Alice + Olivia founder Stacey Bendet runs a tremendously successful clothing line available in hundreds of stores around the globe. She talks about a handful of high energy tracks that drive her designs during her Guest DJ set – from the sexy Bossa Nova of Nouvelle Vague to the high energy punk of The Plasticines. Stacey has expanded her line to include children’s clothes and will be launching a shoe collection in 2011.
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Anne Litt: Hi, I'm Anne Litt and I'm here with fashion designer Stacey Bendet. She founded the tremendously successful clothing line Alice + Olivia which is available in 800 stores around the globe and is a celebrity favorite. Today, we will be playing excerpts that have inspired over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Stacey, so glad to have you here and I see you have brought us a great list of songs. Where do you want to start?
Stacey Bendet: I thought we would start with a song called Bongo Bong by Manu Chao.
SB: That was one once one of my favorite songs when I started Alice + Olivia and I actually used it in the first fashion show we ever did. The show was at the Russian Tea Room and at that time I only made pants. That was how Alice + Olivia got started -- it was a line of just crazy striped pants. So I had the girls walk out topless carrying flowers wearing their fun pants and it was to this song which I thought was really playful and sexy. It was funny because I remember after the show, you know, I mixed it in with a few other things and everyone was asking me for this CD.
AL: Do you always listen to music when you are designing?
SB: Yeah, it's always on. You know I like music that is sort of upbeat and fun because whatever you are listening to it sets your mood, it sets your tone and if your listening to melancholy, slow indie music you’re definitely not in a happy clothing vibe.
AL: I was going to say, your line would be really sad…
SB: I would be doing a lot of black
AL: A lot of black, a lot of gray
That was Bongo Bong by Manu Chao. What's next?
SB: Well, this is sort of a funny story. It's a song I love. I wouldn't call it a design song, but the song “Lola” by The Kinks was more of a childhood song. My Dad used to always play the Kinks and… oh God, somebody is going to cringe at this story….I guess one of my first boyfriends was a summer boyfriend and he was older and he was a lifeguard at the pool in the town I grew up in and…
AL: Isn't that the best kind of summer boyfriend?
SB: Yeah, everyone has that summer that you, sort of, all the sudden grow up. And he used to always play the Kinks and he used to go to the Kinks’ concerts and they would drive, and I wasn't allowed to go. And I just have this memory of him -- this song always reminds me of him -- driving to my house, drunk on his moped, in the middle of the night and waking up to my Dad going, ‘What is that?’ Then looking out the window and there he is, driving around our back yard in circles. And then I wasn't really allowed to hang out with him anymore (laughs) but this song always reminds me of that whole summer, so it’s that age 15 or 16 sort of nostalgia where its the summer you sort of grew up. So…
AL: We just heard The Kinks "Lola". It's one of Stacey Bendet's picks. This is KCRW's Guest DJ Project. I'm Anne Litt. This is great, so what do you have next?
SB: My next song is “Too Drunk to F**K” by Nouvelle Vague. I know we're not supposed to say that on the air. I love that song and it's a remake of the Dead Kennedys' song. I also love a little punk, so I love The Dead Kennedys. I don't know, it’s just one of those sort of like girly, sexy songs.
AL: Well, the way Nouvelle Vague produces their records it's all got this sort of sexy, Bossa Nova kind of vibe to it.
SB: Sexy yes and I always feel like it plays into my clothing. Whenever I hear that song, I'm like ‘okay dresses, dresses, dresses.’ You know, like, what are we putting girls in? And it just makes you kind of want to get up and dance around the room.
SB: I actually love Nouvelle Vague as a band. I discovered them when I was in Paris at one point. I was shopping at Colette and they always have this great assortment of random CD's with all these French bands you've never heard of. I actually looked at their album cover, which was really cool, because I'm sort of visual and sometimes I pick things just for the colors.
I brought it home and I played it and I was like, I love this! And then I realized it was remakes of all these great songs that I loved the originals of, so it's kind of fun. They pick these songs - like a Dead Kennedys song - and they turn it into this girly sexy mix and it's just neat. So I love it.
AL: That was “Too Drunk to F**K” by Nouvelle Vague. And what do we have next on the list? What do you want to talk about?
SB: You know, one of the songs I've been really obsessed with lately is “Barcelona” by The Plastiscines. They are like a true girly punk band. They're out of Paris. We actually flew them in and had them perform at one of our shows in the fall. They did our spring line, which is out now. I just describe them as candy. You, like, want to eat them.
SB: There's just something when that song comes on that you just jump up and want to play. I think it's one of their -- I don't want to use the word "catchiest" -- but Barcelona has such an energy to it. And I also really fell in love with the video that they did. So it was a combination of both loving the song and the video. And I actually have to say that even Eloise, my daughter, when that song comes on, she'll start jumping. You know it just has that girly-girl energy to it.
AL: That was “Barcelona” by The Plastiscines. Up next music from Phoenix. It’s the track “Lisztomania.” So tell me about this.
SB: They are one of my most favorite, I would say, current bands right now. I just love it. I can listen to it all day long and it's that combination of being both kind of mellow but also being that song you can go for a run to. I call “Lisztomania” my collaboration song because when I was working on our website, which was a big project, my friend Matthew was designing it for us, and we would go back and forth on everything that was inspiring us a the moment so our heads were in the same place and it became this creative collaboration. We were both listening to that song. We were kind of being like…’okay, what are you looking at, what magazines are you reading’ so that we were in sync, and that song was it. So I thought that was kind of special. And, I don't know, I always feel like that song has a little bit of a magical feel to it.
AL: Stacey, thank you so much for joining us for KCRW's Guest DJ Project.
SB: Thank you for having me this was so fun!
AL: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.