30 Jan 2024

The Regal Look

Caroline Lita Hall: Grand Ground Stand: C02
The Regal Look
The Regal Look
Emma Joseph meets fashion designer Caroline Lita Streat whose sustainable collections are inspired by The Royal Family and her British heritage

The Royal Family has been under increasing scrutiny in recent months, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II but, for Caroline Lita, they have long been a source of interest. The up and coming fashion designer, who is launching her own Caroline Lita brand at the end the year, finds constant inspiration in the iconic style of both the late Queen and Princess Diana, designing clothes that encapsulate an element of royalty, making the wearer feel luxurious and empowered. “My clothes are all quite vintage, inspired by British heritage, so I’m inspired by The Royal Family – Royalty meets Versace, inspired by Princess Diana,” explains Caroline, who lives in Ringwood and studied at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). “If you look at photos of Princess Diana, her fashion remains omnipresent today, decades after her death. From a fashion icon to a humanitarian rights campaigner, advocate for AIDs patients and supporting people to speak out about their mental health, she was a unique individual and ahead of her time and even her style remains in today’s society - it was timeless. “I wanted to create a brand that's not fast fashion. It might cost a bit more because it’s all made in England, but in ten years’ time it will still be in your wardrobe. Everyone now knows that fashion is one of the biggest polluters. That’s why it’s so important for new designers to be making sure that they’re finding ways to leave a minimum carbon footprint.” Caroline, 30, creates her own unique print designs for each collection and patches together recycled fabrics, foil printing over them to give them a new lease of life. When purchasing fabrics, she ensures they're eco or recycled, and all her collections are designed and made in England. “I bought lots of old men’s hounds tooth blazers from charity shops and unpicked the seams and patch worked them back together to make some of the fabric for pieces in my collection,” she says. “It’s so important to be doing what you can.” It was Caroline’s sustainable approach to her graduate collection, The Golden Era of The Working Girl – inspired by the 1980s film, portraying power dressing at its finest – which led to a collaboration with Sarah Barrett Luxury Organic salon in Winchester. The business has a focus on using eco-friendly products for hair, and contacted Caroline after seeing her work at the university. Following the event’s success, Caroline contacted The Princes Trust, from who she received a grant and help from a mentor, to set up her own brand. “I’ve done an Exploring Enterprise course, and they’re just helping me until I launch,” she explains. “They’ve given me a grant to help launch my website and once I launch I can get a business loan if I want to. But the mentor has been helpful because I speak to them once a week to see where I’m at. They have links to industry as well.” The Princes Trust is not the only organisation that sees potential in Caroline’s work. Her final collection was one of just six from the university to be selected by the prestigious British Fashion Council, who showcased a preview of the designs. She appears destined for success, but Caroline’s fashion career almost didn’t happen. “It was something I was really interested in – ever since I was a child, I’ve always loved to dress up and style myself,” she remembers, “so I’ve always had that interest in fashion. But when I left school I studied IT, I was going to do web design. “I ended up going travelling for two years – Australia, New Zealand and Asia. I saw fashion in different cultures and that’s what inspired me to study fashion when I came home. I studied as a mature student – I’m 30 now. I’m so glad I made that decision.” For now, Caroline is focused on the brand launch at the end of the year, with customers able to pre-order items from her website for planned delivery in December. I’m still working three or four days a week as well as doing the brand. Hopefully it will become my sole income and I can have my own proper studio. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

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