clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How A New LA Label Is Making Shoulderless Shirting Work From The Office to Happy Hour

circus royalty shoulderless blouse Photo: Circus Royalty

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Anyone who clocks in at an office (and a stylish one, at that) will tell you that the work day doesn’t always start at the desk — rather, the first big decision of the day happens with the wardrobe. Factor in finding a day-to-night piece that won’t cost a paycheck and fits into your conscious closet and you’ve got a real conundrum.

Enter Circus Royalty, a new LA label that’s striking a balance between elevated office staples and luxury eveningwear. Launched just last year, the locally-produced brand’s debut collection is comprised of pieces perfect for the fashionable professional with an equally successful social life: think shoulderless shirting made with breathable taffeta, flowy sleeveless tops with frayed-yet-refined hems, asymmetrical one-shoulder tops that can be side-tied or left loose, and boatneck collared blouses fit for modern day Jane Birkins ($230 to $360).

The Downtown-based brand was founded by Westwood-bred sisters Jennifer and Nicole Nosratian, who fantasized about making fashion a family business. After unexpected turmoil in her personal life, Jennifer (a former publicist who previously worked for David Yurman, James Perse, and Gucci) and her sister (a real estate attorney by day) realized it was time to turn their daydreams into reality.

Circus Royalty showroom

For fall, the brand will release another round of refined wardrobe essentials, like crushed velvet bodysuits and draped blouses with lace paneling.

We sat down with the stylish design duo at their DTLA studio (which is open for appointments Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 4pm), where we discovered the story behind Circus Royalty’s name, the unapologetically sexy star they’d love to dress, and more.

You both were well into your professional careers when you launched Circus Royalty. What inspired that move?

Jennifer: Sometimes we put our own dreams aside because easier things come along, like when the David Yurman position came along. [Then I made a decision that] disrupted my entire life. That was the moment that I was like, “This is what I always wanted to do, why have I delayed it?”

Nicole: I love what I do but it’s very different from fashion. Not as creative, it’s very logical, rational…So for me, it was very just something that I always wanted to do and the timing was right. We took a leap of faith [and said “It’s time, let’s do this.”

What was the idea behind the brand’s name?

Jennifer: We were going for juxtaposition; I’ve been in PR, she’s been an attorney, which are very different. I’m much more calm, she’s much more social.

In ancient Rome, they would distract the commoners by [throwing on] a circus. [...] We’re very connected to LA; it’s very Hollywood; it’s very romanticized. You have Hollywood and awards season and the weather’s always sunny. We’re always sort of distracted by this circus around us. The same way they would distract them with the circus, we feel like the city itself is a circus.

Photo: Circus Royalty

What’s the inspiration behind the line?

Nicole: Both being young professionals and having day jobs, wanting to look good but wanting to go out afterwards and go to happy hour or a cocktail party or dinner with friends and still being appropriate. For example, I’ll go to work wearing this blouse and I can go straight to dinner. We felt there was a gap in the market for clothing that you could wear day or night. Sophisticated, chic, and...

Jennifer: ...Not fast fashion. For me, especially we’re involved with production, we manufacture here, and we know our production teams very well. I’ve watched a lot of movies like True Cost — you have to take that into consideration. There is all this fast fashion out there but there is a reason why that shirt is only $5. We should question that I think as a consumer.

Jennifer and Nicole Nosratian, founders of Circus Royalty Los Angeles
Sisters and founders Jennifer and Nicole Nosratian.

What else has been a priority in designing the line?

Jennifer: One thing that’s been really important to us is we know all of our vendors. We know them really well, we work with them really closely and we want to make sure when our pieces come out, it’s not something that’s done somewhere overseas where the conditions aren’t great and making sure that it’s not.

You already have quite the Instagram following. How has it helped build your brand?

Jennifer: Instagram has been our greatest vehicle so far, of course [besides] friends and family. We had a girl from Israel reach out to us. Monica Rose who dresses Kendall and Kylie [Jenner] found us.

Nicole: She found us on Instagram before we had a website.

Jennifer: The one thing people say is “I’m obsessed.” We get a lot of Instagram direct messages...it’s really exciting because we’ve had this idea for so many years.

Photo: Circus Royalty

Who would you love to see wearing your pieces?

Jennifer: Gigi Hadid. Olivia Palermo; she’s someone who’s a perfect example of someone who always looks good. She’s figured out a perfect balance.

Nicole: Emily Ratajkowski. I love her sex appeal.