Get on the night train to Cassis. You’re with your best friends and find a wonderful, very cheap, very French hotel overlooking the port. You sit at your little balcony table drinking wine and making super 8 movies and probably talking inappropriately about boys the whole time. You go to the same café every morning to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes in the sun, even though you don’t smoke. In the evening, walking along wearing the Margrith dress, you pass a beautiful garden and hear the sounds of a party that you and your friends ask to join and are welcomed to. After dancing and being flirted with too much until too late, it’s time to leave. A kind partygoer drives you back to your hotel, while you and your friends laugh in the back and sing at the moon.
The feeling of Night Train to Cassis is innocence, pure fun, the color white in the sunlight, white houses in Greece, sun bleached towels, putting lemon in your friends’ hair to "bleach" it, never remembering to drink enough water.
The fabrics are only light cotton and silk. Nina Egli designed the prints herself for the first time, making this collection feel even more personal and very close to her heart. The Phone print, the Boat All Over print and the Crystal All Over print are applied to white cotton separates: light, soft blouses worn with shorts in the same print or mixed, giving each outfit a dreamy, fun uniform feel. The Love patchwork is inspired by a patchwork the designer made as a child – it’s south of France meets lady of the canyon: dreamy, happy and definitely naughty. The Emily Bikini is skimpy but can still work as an outfit as you can wear the bra and the shorts out if you dare. It's a light, happy best friends collection and it’s a collection to fall in love to.
The Fall/Winter 12 collection Phone Home is the most comprehensive yet from Family Affairs: with knitwear, hand knitted socks and our first ever bag, the perfectly round Alcudia (made of goat nappa leather). All the pieces in Phone Home are modern with a sense of nostalgia – you feel at home in them wherever you end up being. The feeling of the collection is both mad and cozy: a grown up school look: it may be girly but it’s not dressing like a little girl.
As an adult you can now see, understand and appreciate the strangeness of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; the darkness of suburbia as represented in the film E.T. But having been a young child growing up in that era, the saturated colours and animal prints used in Phone Home are comforting and nostalgic: the horse print Tennenbaum dress, lion print Moonstruck dress, alpine striped knit Budapest leggings, the red and green striped wool of the Gabriel sweater, the mustard faux suede Yorinde dress, rust knitted Serrano dress, the green chenille Frenchie sweater, the indigo skirt in blue faux suede. The cozy hand knitted striped mustard and black Trudi socks are named after the designer’s adopted grandmother, who used to knit her socks every birthday and Christmas, which are still much treasured.
Shapes are cozy and/or sexy to allow both extremes to exist in one look. Along with the ribbed cable knits and nostalgic prints are items like the rust knit Serrano dress and the navy cashmere wool Bandito skirt – a slim high waisted pencil skirt. The floor-sweeping Stargazer dress in midnight blue washed silk and the long faux suede paneled Indigo skirt add some languid glamour. There are short tunic shapes to be worn with the knitted ribbed or striped leggings and a key item is the very flirty short, paneled navy Frankie skirt.
Each piece is reminiscent of the way when you were a child you’d have special favorite things to wear, that you might keep in a secret drawer or suitcase and would wear over and over again. No one but you knew how important those things were to you, or why you were so attached to certain items, but they made you feel safe and protected.
There’s a fishing village on a Greek Island, where tourism is on a very small scale. Modest family owned tavernas line the harbor, where the little fishing boats that brought in your dinner are painted by hand, moored here and there in the water. You hire a bicycle with a basket to get to the market to wander around and choose fresh provisions and to cycle to the beach where there are faded striped parasols for hire, all identical. You leave the bicycle at the bottom of the hill and climb up steps to your clean, whitewashed apartment – simple and airy with one potted geranium outside the door - rented for the whole summer. The nighttime entertainment is innocent fun – a discotheque that plays out of date music that you happily slow dance to with your love, before you walk barefooted along the promenade, carrying your espadrilles in one hand with a row of lights swaying above.
This is the wardrobe of that summer. The fabrics are the starting point for Les Vacances, which are a happy accident of cotton coral printed zebras, blue sailor stripes and patchwork shirting stripes, a touch of red, some white and black ocelot spots and a print of soft hand drawn leaves and paintings. The fabrics are chosen by instinct, then added and subtracted until the final selection is arrived at. Each piece of clothing is easy enough to throw on – airy, cool, light pieces that aren’t fussy, but stay playful by mixing separates in different prints, in lots of combinations for endless options. The Adamo dress is the most structured look of Les Vacances: light military blue with a sailor collar and navy trim. Most of the pieces have button down fastenings or can be pulled on without a thought. Dresses for different moods are accompanied by a piece of everything: some patchwork Johnny pants, striped Jenny slip shorts, short full patchwork Cindy skirt, button down ocelot print Roxanne skirt. The patchwork shirting Le Progres jacket is the only one necessary. The Annie shirt in red crepe is demure, and the Banana Split shirt proves that zebras really do go with everything.
Meteorite Dream, the Fall/Winter 11 collection from Toujours Toi & Family Affairs is about the wearer. In many respects it is a breakthrough in the evolution of Family Affairs; reflecting an internal shift towards a new kind of youthful maturity. The designer Nina Egli started by thinking of what she wanted to wear and live in and what her friends would want to wear and treasure. Stripped bare and minimal, all the inspirations and poetry are still there, but abstracted and pushed forward into something new. Every piece is true to this idea of living your life in the clothes.
London is a strong inspiration: Misty mornings, the paper cut shapes of winter, tree branches at dawn, walking home in the Thames jacket looking forward to a hot cup of English breakfast tea and biscuits. Walks on ice cold beaches in Scotland, wrapped up in the heavy navy wool Raphael coat clutching a book of Celtic fairytales, inspired by the depth and devotion of Raphael’s paintings.
On moonless nights, curled up in a cosy nook on a velvet couch wearing the blue checked Normandie skirt, dreaming of the dry grasses of Normandy: horse riding, roasting chestnuts on the fire. Reading Baudelaire and William Blake in the Golden Letter skirt with a cat curled up beside you, antique persian rugs layered underfoot. Thinking about the Brontë sisters writing poetry in a distant house in the silk velvet Brontë dress. Returning to far away childhood dreams with the striped Million Miles dresses and the Finding Nemo blue of the Dreamland jacket.
The shapes are elegant and minimal, without need of much adornment. Colors are strong, not muted, but elegant. The fabrics have been chosen to give texture and character to each piece: lurex stripes, tiny white stars printed on navy voile, the depth of navy wool, blue wool checks, black silk velvet, red and green cotton tartan, tobacco wool, red and blue wool checks, navy satin, deep blue chenille and simple gold buttons.
For the spring summer 11 collection Ocean Lemonade, the Toujours Toi & Family Affairs heroine is exploring the South of France with her old battered suitcase. She is feisty rather than sweet and a little defiant – feminine, but not girly. She often doesn’t brush her hair. She goes wherever she finds the carefree pleasures of summer on dusty back roads scented with lavender: picking up tomatoes, olive oil, honey soaps. She collects feathers, picks cornflowers and wildflowers to put in a jar on a scrubbed wooden table. She makes lemonade in a glass jar, uses whatever she has to hand and freestyle bakes something delicious, ties it up in a picnic knapsack and heads to the beach, singing along to Jonathan Richman: “That Summer Feeling: Memory comes taunting, you pick these things apart they're not that appealing, you put them together and you'll get this certain feeling, and that summer feeling is gonna haunt you one day in your life…”
Spreading out a colorful beach towel, she stays until night falls, watching the stars, drinking rosé and eating raspberries. Wherever she lands, people want to invite her to their kitsch parties, in villas with chandeliers and colorful cocktails out on the balcony. True Blue by Madonna wafts along on the air and a crappy transistor radio crackles with sentimental Italian songs. Her dancing shoes are thrown in the old suitcase, and she’s on the night train to Bari just as everyone realizes she’s not there anymore.
The collection is made up of everything our heroine would need to put in the old suitcase on her travels: the exactly right mix of polka dots, exotic florals, lace, sheer, black, blue and pink. The Arles floral skirt for walking along dusty lavender scented roads, The Milky Way or Room With a View dress in black silk chiffon with polka dots for other people’s parties, the short babydoll lace of the Science of Sleep dress and the most exuberant expression of summer freedom in the Strawberry Fields jumpsuit, which comes in a heavy crepe, searched for far and wide for its Biba/Ossie Clark quality that drapes perfectly.
All the fabrics in the spring/summer 11 collection are those that feel good and have the right weight and movement. Silk blends are used for the exotic flower prints; there is also silk chiffon, heavy crepe, and cotton twill to give the more structured pieces the feeling of soft denim.
The fall winter 10 collection is darkly romantic and a little mystical with a muted colour palette; inspired by the snow-covered valleys seen in Roman Polanski’s 1967 film “Fearless Vampire Killers”. The name Moon River comes, of course, from the song of the same name:
“Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker, wherever you're going I'm going your way. Two drifters, off to see the world, there’s such a lot of world to see…”
The heroine of Moon River is holed up in a mountain house made of wood - simple and honest, in a pristinely beautiful setting with snow and mountains all around. Sitting at the kitchen table with a fire going, tea and cake and a fat cat by her side, reflecting on the ocean voyages she’s taken and enjoying the peace and beauty of being in nature.
Her wardrobe reflects each place and moment: the sea represented by the Overboard coat, Siren Song dress, then the Homeward dress and the mountains, the Willow shirt, Juniper jacket and Snow and Honey dress.
Fluid fabrics: chiffon, crepe, gabardine and jersey are mixed with solid pieces in wool, twill and velvet. The Gypsy Secret skirt and Darling dress in floral print chiffon on a black background stand out as the dreamiest looks, completing the collection.
Toujours Toi & Family Affairs is now manufactured in its hometown of New York, giving the production an extra edge of control and detail.
Coup de Foudre is the name of the spring summer 2010 collection from Toujours Toi & Family Affairs. Coup de Foudre means a sudden, intense feeling of love or quite literally, a bolt of lightning. The feeling of being struck down by love, everything is heightened and colors are saturated in the heat of a hazy summer’s day.
Evoking the decadence of the late seventies, Roxy Music, louche elegance. Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan at Gatsby’s garden party – everyone dressed in linen on a golden afternoon. The bold colors of Godard’s Pierrot le Fou and Une Femme est Une Femme translate into the fevered hothouse flower colors cut in simple, unfussy shapes. Inspired by vacation in the long, hot days of high summer.
The Avalon dress – a black cotton voile maxi sundress, evokes the thirties via the seventies. The easy elegance of the Guinevere jumpsuit in leopard or blue rose printed silk. Feminine button down dresses paired with the masculine linen Northfork jacket. The yellow woven cube cotton gives the otherwise sweet Cecilia and Crimson and Clover dresses a graphic element. Natural fabrics – linen takes on more character as you wear it - and the lightest weight silk, poplin and voile for wafting around in the heat.
The name Every Day is Like Sunday comes from the Morrissey song, evoking feelings of melancholy, wandering, ennui, (the lyrics: every day is silent and grey; how I didn’t wish I was not here) but within that, a feeling of contentment. Other inspirations in the mix include listening to favourite records late at home on a Sunday, Annie Hall in the Hamptons, the sad beauty of fall, strolling through Paris in the rain with your best friend really tired but happy… together these references merge to set the feel of the fall/winter 09 collection.
These translate into the evocatively named Hollywood Movie dress in black and white flannel checks, an elegant ‘70s button down shape with a hit of poppy red corduroy in the details; the dirty violet colour of the velvet Ride on Time pants and the Play With Fire dress, the Sweet Surrender blouse and Baby You’re a Star dress with peter pan collar in cream chiffon sprinkled with stars.
Clothes perfect for mooching around on a rainy, lazy Sunday afternoon.
Together, Nina and Kaya Egli are Family Affairs. A mother and daughter, they draw on their combined experience in fashion and design. Kaya Egli opened her first store selling her own designs and vintage clothing at the age of 20. She went on to become the in house designer for The Beatles iconic Apple shop in London.
Nina Egli, who had already started her jewelry line Toujours Toi, made a natural progression into ready to wear, and a transatlantic design partnership evolved; with Nina based in New York and Kaya in Switzerland.
From New York, Nina gathers and sends packages of visual inspiration: essence, fabrics, colours, and shapes, across the seas to Kaya and the process begins to take shape. Then, delving into Kaya’s archives they pull designs, which they adjust and refine to create the bone structure of each piece.
In 2002, when Nina Egli was studying acting at The Lee Strasberg Institute in New York, she began to make jewelry. Not content to be a side project, Toujours Toi gradually took on a life of its own; a happy state of affairs which Nina describes as sharing her life with “a demanding, wonderful, strange, funny and spoiled child.”
A Zurich, Switzerland native, Nina now works from a studio in Brooklyn. All the pieces are handmade either in New York or Zurich.
The ideas for each of the 11 collections come from the artful combination of references, which put together make something unique. The True Romance collection is inspired by hopeless romantics and love letters - but also by sailors and has a healthy dose of sentimentality and pessimism. There is a talismanic element to many of the pieces - symbols such as hearts, anchors and animals have a protective element or are good luck charms. In Fall 09’s Follow Me There collection, equestrian chic meets Madonna’s Like A Virgin. The result unites religious blessing charms and lucky horseshoes to charming effect.
Some collections have a darker feel, such as Giulietta degli Spiriti; inspired by dark, Scandinavian nights, the mysterious ballroom dancing in Polanski’s Dance of the Vampires and ghosts visiting Giulietta Masina inthe Fellini film the collection’s name is taken from. Others, like Sugar Garden, are pure candy to indulge your inner child with. Ultimately, the core of Toujours Toi is always creativity and fun.
In 2008, Nina and her mum Kaya expanded the Toujours Toi universe with the launch of the apparel line Toujours Toi-Family Affairs.