How John Galliano Sparked Sally LaPointe’s Interest in Fashion

by Ashley Baker

With a thriving business, a slew of celebrity super fans, and a brand-spanking-new e-commerce site, the delightful Sally LaPointe is one of New York Fashion Week’s shiniest stars.

What were you like as a kid growing up in Marblehead, Massachusetts?
[Laughs] Marblehead is a very small town. I was an artist — I was classically trained in oil paints by the time I was, like, 4, because I had this need for a creative outlet. I’m thankful to my parents for enrolling me in a bunch of art classes and courses. It wasn’t until I got to Rhode Island and looked at RISD’s program that I decided I wanted to make my career in fashion.

Who were some of the first fashion designers whose work really resonated with you?
I knew nothing about fashion when I got to college, and one of my first projects at RISD was to pick a fashion designer’s name out of a hat. I got John Galliano, and I said to my professor, “I have no idea who this is!” After I researched his work, it was an explosion in my mind — he was able to put everything out there and create a beautiful story. He made [fashion] about his art, not just about a piece of clothing. It was inspiring.

You have a notoriously diverse group of fans. Can you tell us a little bit about the women you design for?
I appreciate you saying that — it’s a big compliment! We always say that we’re age-inclusive and size-inclusive — we don’t ever want to alienate anyone, or design for a specific type of person. We’ve had fans who are super young, and those who are a bit more mature, and it’s a reflection of myself and the way that I like to dress.

How do you describe your aesthetic?
Cool, easy, luxe. I don’t like clothes that are too complicated. If you go into a dressing room and can’t figure it out, or it makes you sweat, or it’s uncomfortable… we’re all running around and working a lot, so clothes need to be easy. The luxurious part of fashion is really important to us — we make sure to have really nice fabrics, many of which have stretch in them, and we add embellishments and fur. I’m a uniform dresser. Unless I’m going to an event, I wear our blazer, dress shirt, and pants every day with sneakers.

You’ve been working with Sarah Adelson, your CEO, since the beginning of your career. Why do you two get on so well?
Well, we were best friends at RISD, and we kind of had a similar work ethic when we were there. We got up early, got our stuff done, worked really hard, and then put it away. Everyone said, “Do not go into business with your best friend,” but we said, “This is what we’re doing!” Sarah is the complete opposite of me — she loves the numbers, the merchandising, the production end of the business, and the operations. I stick to the creative. It’s been an amazing partnership; we have defined roles. Hands down, I could not have done this without her.

What are your best tips for working with friends?
You have to be brutally honest. People will ask, “Do you guys ever fight?” and we say, “Of course!” We’re able to have a respectful dialogue, and we don’t make it personal. At the end of the day, it’s just a business, and we’re both trying to achieve the same goal.

How large is your operation these days?
Last week, we sat down for a company meeting, and I looked around the table and couldn’t believe that we have nine people on the team now! It’s still somewhat of a small operation, but it’s grown quickly for us in the past year or two. I got some great advice at the beginning my career: Build your A-team. Every single person on our team is an A.

Bergdorf ’s Linda Fargo was one of your earliest supporters. How did she come into the fold?
I cherish that relationship with Bergdorf Goodman so much — they saw something and took a chance on us really early on. When Linda came to the show, she came backstage, shook my hand, held on to it, and said, “Great job!” I was floored. They worked with us really closely; in the beginning, we were still trying to figure out who our customer was. They’ve been able to help us shape all that, and I’m so grateful.

Where is the brand represented internationally?
Net-a-Porter, Harvey Nichols, Neiman Marcus, and Holt Renfrew — we’ve wanted every expansion to be organic, and these partnerships are the ones we’ve waited for. We’re really excited that the product will be out there a lot more.

High-profile fans like Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez have really helped with that, right?
The relationships with those women have happened organically, and they have been a great surprise. They come to us because they like the clothes and wear them — our clients are anyone from Kendall Jenner to Lady Gaga to Michelle Obama. Working with them has really taught me a lot.

Outside of fashion, how do you spend your downtime?
I have a home in the Catskills where I can kind of remove myself a little bit. Whenever I have free time, I like to distance myself a little bit. It’s an escape mechanism. I really love Japanese food and reading books about true crime!

When you launched your brand, did you expect to end up in a place like this?
You know, I did. I always wanted to do my own thing, whatever that meant. If I were to look back and tell my 15-year-old self that I’d be doing some of the stuff I’m doing today, I’d be pretty excited.

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