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The New Accessories Brand Every Fashion Editor Adores

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Photo: Yvan Fabing
Your phone case says a lot about you. Every time I take a call, open an email or scroll through Instagram in public, I'm reminded of the pink and purple, glittery, unicorn-covered monstrosity I own. Not exactly the image of sophistication. Thank god, then, for super-stylists and creative partners Charlotte Stockdale and Katie Lyall, who have just launched the luxury accessories brand you never realised you needed.

CHAOS
offers a new breed of premium accessories, including initialised leather phone cases, gold-plated charms, leather luggage tags and suitcase straps that are as covetable as they are functional. CHAOS perfectly fills the gap in the market for lifestyle pieces that are playful but thoughtfully made, durable but directional – available exclusively now at Matches Fashion.

If you're unfamiliar with Stockdale and Lyall, they're the dynamic (and inseparable) duo that everyone in fashion has on speed-dial, whether it's Karl Lagerfeld, whom they work with at Fendi, Dasha Zhukova, the founder of Garage magazine (where they also work) or Cara Delevingne and Margot Robbie, who wore matching custom-made CHAOS navy tracksuits for the London premiere of Suicide Squad.

Charlotte and Katie invited us to CHAOS HQ to talk about working on the Victoria's Secret shows for 10 years, learning from Karl Lagerfeld and setting up their own brand.
Photo: Alexander Kent
Why did it feel like the right time to launch an accessories brand together? What was it in response to?
Charlotte Stockdale: It was a long, slow burner actually. I started doing Victoria’s Secret in about 2000 and Katie started working with me just after. Towards the last five years we got really carried away and just loved doing it and we realised we loved to make things. The wonderful thing about that show is the costumes are not produced so we had a lot of fun and a lot of freedom. We’ve been working with brands over the years and we really enjoy making things; we enjoy the satisfaction of succeeding in something beautiful. We also work really hard and travel a lot and it was back in the days of VS that I would constantly lose my phone under a bunch of fabric, feathers or bras. So we’d tie our phones to ribbons and hang them around our necks. We thought, shall we just make something for ourselves that’s nice? So we made a zip [lanyard] ourselves a couple of years ago that was not as beautiful as these now but it was plastic with a rubber end. We started wearing it and we had about 1,000 made and gave them to people.

Katie Lyall: That was two years ago and there are still people in my life who are still using them.

Charlotte: It was an extraordinary range of people. Some of [Patrick] Demarchelier’s assistants used them for their light meters; Katie’s friend’s mum who is a matron at the London Hospital; a lot of the Fendi team. Then we thought, you know what, we’ve talked a lot over the years about doing our own thing. We’re not going to stop doing the other things like working with Fendi and at Garage.

Katie: There are really fun cases and then there are gorgeous, expensive cases that are quite simple but there isn’t that in-between that is fun and you can add some personality to it and make it your own in the way that people use stickers on their notebook or handbag.

Charlotte: We felt that this whole category of tech hadn’t been translated in a luxury way. There’s some really cool stuff but that idea of approaching it like a leather desk collection had not been explored.

Katie: Next year we’re going to have portable chargers, covered in leather that you can also put your initials on. You can grow a little collection.

Few brands have been able to create fashion tech that is as functional as it is stylish, that can be seamlessly incorporated into our lives. Was it a challenge marrying functionality and style?
Charlotte: We all went into it thinking it would be really easy. We made it with a very, very experienced company in China. They were like, no problem we can do this and then it came back and we were like, that’s not quite luxury.

Katie: In function there are things that can’t be flexible, like making sure all four corners are covered on the best phone cases. So when you drop your phone, obviously it’s not completely proof but it saves it much more. That’s something we really didn’t want to be flexible on and normally they would be open and that’s how you wrap leather around. So the challenge was to make sure it was a leather that was wrappable but still beautiful. You have to love tech and really know your instinctive luxury levels.

What are your plans for expansion with the line?
Katie: The things that excite us are when it’s functional and a lifestyle product. Something we feel we need, that you can’t find anywhere else. Anything from these phone cases and the zips to giant [teddy] bears that are the best chairs in the world. You can snooze on them. Everyone in the office just lives on them.

Charlotte: The phone cases will continue, the zips will evolve into categories apart from phone lanyards. We’ve done the beginnings of a luggage line. Not luggage itself but the garnish. We constantly find ourselves at the airport and you’re tired and you can’t remember which black bag is yours so we made some stickers that are reflective bicycle stickers and we covered our suitcases in them. We started getting stopped in airports by people saying: “Oh my god, your suitcase is amazing, where is it from?” Actually they weren't looking at the suitcase, they were looking at the stickers. We thought, what’s a more premium way to do this and saw luggage straps were really quite utilitarian and not that nice – so we’re making luggage straps.


You both have chaotic schedules. What’s the key to juggling so many different roles, from styling to building a brand?
Katie: The one thing that’s made this possible is that there are two of us. I don’t think either of us would have done this separately.

Charlotte: We’re both really positive people and have spent the past 15 years supporting each other, both in our professional and private lives. There was a moment when we could have parted ways; Katie would have gone on to style or gone into a design house but we just have a lot of fun together. It sounds so frivolous and shallow but when you consider that you’re only alive for however many years... If you can go into work every morning because it’s fun and you’re getting on a plane on a Sunday night and you don’t really want to get on a plane but by the time you’ve got there you’re laughing hysterically, that’s a real gift.

Katie: Also you were styling, I loved styling but never saw myself only styling. It wasn’t my goal so I think by meeting it allowed us both to see the other things we could do together. It got so much bigger.

Personality-wise, what do you both offer to your partnership? How do you differ?
Katie: It’s hard to judge it as we’ve known each other for so long now!

Charlotte: We catch each other. Especially in this industry, which is a very adrenaline-based industry.

For the most part, fashion is an industry dominated by men in the most senior positions. Is that something that frustrates you, or do you not notice the predominance of men?
Charlotte: It is true that when you look at the list of CEOs around the world they are largely male. But I think it will change because the next generation is going to be quite used to seeing their mums working at a high level that requires travel. If you’re talking about those sort of jobs, they are not a 9-5. They’re 24/7 and that is really hard when you start to have children. That’s definitely something that has held women back, coupled with my generation… yes, our mums worked but not in that full-on, high-velocity situation. Now the world is even more global and you have to pick up a call at midnight.

Katie: The way we work and our relationship with other people around us is so all-inclusive, so from our point of view we don’t allow it to be an issue. It wouldn’t occur to me at work because our spirit in the workplace is just kind of all-inclusive.


Who have been the people you’ve met throughout your careers who have influenced and inspired you the most?
Katie: We work with Karl [Lagerfeld] so closely and he is interested in everything – old, new, digital, traditional. Everything. To work alongside him and watch him be so interested by everything is really inspiring and reminds you that new things are really important to embrace.

Charlotte: Working with Silvia Fendi has been incredibly inspiring. Nothing is a no. She’s so open and imaginative. And Dasha [Zhukova].

Katie: They’re all kind of people who live by the same rules. Let’s just try, nothing’s impossible. That’s a good kind of rule to have at work.

Watch the CHAOS film created by director Yvan Fabing featuring CHAOS’ favourite models Anna Ewers, Taylor Hill, Karlie Kloss, Edie Campbell, Binx Walton and many more below.
CHAOS is available at Matches Fashion and the new Accessories Hall at Selfridges.
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