Alayne Patrick of Layla

I recently visited with with Alayne Patrick of Layla in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn one of the most wonderful neighborhood stores in the entirely chic neighborhood of Brooklyn on Hoyt Street (between Atlantic and Smith St.) I have written about her store before, but I wanted you to get to know Alayne just a bit better (because you will be seeing A LOT of her collection on Nonchalant Mom). Right now we have a trunk show going on with Alayne's beautiful Summer 2010 collection until June 18th and I can tell that you all love her talent for making something simply beautiful just as much as I do!

Just in case you can make it to her store, don't miss her wonderful towel shop across the street! hours are only wednesday - sunday, so make sure she is open before you visit!

I asked Alayne to talk about her travels, since she goes everywhere!

1) I know that you travel quite a bit so tell us about your FAVORITE PLACE!

-Anywhere in India. If I had to pick one place it would be Kashmir, for the people, peace, and beauty.

2) Are you a finicky traveler or do you just go with it? Tell us about your travel 'tricks'.. everybody has them and we want to know yours!

-I don't plan ahead. I never have a set itinerary. I always carry a shawl, handwipes, incense, and pack lots of Layla kurta dresses to wear over churidars. This is my uniform when I travel.

3) What is your favorite food (from a far away place) and if you know how to make it please tell us!

-Kashmiri food at my good friend's home. It's clean, fresh and the chutneys are delicious. If I only knew how to make it...

4) And we all want to know what you LOVE to do in your favorite place?

-In Kashmir I'm on vacation so just spending time in my friend's home; their sincerity is inspiring. They are the most gracious, lovely family. The moghul gardens are beautiful as is the Dal Lake. The houseboats with intricate wood carving and of course, the most beautiful pashminas. The air of Kashmir touches one's heart.

5) I know you travel a lot but really how much (I think it will come as a surprise to some people!)

-In general, I make two to three trips per year to India, usually three weeks at a time. Each trip I try to include a new destination to discover. My latest trip was to Pondicherry, a seaside town in the South and checked out Auroville Ashram.

6) What was your inspiration to start Layla, the store and the collection?

-I went to India on a personal trip and spent most of my time in Delhi, then traveled a bit in Rajasthan and discovered so many beautiful things. I met generous people who shared with me the techniques and types of dyeing, blockprinting, embroideries and also discovered beautiful antique jewelry and the intricacies of that craft. The colors and textures of everything there inspired me to bring back the finer qualities of what India has to offer; many things I had never seen in the West. I started making clothing because the Indian styles and fits are not suitable for us westerners. I am trying to translate Indian techniques and styles into our own original prints and designs using better quality fabrics and construction, made by master craftspeople who are socially and quality conscious.

7) What is your favorite find and where did you find it?

-My earrings I have on; they are antique gold with enamel work. I found them in Old Delhi and tried to bargain as they were in a very dirty junk shop. The man would not bargain and told me to leave! I never stopped thinking about them and months later on my next trip, the first thing I did was go back to buy them. This time, the brother was there and I got a great price. I took them back to my hotel and cleaned them up to reveal their hidden beauty, as they were so dirty they would be unrecognizable. They are very intricate and unique. Everywhere I go in India people comment on them. They are a treasure.

8) Your collection is so colorful, tell us where you get that inspiration!

-If only I could translate the beautiful colors of India, it is only an attempt on my part. I always say I would love to see color through an Indian set of eyes. There are also so many beautiful bold colors and combination's beyond our Western sensibility and the collection only touches on a fraction of the possibilities.

Please tell us about a few of your favorite things....

-Khadi towels, pashmina shawls, antique jewelry, Alexander Gorlitzki miniature paintings, and the beauty and inspiration India provides for me. The relationships I have with all of the lovely people I have come to know and work with.

Layla collection at Nonchalant Mom
Layla Trunk Show - Summer 2010 - through June 18th