Leslie Tessler 2013 Trunk Show: Capes, Capes, Capes!
By Sharon Salt.
Winter is finally here, so it’s only fitting that Leslie Tessler just launched her new collection of capes. I was lucky enough to attend the trunk show hosted in her spacious Recoleta showroom. On any given day, it’s filled with spools of extra thread, hand-picked buttons, and thumbnails from photo shoots. That night, however, it was also filled with champagne, mini cakes, capes from her new collection, and countless clusters of people.
Leslie came to Buenos Aires for six months in 2010 to learn Spanish. But her plans quickly changed: “Two months into my stay, I met my now-husband,” she told me. Today, she is based between Buenos Aires and New York.
“I consider myself lucky to be able to spend time in two of the most amazing cities in the world,” said Leslie. “For me, they’re perfectly complimentary. I definitely have a better quality of life and more balance in Buenos Aires, but when I get a bit antsy, the energy of Manhattan is exactly what I need.”
Leslie had been wearing vintage capes for years and always had a “cape project” in the back of her mind. She had experience working in the New York fashion industry, so as soon as she started making pieces for her friends and family, the Leslie Tessler label was not far behind.
The label is founded on the idea of timeless over trendy, an important distinction for Leslie. “It always seemed strange to me that every few years capes would come ‘into fashion’ and you’d see them everywhere. When I think of a cape, [it’s like] a classic trench or a little black dress. The cape is an investment piece that gets better with age.”
In this collection, she wanted to showcase the timeless beauty from the 50’s that inspired many of her favorite pieces in her own wardrobe. As I looked around the room at women trying on capes and picking out the perfect buttons, I realized Leslie was right: throw a classy cape over anything, and it’s instantly – and effortlessly – chic.
Each of the collection’s new styles was born in that very showroom, starting with a sketch. From there, Leslie works with her design assistant, Luisina – “an absolute genia” – to make them a reality. The fabrics and buttons, on the other hand, are sourced from Leslie’s travels. The alpaca is from Peru, the cashmeres are from Italy, the silks are from France, and many of the custom, hand-woven wools are from Argentina.
She doesn’t have really have a favorite – “That’s like asking someone to pick a favorite child!” – but will always love the Titan, the style that launched the label. She also suggests a new cape called the Lulu, which has a turtleneck and is the perfect kind of cozy for winter.
For a label that only makes capes, there’s still a lot of ground to cover. Think trench capes, bike capes, and floor-length evening capes. “We’ve just started scratching the surface,” Leslie said, “Plus, I’m expecting in December so obviously a line of capes for little girls is in the works as well.”
When I asked if she had any advice for other entrepreneurial-minded expats in Buenos Aires, she said, “Learn to be patient! I’m type A all the way, which doesn’t really fly as an entrepreneur here. Stressing about things doesn’t make them happen any faster or more efficiently.” Learn this, she said, and you’ll save yourself many sleepless nights.
Sleepless nights or no, though, Leslie’s hard work has certainly paid off.