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Born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in São Paolo, Koral Activewear creative director and designer Ilana Kugel dreamed of a career in fashion since she was a child. "One of my best friends' dad used to own two big brands in Brazil; they still have his name. I grew up going to their fashion shows and seeing her dad always traveling. Her older sister went to fashion school, she says. "That was really inspiring to me. I thought, 'If they can do it, then maybe one day I can have my own brand, too."
After earning a degree in design at Faculdade Anhembi Morumi, Kugel worked for a handful of designers and stylists in Brazil before making the big move to the U.S. "My brother's here in LA and my father's in San Diego. Now, LA is my home," she says. The South American-bred fitness fiend worked as a visual merchandiser before creating Koral's swimwear and activewear lines. Now in its second season, Koral Activewear is set to launch its holiday collection at the end of this month.
We sat down with the incredibly friendly designer at Coral Tree Cafe in Brentwood, just a hop and a skip away from her home, and found out everything from her bedtime ritual to her celebrity crush to her proudest career moment and more.
What are you drinking?
"Green tea boba! I love green tea."
Are you a night owl or an early bird?
"Early bird. I changed; I used to be more active at night. It's really productive, I really enjoy the day more."
Favorite comfort meal?
"Brazilian food—It's very simple, but I grew up eating rice, black beans and chicken, but the way the make it…I miss it. It's food from home."
Your house is on fire! What three things do you grab?
"My cats—I'm not going to let them burn! My cell phone and my handbag. At least I can survive with my wallet and my cats."
Celebrity dream date?
"Oh, I'm obsessed with Colin Egglesfield; I always pronounce his last name wrong! I met him in person, he was training with my personal trainer at Equinox, and he was like, 'Oh Ilana, let me introduce you to Colin.' It was like a gift!"
Optimist or pessimist?
"Optimist…super, duper, uber!"
Window seat or aisle seat?
"Nag champa. Since I was really young, I would always burn that incense. I love Stella McCartney's perfume, too."
Favorite season to design for?
"Fall—you can make big pieces like jackets and sweatpants. I like darker colors, so it's easier for me."
What's your before bed ritual?
"Sex. Just kidding! [Laughs] I grew with up my grandmother who's really religious, and I'm Jewish. She taught me this small prayer, [Shema] that takes five seconds, and since I was seven years old I always close my eyes and put my hands together and say my prayer. I'm not that religious, but I'm so used to it so I do it every night."
Career moment you're most proud of?
"Now. All the stores that I've been dreaming of having my line in—like all the really nice department stores—I'm really happy now."
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