#InTheStudio with St. Roche

#InTheStudio with St. Roche

Sue Stemp, the designer behind St. Roche, is like that impossibly chic new transfer student with an exotic accent and alleged familial ties to the Rolling Stones. She's the definition of cool, a CFDA member and fashion vet bringing her talent and style to the St. Roche team.

Based in Laurel Canyon, the St. Roche team has been producing sustainable textiles with a rock–and–roll edge since 2014. The brand draws inspiration from the best of New York’s urban–chic set as well as from LA's laid–back counterparts. Each piece in their spring collection is effortless and feminine—with an ease that reflects Southern California's own bohemian feel. Here's an inside look at the line's relaxed and minimalist studio and their latest collection.

Shop the summer collection from St. Roche>>

What about living in Laurel Canyon do you find inspiring?
"I love living in the heart of nature. We have great views, amazing skies, birds and wildflowers all around us—plus the eucalyptus and jasmine smell amazing."

You have a long history of working as a designer—why did you create St. Roche?
"When we moved from NY to LA seven years ago, my wardrobe wasn't versatile enough. I didn't have a lot of daywear that was cool, interesting and inexpensive. Everything I owned was basically black 'going–out' clothes. I saw a void ad I wanted to fill it. We created St. Roche for women with busy schedules, who travel, love fashion and need something beautiful, feminine, original and easy to throw on and go—and who appreciates responsibly made clothes."

Your coffee table book collection is amazing. Do you have a favorite?
"Above all, I love my photography books. One of my favorite art photographers is Rinko Kawauchi. I always turn to her book Illuminance when I'm making mood boards. I also love the Ryan McGinley, Mark Borthwick, Nick Knight, Criag McDean, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton and David Hamilton books. I own too many to mention, but I reference them all the time."

How did you get your space to feel so calm and peaceful?
"Our studio is actually a converted cottage (which we're still working on!) and Led Zeppelin apparently lived here briefly in the '70s. We wanted lots of natural light and a NYC loft–like open space. It's a great working environment and pretty peaceful up here in the hills. That is, until we blast the music!"

Where do you find all of your amazing decor?
"We bought this Navajo rug on a road trip around the southwest, and we bought the antique Souzani with the amazing hot pink and burgundy embroidery during a recent trip to Jaipur. I'm constantly picking things up when we travel, especially textiles, and I love flea markets!"

One of the most intriguing aspects of your line is conscious consumerism. How do you integrate this into your line?
"After becoming a mom, I became much more aware of using organic fabric—it's actually much easier to buy cool kids clothes that are consciously made. Whenever we're presented with an option of using an eco–friendly fabric alternative, we will use it. Since w'’re still a small company, it's not always possible, but I think every little step helps towards caring for the environment and increasing consumers' awareness to sustainability counts. Plus, natural fibers have the best soft–hand feel!"

You've lived all over—how does California stack up to London and New York?
"I'm really enjoying living in California! LA is having a moment right now. A lot of cool, creative businesses and interesting restaurants are opening. Exploring the west coast is still new and fascinating to me: it feels healthy to live here and the weather's obviously fantastic. I do miss London and New York and being able to walk everywhere and run into friends. I go back often though, so I'm happy with that balance."

What is your favorite piece in the spring collection?
"I absolutely love our Liza top which was inspired in part by my collection of vintage Broderie Anglaise and Victorian linens and laces."

There's a great photo of Debby Harry on your studio wall—are you a fan?
"Debbie Harry was my first muse ever! I love this photo by Mick Rock of Debbie wearing Stephen Sprouse. For the brand though, I don't look to celebrities for inspiration. I'm much more interested in my friends with great style or a woman you see on the street with a cool original way of pulling a look together."

Photos: Bret Lemke