Studio Tour: Inside Designer Lyndsey Butler’s Moody Downtown Loft

Lyndsey Butler's unusual all-leather collection, VEDA, has become the quintessence of cool, downtown hip.

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Catherine Blair Pfander / Thread NY
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Catherine Blair Pfander/The Thread
Lyndsey Butler launched her collection of all-leather ready-to-wear, VEDA, in the spring of 2008. The line has since become a go-to source for immaculately tailored motorcycle jackets, perfect leather shorts, and cleanly-cut leather dresses. We caught up with Butler at her beautifully appointed studio to see how she keeps reinventing her hip leather basics.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
"Because I didn't have any design experience, per se -- I had worked at other fashion companies, and had been around design, but didn't know exactly how to do everything -- I knew I wanted to focus on just one thing, and get really really good at it," Butler explains.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Improve she did, and soon Butler discovered she was more creative working within the "box" of an all-leather collection than a more traditional brand.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
"It's definitely challenging," says Butler. "Leather is really different from other materials. It has a life of its own, it behaves really different from other things. I liked that it could translate to lots of things -- leather pants, leather dresses, leather tops, or you know, some people drape it, it can be really structured or really thin. I liked that about it a lot. So I think the challenge of it is exciting but I also like the versatility [of leather]." Here, suede samples for an upcoming collection.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
While motorcycle jackets are a hallmark of the VEDA brand, Butler claims half the battle was exploring what other wardrobe staples could be rendered in leather, particularly for the spring and summer seasons. "It really doesn't have to be a motorcycle jacket -- I don't want one right now, either," she laughs. "But I would definitely wear a little leather dress in the summer, one that's super open in the back."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Butler adapted this shawl-collar jacket to the hot summer months by executing the body in breathable linen.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Butler continues to incorporate contrasting cottons and lightweight fabrics into her leather pieces. This vest, for example, features a soft cotton stripe.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Spring also marked the return of VEDA handbags. "I really like doing handbags," says Butler. "They're more difficult for me -- I've always been a jacket girl: I know what I want from a jacket, I know how I want it to fit. With bags I'm never into the 'It' bag of the season, so making them is more of a challenge for me, which is fun."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Samples from Butler's Fall 2011 collection stand on a rack inside her beautifully decorated studio space. For the new season, Butler returned to motorcycle details "because I hadn't done them in awhile, and girls always seem to go for the edgier pieces."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Experimental textures and techniques give the fall collection a vibrancy and diversity that's unexpected in an all-leather line. Here, an unusual tie-dyed suede.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
A colorful collection of sugar skulls watches over Butler's desk from their vantage on the opposite wall.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Butler tends to favor loose, drape-y shapes in spring and tailored silhouettes in the winter. "By fall, I'm usually ready to get back into more constructed, sharper, edgier pieces," she explains. "This fall particularly it was this mix between a secretary look by day and a rock 'n' roll vibe at night. She has a little bit of both in her."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Fit continues to be a huge emphasis in the collection, which has been praised for its considered tailoring and slim silhouettes. "For me, it's about a great shoulder, a nice skinny sleeve -- something sexy without being over-the-top."
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Catherine Blair Pfander
In the next year, Butler hopes to continue expanding the collection to offer even more wardrobe staples in her signature super-soft leathers.
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