Welcome to “Invading Your Space,” FU’s new, ongoing series in which we visually and verbally explore the workplaces, studios, and other sexy dwellings of the most talented humans in fashion and beyond.
New York and yours truly are just beginning to get acquainted with Holly Jovenall’s Billy, which is understandable, seeing as Fall 2017 marked the stylist’s first official collection of altered vintage duds and vintage-inspired menswear. However, in Lala Land, where I ventured this weekend, the brand has been buzzing for a while. Perhaps that’s because Jovenall is such a West Coast star. Kicking off her career as a shop assistant at Kitson, Jovenall quickly became creative director and started styling private clients, who liked the vintage clothing she sourced and wore herself. “Well, the vintage happened because I’ve always worn it,” she explained, leaning on the desk of her downtown L.A. studio in skinny black jeans and a worn white tee over a long-sleeved black one. “I’m from the East Coast, on a horse ranch, and it’s just part of the lifestyle there to wear old tees, or wear my dad’s tees—he’s a construction worker, so his shirts had really cool holes.” I interrupted briefly to repeat the words “really cool holes” because that sentiment is one of a million reasons Jovenall and Billy are cooler than you. She continued, “So then, the clients would want to buy my t-shirts, or they’d want to buy my vintage varsity jacket. That’s really how it started.”
So where does she find all these vintage treasures? “I’m pretty strategic,” she said (because she’s a boss). “I really only do the Rose Bowl [a flea market in L.A.], and then I have private appointments with two Japanese guys. One of them is kind of my mentor, and I’ve worked with him for a little over five years. He knows how picky I am with my vintage, so I’ll send him a project, like this capsule of 20 vintage white tees I’m working on, but it takes months because he’ll go through his collection, bring like, 50 back from Japan, and I’ll go through those, and I’ll just take two of the best.” She gestured toward a huge industrial laundry cart in the middle of the studio. We walked over to take a look inside—and there they were. To anyone other than a hawk-eyed vintage connoisseur like Jovenall, these would just look like old, white t-shirts and, okay, sure, that’s exactly what they are, but to Jovenall, they are exquisite. “They’re all different. There are some lighter-weight ones that are early ’70s, and then there’s some of the smaller necklines that are ’50s and ’60s, some Hanes, and these smaller tees, and here’s some V-necks. Oh! And these light tissue-type tees, these are my favorite.” I’ve never been so excited over a bag of old white t-shirts in my life—the patination on each gave them a visually and tangibly rich history I’d otherwise have overlooked entirely.