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Lola Rose Thompson | Free People

How They Wear It: Lola Rose Thompson

February 19, 2016 

Los Angeles, CA 



On the industrial side of the downtown LA Arts District sits a hidden studio exploding in color. Large canvases saturated in paint hang from the walls and potted green plants grow up from the concrete floor. Speckles of bright color decorate the floor, as if each drop has been placed on purpose. The smell of paint intoxicates the air.

Up from behind two work tables, Lola Rose Thompson appears. She’s wearing worn-in Levi’s with holes in the knees and spilled dried paint on the legs. Her hair is messy, but not for lack of caring — she’s just been busy. She is petite with a big smile, outwardly shy at first, but you can hear the wheels constantly turning inside her beautiful brain.

I’ve always been attracted to the artist’s lifestyle. To wake and throw your hair in a bun, pick up your tools and press brush to canvas. To create art in full freedom, to communicate what you really want to say. It’s all so alluring. Even the manner of dress — an artist’s style — is cool. But often I’ve wondered, is fashion for a painter based primarily in function? If so, then how do they still look so cool, so effortlessly chic? Lola is absolutely no exception to this. The Tappan Collective artist is a castle in the sky personified. Scroll further to see inside her captivating studio, how she wears her favorite FP pieces, and read a very candid interview about the woman herself.

Where were you raised? Tell us a bit about your journey to where you are now, artistically and geographically…

I was born in LA but as a kid we moved ALOT — almost every year…so I grew up between LA, NY and Sydney, Australia. I also lived in Toronto and London for a bit. I attended kindergarten in LA, first grade in NY, second grade in LA, third grade in NY, and so on… When I was 16 we moved to Australia — my mum wanted to be close to her dad, who was getting very old and sick. I spent a couple years in Sydney and then moved to Chicago to attend The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Moving so much was tough at times — but now I’m happy that I got to see and experience so many different places and people. I think it made me adaptable. It also made me love to travel and explore new places…and I’m a pretty good packer. From a very young age I had to learn how to make new friends, how to entertain myself and embody how important it is to accept that change is inevitable. Even though I lived in a different city and a different house every year, LA has always felt most like home. I’m a big fan of palm trees.

Do you think growing up where you did influenced your personal style in any way?

Growing up in cosmopolitan cities certainly exposed me to great style…but, I think more than anything, my parents’ style was a big influence on me. My mum has incredible style and taste — in the 70’s she had a fashion program in swinging London where she would highlight new and strange trends and model outrageous, absurd and very cool clothes. She was incredibly glamorous, and could pull off wearing anything, but her personal style was actually quite masculine — in the 80’s she wore a lot of boxy suits, ties, suspenders. She would pair Comme des Garcons trousers with high top Chuck Taylors, a Blondie Tshirt and a bow tie. My dad was covered in tattoos and would take me to the Army Navy store and get me cool army jackets and motorcylce boots…which as a teenager I often paired with ripped jeans, a tutu, and some kind of vintage t-shirt. They let me express myself through my clothes which was really great. The only rule was a very strict NO CLEAVAGE POLICY.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?

I think I always knew I wanted to be an artist — I just wasn’t sure what kind. I’ve always loved making things and being creative. As a kid I wrote plays for my friends and I to perform. I made up songs, I stole my mum’s camera and took pictures, I made elaborate potions and bottled them and painted labels to stick on them explaining what magic powers they contained. I also made lots of paintings and drawings. I was really lucky because my mum took me to many museums and galleries, so I was exposed to lots of incredible art from a very early age. The life of an artist always struck me as interesting and romantic — and, by the time I was 15, I knew I wanted to go to art school. I had an incredible art teacher in high school who taught me so much, and she really gave me the confidence to get serious about my work. Being an artist is romantic but it’s also VERY hard work. You have to be self-motivated which can be tricky sometimes.


What role, if any, does LA play in your creative process?

LA is such an inspiring city to live in — it’s so full of fantasy and contradiction. It’s a place where wealth and glamour and poverty and violence somehow co-exist, where you see Tom Cruise while you’re getting coffee and 20 minutes later, you’re in skid row walking past one of the biggest homeless encampments in the country. There’s really nowhere else like it. Although my work isn’t directly about LA, I am interested in the news, celebrity culture, tabloids, power and magic — all of which you can find in spades here. There are also great museums and galleries, incredible weather, and it’s really beautiful, albeit in kind of a seedy way.

Do you feel your art and personal style are interconnected? How might these two aspects of your Self play with/against one another?

My work is quite feminine but I’m really kind of a tomboy. I like to climb trees and hop fences and I paint all day every day — so you will usually find me wearing jeans or overalls, a soft t-shirt and my trusty Doc Martens. I sometimes wish my personal style was more like my art, which is super colorful and vibrant and wild. But I work in my studio every day and I always get paint on my clothes. I’ve ruined so many pretty clothes that now I know better. At the end of the day it’s more important to me to be comfortable than to look glamorous…but I do enjoy dressing up on occasion.

Style-wise, what are some of your necessities?

Denim jacket, sunglasses, stripey socks and pretty underwear (how can you feel good in anything if your underwear is ugly?). Also cashmere. I have a couple of nice cashmere crew neck sweaters that I live in, and I even have one that I’ve sacrificed to the studio — it’s old and has moth holes so I don’t care if I get paint on it. I’m also a big fan of suspenders, and I always carry a pocket knife.


What do you hope to communicate through your aesthetic?

I think I communicate more through my art than though my personal style…but I do kind of like it when people say I look tough. From the time I turned 14, my dad always gave me knives for my birthday, so now I have a pretty decent collection of pocket knives. Hopefully when people see the knife in my pocket they think, ‘I’m not gonna mess with her.’

What assumptions might people might make of you based on your style?

That I’m a tough bitch, that I’m gay, that I do construction.

If you could translate the work of any artist to your wardrobe, who would it be? Also, why?

Matisse. The way he uses color and pattern in his paintings is so so beautiful. I think his paintings would make incredible prints. I want dresses covered in beautiful nudes.

What makes your style “yours”? How do you set it apart?

I’m just your average knife-carrying, suspender-wearing, paint-covered woman. I think style is more than just what you wear — it’s also your attitude, your confidence and how you carry yourself. You can be wearing the exact same outfit as someone else, and still look different, as long as you let who you are show through the clothes.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Never trust a Hula Girl.

And the worst?

Yes, you should definitely get dreads.

What’s next? Anything exciting on the horizon?

I’m really excited to see my paintings turn into clothes! I recently took a trip to Nicaragua and, while surfing, I made friends with a really amazing woman who is starting a line of women’s surf wear. She has worked for some of the biggest names in fashion, but now she’s starting her own line — she wanted to work with an artist to create unique prints for the collection — and after seeing my work, she chose me. The line is going to be totally green, all the fabrics will be made from sustainable materials. I’ve fantasized for a long time about making my paintings into prints for clothes, and now i’ts really going to happen. It’s a kind of complicated process, though, so I’m super grateful to be working with someone who knows what she’s doing.

As told by Free People



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