Celebrity stylist Karla Welch on why ‘good clothes open doors’
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My personal style signifier is a great haircut, either a pixie or a tight little cut with bangs curling down my face. I’ve always had a non- conventional haircut. I go to Pamela Neal at Benjamin Salon in West Hollywood, whose cuts last six months because she’s so precise. She used to cut David Bowie’s hair and still does Tilda Swinton’s. benjaminsalon.com
My earliest fashion memory is my birthday dress, from when I was four, which was a pale-yellow knitted sweater dress with brown pom-poms. It was probably a handmade hand-me-down from my sister.
The last thing I bought and loved was an oversized Balenciaga T-shirt. It’s just black with white stitching, but the sleeves have cascades of gorgeous French lace – it was love at first sight, and I immediately knew all the hundreds of ways that I would wear it.
And on my wishlist are Adam Pogue curtains to go into my office at home. He’s a textile artist who I discovered through Commune Design in Los Angeles, and he makes these incredible patchwork and appliqué curtains – they look like stained glass. iamadampogue.com
The first piece of clothing I ever bought myself was probably an Esprit sweatshirt in the 1980s. I had a paper route, so I saved money to buy myself clothes. I also loved Benetton – I remember buying a green and white rugby shirt from there. I wish I still had it.
The place I can’t wait to return to is Powell Lake, just north of Vancouver, where my husband Matthew and I own a little island. I grew up near there and we’d go to the lake every summer with my parents. The island, which we renamed Dog Island because we have two rottweilers, is two acres full of big trees with lots of little trails around it. It has two cabins, which were built from reclaimed lumber, and we have plans to make it solar-powered. It’s charming but very rustic – there’s an outhouse with a composting toilet, and a wood-burning hot tub. You’re not staying at The Ritz.
The last music I downloaded was Serpentine Prison by Matt Berninger, the lead singer of The National. I love that he’s a postmodern man – a bit sad, a bit sensitive and interested in supporting powerful women.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of white jeans from The Row. I used them in a shoot with Hailey Bieber and I just loved them. They’re high-waisted with a wide leg, and they have that perfect little bit of elegance, which is what I’m looking for in my wardrobe.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown. She’s an amazing writer who talks about imagination and the patterns between nature and the man-made world. She’s a social-justice facilitator, and her books are about how to push for forward movement.
The fashion moment that changed everything was Virgil Abloh going to Louis Vuitton. I met him when he first started Off-White, and we started dressing Justin [Bieber] together – he was always such a lovely human being. But he also showed us all things we never would have imagined.
A recent “find” is Courage Bagels, over in Silverlake. They serve Montreal-style bagels, which are the best in all the land. My usual order is a Run it Thru the Garden on a “burnt everything” bagel. 777 N Virgil Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029, couragebagels.com
The best gift I’ve given recently is a Spore bracelet by Lisa Eisner to my husband for our anniversary. She is an LA-based artist who makes the most gorgeous organic, free-form jewellery. The one I bought him is made from blackened bronze. $990, lisaeisnerjewelry.com
And the best gift I’ve received recently is an Ana Khouri ring, which I now wear as my wedding ring. It’s a big gold band with a diamond that sits off to the side. Khouri studied sculpture and to me her designs are like wearing a piece of art. anakhouri.com
The beauty staples I’m never without are an eyebrow spoolie and Augustinus Bader The Cream. I don’t wear make-up, except for a bit of lipstick, but this makes my skin look like I’m 20 again. It’s the perfect formula for me.
In my fridge you’ll always find a bit of a mess. There’s wine and Graber olives, which are grown in California, and I have to put about eight tins in my suitcase any time I go home to Canada because my family is obsessed with them. I always have a fair amount of dead produce in there too – I hate that I waste food, and my plan for this year is to cook more at home.
I have a collection of pottery, which I’ve been amassing for at least 20 years. It could be a $2 or a $2,000 piece – it’s just a visceral thing where I hold it and kind of have to have it. I go to a lot of thrift stores all over the world, or there’s a great store in LA called OK, where my husband sometimes buys me gifts. okthestore.com
My style icon is Miuccia Prada. She has the most subversive form of sexiness. When you put on a Prada dress – and it can be the most nothing dress – you instantly feel like such a powerful woman. The very first designer piece I bought, 25 years ago, was a brown silk Prada pussybow blouse that I got at the Barneys warehouse sale.
The indulgences I would never forgo are facials or massages, which I have been a fan of since I was 13 years old and I’m not going to stop any time soon. I go to Joanna Vargas for facials, but for massages I will literally go anywhere – if I see a massage chair, I will sit down in it. Triple Crown Facial, $250, joannavargas.com
My favourite part of my house is my yard, which has lots of beautiful trees. That’s the beauty of living in California –it’s very indoor-outdoor. Our house is midcentury modern and it opens up to our pool and yard, which is filled with different varieties of eucalyptus, citrus and pine.
The item of clothing I’ll keep to pass on is a Balenciaga motorcycle jacket from when Nicolas Ghesquière was there, which I bought second-hand. I would save it from a fire. I also have a lot of beautiful vintage Ossie Clark dresses from Shrimpton Couture in Canada.
An object I would never part with is a painting by Darren Waterston, which my husband bought us as a wedding present. It’s a gorgeous, abstract spatial landscape. It’s very weird, and I just love it.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Umeda in LA. You have to make sure you’re ready for a bit of a wait but it’s worth it – the chef was an apprentice of Nobu Matsuhisa, and he does beautiful sushi. 6623 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038, umedarestaurant.com
This year, I’ve really come to appreciate The Beatles, who I always liked, but Peter Jackson’s Get Back was possibly the most amazing series I’ve ever seen. You are watching them put down the tape that you have been listening to your whole life, and that felt really profound to me. Just to see them come in with no songs and leave with “Let It Be”… It’s an unbelievable gift to get to watch it.
The best style advice I’ve ever been given is from my sister, who said “good clothes open doors”. It doesn’t mean expensive clothes, it’s about pulling yourself together and presenting yourself in a way that makes you feel good. Ultimately, it distils down to something quite powerful.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be the person who gets to cuddle baby pandas that have been separated from their mums. You put on a panda costume, and the babies just crawl all over the person. I don’t think there could be anything better.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Amy Sherald – I would love one of her portraits – or there’s an Edward Burtynsky that I’ve always wanted, one of his quarry images. Also, Tyler Shields’ photography is beautiful. I wouldn’t just collect one person, I would want a ton.
My favourite app is NYT Cooking. If I’m ever stuck with what to eat, I just go and see what its meal of the day is and make that. The other night I made an apple tarte Tatin.
The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are pieces of pottery from a special trip to Greece. We went to Pelion, which has little mountain villages we visited every night for dinner. We found a great woman making pottery, so I bought lots of bowls from her – some are unglazed, some turquoise. You can tell she just submits to the magic of the fire.