Last month at The Box, a music and variety club in New York's Lower East Side, a parade of models in a mashup of eccentric and escapist clothes marked the arrival of a quirky new fashion label on the scene.
The performance-style show was a fitting debut for Loisida, the brainchild of Central Saint Martins graduate Carson Lovett and Veronika Vilim (a model who also founded the band CumGirl8). With its baroque connotations, collaged assembly and flouncy shapes, the brand represents the most rigorous and highest level of craftsmanship the two have embarked on to-date.
Visually and intrinsically, a lot of Loisida's references stem from the streets of the Lower East Side itself, a multicultural neighborhood in New York known for its eclectic mix of gritty alleys, bustling nightlife, speakeasies, dive bars and synagogues. (The neighborhood is sometimes referred to as Loisaida, which is where the brand takes its name from.)
"I would describe it as experimental, bright, [and] nonjudgmental," Veronika tells PAPER. "There isn’t really another neighborhood that is the same. All working creatives, young and old — there’s a lot of vintage but it’s also very supportive of young designers."
It's these references combined with the (real-life) couple's passion for storytelling that make up the essence of Loisida. Veronika recently wore pieces from the collection while stopping by LES locales with Carson, including Economy Candy, Remedy Diner and Seward Park. Below, the two talk about the neighborhood's inspirations and the formation of Loisida.
How would you describe Lower East Side style?
Veronika: I would say it's loud, colorful, young, early 2000’s. There are so many characters in dimes square/ LES that all have so much substance to them.
Carson: The lower east side is a very social space. It feels to me like a biome of conversation, creativity, and energy. It does not give the impression of being a commuter neighborhood. It feels like an escape from the madness or an endpoint on a journey. It’s an “urban resort” more than anything; you don’t need to leave for want of anything. From meeting people who have lived in this neighborhood for decades to meeting new city transplants, there seems to be a real passion for community and an appreciation for newness. All of the galleries popping up and new shops, I think it’s changed, even in the short time I’ve been here.
What about the neighborhood inspires you so much?
Veronika: It’s a place for young creatives, I guess because it’s the most affordable place to live at the moment in Manhattan? There is more ease than other parts of the city. It feels really safe as well. Like a nice little community of love and art. There’s so many cool things happening in the neighborhood like the drunken canal newspaper. I also love all the stores that young designers have in the neighborhood. Also the boutique stores like Cafe Forgot, Big Ash and James Veloria.
Carson: I’m new to NYC so my knowledge of the area from the year I’ve lived here is based more on observation. The sounds of Seward Park on a Saturday afternoon, all of the competing music and conversations melting together as one. Visually, it has a different effect; at times it dawns on me that everything in front of me could be part of a film; it’s undeniably cinematic. Canal street gives the impression of an urban, un-choreographed fashion runway, not for me but the more you watch, the more contrast and detail you can see playing out on the theatre of the street. These depictions of what captivate me, still have a grip on me.
What are some of your favorite LES hangouts?
Veronika: My favorite place in LES is Aedes Perfumery: It’s intoxicating, full on, and incredibly aesthetic. I have spent hours in here before, experiencing scent and memory. Metrograph: never a miss. SMASHED Burger: best damn burger in New York city. Golden Diner: Egg sandwich that changed my life.
Carson: East river walkway and Pier 36 outdoor area — the characters, the energy, the ineffective fitness facilities, the fisherman and their boomboxes, and a lot of outfit validation!
How did you and Carson first connect and what made you decide to launch this brand together?
Veronika: We first connected on Instagram in December 2020, he reached out to me wanting me to wear some of his clothes. Usually when people reach out to me about those kinds of things I don’t respond, but there was something about his clothes that were very wow to me. Nothing came from it till April 2021 when he reached out to me again about helping with the CG8 collection. I was like okay Yes I would LOVE that.
He lived in London and while working on it and FaceTiming daily we fell in love too. After the CG8 collection he wanted to teach me about the process of making clothes that he learned in school. It was different then how I did things. I used to make clothes for me and my band that I’d wear. Loisida was an exploration, lots of research. We were inspired by painters and paintings but artists like John Curran and Jessie Mackison to names few.
Carson: Veronika and I connected over Instagram initially. I wanted to make something for her. Nothing ever came of it, and I still haven’t made her the skirt, but months down the road I saw that she was designing a collection with her band and offered to help out. A few days later we were on zoom for three hours with each other and on and on. You get the point.
This launch initially came as a new avenue for us to explore our own voices, relationship and histories through clothing. We wanted it to be completely free and to aesthetically develop organically based on our two aesthetic sensibilities. When we started, we thought of it as a small collection of 3-4 looks, but we got so engaged with the textiles, and inspired by the story, we kept going further.
How did the runway show at The Box go and why did you want to show there?
Veronika: I’ve been going to the box since I was 16. It’s probably one of my favorite places to go out. One of my best friends Rebecca Knox’s cousin owns it so when we were thinking about the best venue to have the show at I called Rebecca and she said OMG perfect timing I’m planning on doing an event for the release of my new pilot "Untitled Performers Project" and would love to do an event together. It was serendipitous. I couldn’t have imagined a better release and to have celebrated a night of fashion and film with people I love.
Carson: The Box is a performance institution, its notorious and famous for its curios. Our friend Rebecca Knox made a beautiful pilot film called the “Untitled Performers Project” that was a rare and candid look into the lives and minds of a group of LES performers. Our top location pick was the box and when we called Rebecca to catch up, we mentioned it and we both decided to jointly show their together! Everything went according to plan, the only complaint I heard were formed as a wish that the runway continued for hours.
What's it been like to alternate between designing, modeling and being an entrepreneur?
Veronika: I love being busy, right now I’ve been the busiest I’ve ever been in my life and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. It’s definitely a lot to juggle, but being a model and also doing design I have a free model which is very cool. I find that especially with storytelling that is one of my favorite parts of modeling and performing. And when you get to create your own story through clothes, creative direction, hair, makeup etc is my favorite thing in the world.
Carson: The first time I ever actually modelled was for this shoot in Paper Magazine. LOL. We transition between entrepreneurship and designing fairly seamlessly. As a creative, if something managerial is on my mind I handle it as quickly as possible. I like to have full mental bandwidth when I create. Entrepreneurship and cutting or pattern-making don’t feel that different. They can all be creative but all require a lot of energy. I love running business, and I feel like my whole life I’ve been preparing for the moment when I could own and operate a business.
Photography: Mich Cardin