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Rachel Pally's Cali cool maxi dresses have been spotted on celebrities of every caliber—from Angelina Jolie to Jessica Simpson to Rachel Bilson—but it was a stint at a university costume department and a chance encounter in DTLA's Chinatown that sparked the beginning of her eponymous basics brand. The Sherman Oaks-raised designer had dabbled in everything from dance to art to music during her youth and went on to graduate from UC Berkeley, where she earned degrees in cultural geography and dance.
"I was making these flowy, stretchy costumes [at Berkeley's costume shop] and I loved it," Pally says. "I got myself a cheap sewing machine and I just started making clothes for my girlfriends and myself." During a summer visit home in her senior year, Pally paid a visit to a shop called Sling Ting on the then-buzzy Chung King Road, where her self-made dress caught the eye of store owner Stacey Ernsdorf. "She said, 'Do you have more?' and I said, 'I have my laundry in the car, do you want to see it?'" Pally remembers.
"I was home from Berkeley, so of course you bring home all your laundry to your parents house," Pally recalls. "She said, 'You know, you really should give this a try.' I was a senior in college, I didn't really have a plan, so I did. I gave it a try!"
Since founding her eponymous label of super-soft women's apparel in 2002, the ace advice giver and master dinner party host has gone on expand her collection to her plus-size White Label line, maternity clothing and baby merch. We caught up with the Cali-raised designer (and new mom!) over sips from Pressed Brothers Juicery at Grand Central Market, not far from her sample sale-happy Downtown studio.
We heard you love the original 90210. Who's your favorite character?
"Oh my god, I haven't watched since high school."
Who did you most identify with?
"None of them! Oh my god, I didn't identify with any of them, that's why I loved it!"
Which character would you love to meet in real life?
"Dylan, for sure! Such a babe."
What's your good luck charm?
My husband. He's totally my good luck charm! Life just has gotten better since I've been with him. I'm assuming that it has to do with him."
Favorite thirst quencher?
"Losing people close to me. It's not like an amusing answer but, ugh. And as a mother, oh my god…okay, next question!"
Best meal you've ever cooked?
"I would say a Moroccan chicken tagine. But [my husband] thought it was disgusting! He'd rather eat a meat sauce that I've cooked for two days. I made this incredible meal with preserved lemons and olives […] Iwas so proud of it and it was delicious and he thought it was so gross. I'm a much better baker."
First thing you think of after you wake up?
"'Is my son awake?' He's the first think I think about in the morning. It's crazy, I can hear him crying from here."
Most spontaneous thing you've ever done?
"We just bought a house. We weren't looking for a house and we saw it once, and put in an offer, and we didn't even know if we could afford it. So we just spontaneously bought a house and it's a good thing it all worked out."
What's your spirit animal?
"I guess I'm a lion. That's the easiest answer because I'm a Leo, but I'm such a lion. I'm strong-willed and sharp and adventurous and powerful, but I'm also like a mama. I can lick my wounds and lick someone else's. I keep everyone groomed in a non-literal way."
Beauty product you can't live without?
"Coconut oil. I use it on everything, I love it. In my hair, on my face…you can swish it around in your mouth for your teeth…but I can't stand having it in my mouth for 20 minutes."
Best advice you've ever received?
"There's no point in freaking out if you can't fix something. You just gotta go with it. If there's something that can be done to solve a problem, then solve it. If there isn't something that can be done, get over it."
And who gave you those wise words of wisdom?
"I think my dad."
Do you have a nickname?
"My friend Rebecca calls me 'The Great Manifester,' because I feel like in my life when I set my sights on something or visualize something, I'm able to manifest it for myself."
That's an awesome title.
"Yeah! It kinda makes me seem a little intimidating, and clearly I'm not."
Beach or the desert?
"The beach. The beach and the mountains."
Favorite hidden gem in LA?
"I'm kinda loving being here [at Grand Central Market] right now, this is pretty awesome! I really love this right here. I also love doing the hike at Mt. Baldy, it's out of town, it's like 45 minutes out, but it's so magical and it's completely different from the hikes in town. There's this weird old kinda tacky lodge that's been there forever, you can do this big hike and sit down and have a pitcher of beer on this back patio. It's kinda tacky and old and not that cool anymore, but it's so cool. I think that getting out of town to take an insane hike is so worth it, it's so beautiful."
· Rachel Pally [Official Site]
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