and happy and creative
Favorite city to visit / favorite city to live in?
RRI: I love visiting Rome. I grew up there most of my life, so its so wonderful to walk around the beautiful streets and slip into my favorite restaurants and café’s that bring back so many old beautiful memories. To live, without a doubt LA (Venice)! I moved back to LA a little over a year ago and live next to the beach in Venice. I have totally fallen in love with it. The energy (I sound so LA now - haha) is so amazing and uplifting, people are so down to earth, I am more creative and driven here than anywhere else I’ve lived!
TRI: Paris to visit – its always so inspirational and has this wonderful, elegant way of life. Im such a people watcher so I love to sit at a café for hours with a coffee or glass of red wine and look at everyone passing by! I always come back inspired. LA/Venice to live… There is nowhere better in terms of easy lifestyle with sunny weather, ocean air and a melting pot of fantastic people from all over the world. I feel lucky everyday to live here!
What is the last book you read?
RRI: Uhh… so hard! I am a book worm. My favorite book growing up was Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, but recently read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr which I just loved!
TRI: Charles Bukowski – Love is a Dog from Hell
Who is the last person that texted you?
RRI: My guy
TRI: My man
What's the most attractive quality in someone?
RRI: Humor, adventurous, and being humble
TRI: Curiosity and humor
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
RRI: Night owl for sure!
TRI: Night owl all the way!
Woman you would most like to dress in WAL?
RRI: Lady Gaga. (present day… not when she was wearing meat dresses)
TRI: Michelle Obama
Q&A PART II
What does your ideal food day look like?
RRI: Large cup of tea in the morning, either a chopped salad or soup for lunch, and usually fish for dinner (or a large bowl of pasta on the weekends!)
TRI: A cup of tea in the morning, a huge soup and baguette for lunch and a grilled fish and a glass of white wine at dinner
What is a source of inspiration for you?
RRI: Everyday life…
TRI: Trips to new places
Something you can’t leave the house without?
RRI: Phone, cash, lipstick.
TRI: My keys but I forget them all the time and have to jump my fence at least once a week lol
How do you recharge?
RRI: Weekdays are usually pretty intense and busy with work, so on weekends Tallulah and I really indulge in relaxing. We cook a lot, sit on our garden, paint, read, knit, go for long walks with our dogs.
TRI: Sundays in bed with my phone switched off , long baths and classical music playing
Words of wisdom you would tell your younger self?
RRI: Ditto to what Tallulah said….she taught me that
TRI: Love and know yourself before you love anyone else
What do you hold close in life?
RRI: Tallulah (and of course Lupo.. my pup)
TRI: The bond I have with my sister
If you weren’t designers you would be…?
RRI: Chef! Or a candle maker… I have a candle obsession
TRI: A florist or a writer (still time ! )
Best gift you ever received?
RRI: My dog
TRI: A love letter
Q&A PART III
Favorite fashion designer?
RRI: Currently loving the Brock Collection
TRI: Dries Van Noten
RRI: Cheese + Baguette + Fig Jam = Heaven
TRI: Peanut butter
Recent fashion item you splurged on?
RRI: A vintage backless top
TRI: A vintage jacket for inspiration
Something you recently discovered?
TRI: Im an introvert … The older I get the more I love to be alone and I cherish being quiet with myself
Favorite karaoke song?
RRI: Chirs Isaak – Wicked Games or anything Celine Dion!
TRI: Son of A preacher Man
What do you admire most about each other?
RRI: Tallulah’s strength and courage
TRI: Rubys constant calm and her ability to always think things through at length before making a decision. Im impulsive and very emotional
Where will you travel next?
TRI: Paris for Fashion Week
Do you like to sit window or aisle on the plane?
RRI: Aisle – I drink SOOOO much water on the plane and have been caught waking people up while practically sitting on them which has been very embarrassing so have learnt my lesson and just stay in the aisle where its safe!
TRI: window – the best time to dream and think is looking out the window of a plane! Im also scared of flying to it keeps me calm looking at the clouds
Dinner party at your house. What do you cook?
RRI: It changes all the time! We go to the local markets on the weekend so what ever I get inspired by there…
TRI: We have them all the time ! Ruby is an insane chef so she usually cooks (I love to but shes better!) so its always something different! Im in charge of ambiance and laying the table and making sure everyone has a drink in their hand!
Q&A PART IV
Fondest we are Leone memory?
RRI: Walking into your favorite store and seeing your collection there! It’s a pinch me moment!
TRI: Seeing it on a stranger for the first time
Ruby, describe Tallulah in three words?
RRI: Mystical, outragesly fun, loving
Tallulah, describe Ruby in three words?
TRI: Loyal, homey and warm
What’s your most used emoj?
TRI: The little pink hearts or palm trees 💕🌴
What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn?
RRI: More languages
What’s on your bedside table?
RRI: Books and a candle
TRI: My crystals books candles and my diary
What time do you go to bed?
RRI: Usually around 11pm but some nights it can end at 2am with Tallulah and I being really creative and talk until our eyes close…