Former supermodel and beauty icon, Gail Elliott, is the woman behind the highly sought after label Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott. After a long and successful career as a fashion model, Elliott has designed a fashion label of her own – and it’s every bit as luxurious, sexy, and edgy as you would imagine.
Tell us about Little Joe Woman, what’s the inspiration behind the company: Having worked with so many talented fashion designers as a model, I have come to appreciate quality, luxury and how beautiful clothing makes a woman feel. I was extremely fortunate to enjoy a long successful career as a fashion model based in New York for twenty four years in the 90s, but had begun to feel a need to express my learning and my fashion thoughts and feelings creatively. My first designs were very simple and consisted of six silk slips and six silk camisoles in six colors – pieces I wanted to wear and couldn’t find in stores at the time that worked with my hectic travel schedule.They were easy to pack and made me feel good to wear. My mission with Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott is to connect with the women of this world and now our collections have developed from sleepwear as outerwear to dresses, skirts, flowing maxi’s, shirts and tops that can be easily worn and ready to go that suit any lifestyle, that make you feel polished and are appropriate for all occasions whether you’re heading to a business meeting, the school drop – off, lunch, the airport or cocktails.
“Having worked with so many talented fashion designers as a model, I have come to appreciate quality, luxury and how beautiful clothing makes a woman feel.”
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve can share with us on starting your own company? It’s very important to be across every aspect of your own company. It’s not enough to design clothing and let it stop there. Before becoming Co-Founder and Creative Director of Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott, I was a model for 24 years. I had never been to design school or to business school. With the design aspect, I’d been fortunate enough to have worked closely with all the most talented designers and stylists, so from being around them constantly, I was influenced by them. They taught my fit, colour, cut and style. I also had a good idea of what looked good on me, and on how clothing made me feel. The business side came with trial and error. I had to learn about fabric prices, fabric consumption, dyeing, cutting, margins, sampling, wholesale, retail, store fit-outs, store rentals, dealing with department stores (and all the rules and regulations they have when you wholesale to them), staff, shrinkage, stock-take, sale and so many other aspects of this business – and I’m still learning. Luckily, my husband Joe Coffey is also my business partner, so I can share some of this with him. Most of all, I learned that you need to be across everything to have a successful business in retail.
What has your background in fashion modeling brought to your company? Having had a background in the fashion modeling business for twenty four years has brought to our company my experience in fashion and taught me the power of clothing and how wearing a piece you love can change your entire mood. Having been a successful model also gave me a name in the fashion business and fashion circles so when we started our clothing brand, these influential people in the business were interested to see what we’d created. Being in the fashion business I’ve also became close friends with influential models who wear our brand. Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, and Yasmin Le Bon were my bridesmaids nineteen years ago and still wear Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott. Friends including Elle Macpherson, Eva Hertsigova and Christy Turlington also wear it – so having had a background in fashion modeling has been very positive. I love seeing how these beautiful women and our beautiful customers style their Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott pieces and seeing someone in the street or on social media wearing our brand, or even holding one of our carrier bags, will always excite me.
How can your style best be described: My style can be best described as rock-chic/boho-luxe. I love to combine lace, leather, fringe and cashmere. I love wearing long silk chiffon maxi skirts in our exclusive boho-luxe prints with delicate camisoles. Slip dresses, blazers with leather pants & lace blouses as well as fringe cocktail dresses are all favourites of mine. I look forward to continuing to grow our brand and designing beautiful pieces for stylish, interesting women all over the world.
What is your favorite print to wear: I love a good leopard print and include one in most collections. I also love a boho paisley/floral/ditsy print as I find them timeless and cool. Teamed with a denim or leather jacket, this is one of my favourite looks.
What is your must-have carry on item when flying: I have a very large Balenciaga hold-all bag that I fly with that contains all my flying necessities – books, magazines, aromatherapy lavender spray I use on the pillow to relax me to sleep, mineral water, nuts and snacks, a light cashmere wrap and Aspect facial moisturiser.
The one skincare product you can’t live without: I’ve been using Aspect products for a while which I find are amazing from my skin. There isn’t just one product, I find a few of them work well together – the ones I use are Aspect Exfol L which is a skin resurfacing serum containing Alpha Hydroxy Acid which I use twice daily, Retinol Brûlée serum, Eyelift serum and Phyostat 9 moisturiser. I don’t use them all everyday, just when I feel my skin needs a particular product. Now that I live full-time in Bali and the weather is always hot and humid, I don’t need as much moisturiser but when I travel to Europe or Australia in the winter months, I need something heavier. I also find one of the most important ways of taking care of my skin is to hydrate from the inside, so I drink a lot of mineral water throughout the day.
The ultimate day-to-night Little Joe Woman piece, and why: For me, and our customers, the ultimate day-to-night Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott piece is the Soak Up The Sun silk chiffon dress in black. I wear mine during the day with a denim jacket and beige Gladiator flat sandals, or in the evening with a leather jacket and heels or booties.
How do you best define a Little Joe Woman: For me, the Little Joe Woman appreciates luxury – she’s chic, she’s subtly sexy with a rock-chic street style vibe, she’s a busy person, enjoys travel and loves life… just like me!
To learn more, visit Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott.
Photography credit: Steven Chee and Joe Coffey.