Lauren Conrad's been something of a style icon since her early days on The Hills. The Newport Beach native popularized black nail polish, long ombre locks and liquid eyeliner, so turning that trendsetting power into actual design post-reality TV makes sense. After a false start with her 2008 line, The Lauren Conrad Collection, Conrad’s found her design niche with Paper Crown . “The majority of my first collection was jersey dresses and it was really branded that way. This one is pretty different,” Conrad says. But what’s the difference? Paper Crown closely mimics Conrad’s personal fashion and avoids the LC name-dropping, “I wanted to do an upstairs line that didn’t have my name in the title. I wanted the clothes to stand for themselves.” With four collections already locked in—and stores reportedly selling out of launch items like “hot cakes”—it looks like Paper Crown has legs to stand on.
ELLE: How did you land on the name, Paper Crown?
Lauren Conrad: The story of Paper Crown came from when I use to visit my grandmother. We would always want to play dress up, but she didn’t have my dress up trunk there. So, we would cut things out of paper and make crowns and that was our own way of dressing up.
ELLE: What’s important about keeping the “dress up” spirit?
LC: When you’re little, it’s a game you play; it’s a pastime, something that you love. I think that’s what dressing yourself is all about. It’s having fun with it. It’s self-expression. It’s feeling pretty. I have the most fun with my outfits when I’m dressing to go to a dive bar with my girlfriends and you’re doing something different with your look. But Los Angeles has it’s own laid back take on most trends, we tend to take a more relaxed approach to things that are high fashion in New York.
ELLE: Did you pay attention to any specific trends for the collection?
LC: When you’re dealing with clothing lines, branding is really involved. You study the trends and then you interpret it in your own way. With Paper Crown, our palette is always going to be much softer and more romantic then most of the other colors out there. You want to incorporate new trends, but still stay true to the brand you’ve created.
ELLE: What’s your design process like?
LC: I wanted to do pieces that were very chic but could also translate into pool wear. I’m a big fan of the cover-up, because I’m the girl who’s afraid of the sun and is rarely in a bikini. So, a top like that is something I could wear tucked into a mini-skirt for a more polished look or something I could wear over a bathing suit.
ELLE: Before you started designing, did you keep a wish list of things to design?
LC: I’ve done that for awhile. I still do that today. We just designed this sweater. I have a similar one that’s too big—the fabric content isn‘t quite right and I don’t love the color—but I love the concept of it. So, I was able to get a really soft knit and do it in this lovely oatmeal. That’s kind of the perk of designing a line, that you’re able to make the pieces you’ve been searching for.
ELLE: What are the staple pieces in your closet right now?
LC: I’ve been wearing a lot of Equipment. They’re so great because they’re really transitional—I can wear them with skinnies and flats for the day and then layer on a cardigan or a blazer, add a heel, and throw my hair up. I think that’s a really amazing basic. I like them in both the silk and chiffon.
ELLE: Have you spotted anyone in Paper Crown yet?
LC: It just went into stores, but the other day, I was shopping at Ron Herman and the saleswoman a few feet away from me was holding up a pair of my pants and saying it was the last pair. The rest were sold out. It was pretty amazing!
Interview via ELLE Magazine