I recently had the pleasure of meeting Alana Oates and was instantly inspired by her style. Her personal style is cool and eclectic in a very effortless way that says, I really did wake up like this. While her relaxed-fitted jumpsuit and silk printed bomber jacket was just about the coolest #bumpstyle I've seen (yep, she's expecting), it was her shoes I noticed first. She wore a vibrant purple silk mule that I would later find out was a Babouche, a Turkish or Moroccan slipper with no heel. It was no surprise that she is a seasoned shoe designer and the owner of Llani, a globally-inspired shoe collection. You may have seen her shoes on The Zoe Report or InSTYLE Magazine.
So, of course, I had to buy a pair! I opted for the Cheetah Babouche because I can’t deny an animal print done right. I would later find out that I was wearing my Llani’s exactly how Alana intended them to be worn - for comfort and glam inside the home and major style outside of the home. They have become the shoes I throw in my bag to wear while walking to and from appointments in the city and the shoes I look forward to slipping on when I get home from a long day.
If your need a pair too, use code TROUSSEAU_STYLE15 for 15% off!
But enough about me, let’s hear from Alana…
LH : Alana, tell us more about the early days and how you came up with the idea for Llani.
AO : I launched Llani in Sept 2016, upon leaving a corporate design position in San Francisco. I wanted to get back to the East Coast and after 8 years working for large companies, I was itching to do my own thing. I began with the idea of ‘shoes that feel like home’. I was working from home but also traveling a lot when I was conceptualizing Llani. I found myself opting for easy slides that could go from day to night, from airplane to hotel, from office to weekend. I loved creating embellished motifs and I knew my partners in India could do this like no one else. The embellishments gave the collection an added sense of luxury and femininity which was exactly what I was aiming for. A little glam with a global vibe.
LH : What is your design process? What inspires you?
AO : I usually start out a season or new collection with a muse. I’m constantly collecting imagery from books, magazines, IG, and Pinterest. I’ll start compiling all of those images on a mood board and see what it looks like narrowed down. Sometimes the muse emerges organically! Once I have the inspo nailed down, the designs and sketches all come from there. I know I’m on to something if I feel like the ideas are flowing out of me.
LH : Where do you source your gorgeous fabrics?
AO : With the exception of our Clara Collection, which was made from vintage silk gifted to me from my great aunt, all of our styles are leather or suede based and we embellish on top of that. When I’m in India, my first full day is usually spent at the trim markets to pull ideas for colors and motifs. All of our embellishments — beading, trims, and motifs, are delicately created by hand. Many of the techniques we use are traditional in India and can not be replicated anywhere else in the world.
LH : Is there one pair of Llani shoes that completely embodies your personal style?
AO : It’s almost impossible to play favorites, but I would have to say our embellished room slide, which also happens to be our best seller. This style is the perfect mix of everything I would want in a shoe- a little retro, a little glam, a bit of shine, a beautiful neutral color, and can be, and have been, worn with just about everything from vintage Levi’s to a wedding gown!
LH : Tell us more about your personal style? Do you fall into one style category or prefer to experiment?
AO : I like to experiment, but I’m always these three things: feminine, eclectic, glam (as borrowed from your Inside Style Workshop!). I feel like as I come into my own style I like to try trends if they interest me, but I’m not chasing them. I’m also more confident to repeat outfits- something I swore off in my 20’s. If you find something that works- do it!
LH : How has your personal style evolved since starting Llani?
AO : Travel has been very influential in my style evolution. Not only needing to be able to pack a chic wardrobe on a whim (like I said- no shame in outfit repeating!) but also the pieces I have collected from traveling, give a sense of depth to my wardrobe. I now look for items made from finer natural fabrics like silk and linen because I know they will always be comfortable and look good.
LH : Where are your favorite places to shop?
AO : In Philly, my favorite spots are Vestige, Meadowsweet Mercantile, & Vagabond. I wear and buy a lot of vintage and style it with higher end classic pieces.
LH : Ok, my favorite question, what city best captures the essence of your personal style?
AO : Jaipur is my perfect style city! It’s is a mecca for handicrafts, incredible markets, and street vendors. The city itself is very traditional, very royal, then nestled inside are beautiful hidden design gems like Bar Palladio designed by Marie Anne Oudejans (whose private residence is also so stunning), SUJAN Rajmahal, and Taj Rambuaugh Palace. I love the juxtaposition of the streets and traditional crafts paired with the high design. It’s so much like how I style myself.
Thank you for sharing your style story with us, Alana! All photos are courtesey of llanishoes.com.