A Virtual Tour Of Local Designer Louisa Parris’ Darling Noe Valley Studio

Hands-down one of the most talented fashion designers residing in the Bay Area, the London-born, Noe Valley-residing Louisa Parris studied at Central Saint Martins, worked in New York, and picked up a Gen Art Award for Rising Talent before settling in San Francisco. To see where all of Parris' work goes down—the sketching, draping, cutting, etc.—we paid a visit to her gorgeous Noe Valley studio, which is positively drenched in light and filled with mood boards, drawing pads, fragrant blooms, and a million other pretty things. After taking our virtual tour of the space, we dare you to not be inspired!
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How does living and working in San Francisco influence you?
"Being in San Francisco has turned out to be the perfect place for me, but at first I did struggle being away from the buzz of London. I think living here has given me time to grow and nurture my own design style and understand what I want to say as a designer. London can be so intense, so being in a quiet studio in Noe has been a real calming influence. The light here, the art museums, and the music scene, are all fantastic and have really inspired me over the last five years."
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Tell us about this inspiration board.
"Art comes into play in a lot in my work, but typography is new to me. I've discovered it from being surrounded by my husband's books. I've even been talked into seeing films on the subject, including the documentary Helvetica."
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This ring is so bold! Where did you get it?
"I love this ring! I bought it from a hippy/tie-dye shop near my apartment called Xela Imports. They have jewelry from all over the world and some of it is really graphic."
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How important is color in your work?
"Color is one of the biggest parts of what I do and it's becoming more and more so. It's dictating every design I'm doing at the present, as you will see with my upcoming accessories collection. Color inspiration has come in the form of hot air balloons and random things like Wedgwood pottery (an amazing dusty blue) and satin dance shoes from the British Royal Opera House costume sale (I picked them up in a shade of emerald green)."
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In a sentence, how would you describe your line and your aesthetic?
"My work focuses on elegance, drape, color, and simplicity."
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Where do you get all of your pretty pencils and markers to sketch your collection with?
"I'm very loyal with my equipment. All my pens are Copic and my pencils are LYRA by Rembrandt Polycolor. I use mechanical pencils as that was what my mother, an illustrator, always used. I also love the black Sharpie fine-liners."
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You have some amazing fashion history books. Which designers of the past do you love?
"I like to go quite far back: Paul Poiret, Charles James, Madeleine Vionnet, Norman Hartnell, designers from the Wiener Werkstatte workshop... I can go on and on! But it's only every now and then that I feel in awe about a designer, so most of my research comes from artists and photographers."
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All of the little trinkets in your home are so inspiring! Where did you get this clock?
"My husband Chris picked up this Kodak clock at a yard sale. It's an old manual darkroom timer. As for the books, they are from my grandparents' house. They're all Penguin classics and well loved, worn, and read. I actually think I should move them out of the sunlight asap!"
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We're loving your nail polish! Are you a beauty junkie at all?
"My nails and hair color and cut get all my attention! I like doing different things with them because they are quick fixes and I constantly get bored and want to try something new. I think it all goes back to my love of color. I've also just bought three different YSL Rouge Volupte lipsticks. The pigments and softness are amazing!"
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What's been inspiring you lately?
"I flip all over the place when it comes to inspiration. In the past two months, for example, I have been in London, Ireland, Ohio, Napa, and San Francisco. I've seen three documentaries: Smash His Camera, Bill Cunningham New York, and La Dance. I've bought vintage postcards from a bookshop in London. I've seen two exhibitions: Yohji Yamamoto and Pulp Fashion. I've been to a talk by Hamish Bowles at de Young, and I've seen four bands play live!" 

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You have such a beautiful collection of tea and tea tins. Where did you get them?
"I'm a total tea addict and it's all about the black tea or 'Builders Tea' as we call it at home. I have a collection of tea tins from all over the place— Paris, London, Hong Kong, etc. In San Francisco I go to Bi-Rite for Taylors of Harrogate and PG tips. Then to get the fancy tea I head to Dandelion on Potrero Avenue for the French tea Mariage. The Earl Grey French Blue by Mariage is ace, as is the tea tin!"
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We see a lot of Art Deco influence in your work. Are you a big fan of that era?
"I think I'm drawn to keeping things simple and Art Deco is a period that is so refined. I would love to start buying some of the furniture from that period at some point."
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Where did you get your creative side from?
"I think I've picked it up from my mother and father, since they've been in design most of their lives. She is a fashion illustrator, and he worked as a retail designer."
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Where are you at as far as seasons go?
"I've just started Spring 2012 and my research is all over the place! But when it comes to editing, I think I'm very fast, since I know what I love."
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You have an amazing collection of art and coffee table books. When did you start collecting them?
"I think I started collecting art and design books when I was in art school. For me it's like taking a little bit of an exhibition back home. All my books are so dear to me and they are what I collect the most. Well, that and scarves! I see the books as my library and hope one day to build a room to house them.. then donate them as I can't take them with me!" 
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What are your last two book purchases?
"My last two buys have been about British artists Ben Nicholson and Bridget Riley."
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Where did you get this darling color wheel necklace?
"This was my was one of my Christmas presents from Chris this year. It came from The Yellow Owl Workshop in San Francisco and it was packaged inside a little test tube!"
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What about this piece?
"It's fabulous costume jewelry from a vintage shop in Soho, London. I was meeting my sister for lunch just by Central Saint Martins and I couldn't help myself."
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