The designer sits down with Document to discuss the films, time periods, and nuanced female characters that inspire her clothing

Fashion designer Lucila Safdie’s heroine knows about Fellini, Lynch, and Coppola (Sofia, of course). She is hidden in plain sight, her wry smile hints at what happens in her dreams while her lacy outfit leaves little to the imagination. Lurking beneath the wild patterns and intricate details of Safdie’s clothing is the idea of a girl, interrupted. By what? We will never know, but this girl’s complexity is apparent when dressed in designs that hint at a fun-lovingness among the moodiness: gold metallic booty shorts, white fishnet capris, or, from her latest collection i desire the things that will destroy me the end, a pair of grandma wallpaper-style floral print leggings with ruffles on the butt reminiscent of the scalloped edges on an authentic pair of Louis XIV drapes. The Argentine London-based designer imbues her clothing with a melee of emotions, from blogger-era zaniness to boredom to catatonia.

Safdie draws upon references from her friends’ personal wardrobes, music videos from the 2010s, and most importantly, the idea that there is always much more to a person than what meets the eye. From her days at Central Saint Martins to present, she’s released three collections—the first of which, from 2023, is named after Sofia Coppola’s lesser-known first short film, Lick the Star—each one peeling back another layer of the playful young girl she seeks to dress. In lick the star, she’s clubbing in shiny hot pants; in girls don’t cry, she’s pouting in canary yellow lace; in i desire the things that will destroy me in the end, she’s relaxing in stretch jersey tube tops and dresses. Nearing the two-year mark for the brand, numerous celebrities and cool girls have been spotted in Safdie’s work, like social media personality and entrepreneur Devon Lee Carlson, rapper Sexxy Red, and top model Alex Consani.

Following the release of i desire the things that will destroy me in the end, Document sits down with the designer to talk about blogger era style, historical references, and Miuccia Prada.

Maya Kotomori: How did you first get into clothing design, and where does your inspiration come from?

Lucila Safdie: From when I was a teenager…or no, even before that, during the times of Blogspot and Tumblr. Being from Argentina, it was harder to get magazines and stuff, so the internet was a different level for me. When I was 12 I was super into Tavi Gevinson’s blog Rookie. She was always wearing the coolest clothes, Miu Miu, everything. She was a year older than me, so I would say that was the first time I had the feeling of being interested in fashion.

Maya: How would you describe the blogger era of clothing?

Lucila: Playful and feminine with a lot of mismatched elements. It was really unique without being theatrical; the clothes were centered around functionality and femininity. I feel like there are times when high fashion becomes more costume-y and I’m not super into that. But with the blogger era, it was all about self-expression as the style.

Maya: Totally, that concept of costume as clothing can be very overwrought as the dominant idea of what fashion is.

Lucila: Exactly. I feel like there are some designers like Miuccia Prada—she’s my favorite—who really do the ‘what a woman will wear’ thing and it’s still very unique. She has a really strong point of view without making something that couldn’t be functional for everyday life.

Maya: Did you study fashion or clothing design?

Lucila: Yes, I studied fashion design at Central Saint Martins. And before that I went to a high school where the orientation was film. I found out about CSM through blogging, actually. I was like, I need to go to that university, it sounds so cool. It was a crazy idea, but thankfully it worked out.

Maya: So many people talk about how CSM is a palace for creative fashion people. How did your education there help develop your point of view?

Lucila: It was great in that everyone around had a really strong point of view and different interests, which was the best part about going there—meeting people and making friends. We would all be in the library doing research but everyone would have completely different books and would be referencing completely different things. Central Saint Martins was very self-taught in a lot of ways and your professors are really challenging, but it also makes you stronger.

“I think it’s very clear to me, this kind of nuance between being sad but also really wanting to romanticize your life. The clothes are very about that for me.”

Maya: For sure. When you’re around so many different kinds of people who do things differently than you I feel like it goes one of two ways: you either get intimidated or you get inspired.

Lucila: Yeah. It’s nice to see people who are really passionate about what they want to do and work really hard because it is so motivational.

Maya: With your clothing, it only makes sense that your background comes from film—that’s the unique thing that I see in your collections. Each one has such an interesting title, where do those come from for you?

Lucila: I mean, I love clothes. I love fashion. But what I do in my free time is either watch movies or read. I can get really obsessed really easily. For me, that’s the skeleton of my interests, and fashion is a way for me to translate these ideas because I can merge all of the things I’m into at the moment and create this character for the collection. So with Lick the Star, it’s named after Sofia Coppola’s first short film. She was a really big influence for me growing up. When I watched The Virgin Suicides, I was like, Wow, someone gets me. For the titles, they’re parts of sentences from books or songs that I happen to be super into in the moment of creating the collection, and that’s the starting point. But then sometimes I will mix references from different books and movies to add atmosphere.

Maya: I can feel that atmosphere! I’m thinking of the ’60s-style Peter Pan collar that you did on both tops and on the waists of shorts. It’s a historical reference but also done in such a playful modern way. Do historical periods play a role in your inspiration as well?

Lucila: Yes, definitely. My idea of a time period also comes from the visual references from a year. It sounds so pretentious, but like a French New Wave movie, or Anna Karenina. Or, I really like Agnès Varda but then I’ll watch a music video from 2010 and merge those concepts. It’s not like a ‘I love the ’60s or ’70s’—I love how visual references can be so similar across time.

I love connecting archives to my design process from my favorite brands or designers, like Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga. I love Miu Miu and Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel for research. I actually used to resell a lot of clothes from when I was in uni, but now I keep them for pattern-cutting research.

Maya: That market is so interesting because it’s mainly based in streetwear. What were you reselling?

Lucila: It was mainly Miu Miu and Prada, but now everyone is selling Miu Miu and Prada and it became really expensive. This was a while ago, and mainly I was on Depop or eBay. I think the username I had was 10 of May or something like that, which is Miuccia Prada’s birthday. Mine is 9 of May so I always thought it was cool.

Maya: What do you think is the most important thing for you to embody in your clothes as a designer? Is it an emotion, a fit?

Lucila: The complexity of emotions, specifically for girls. Femininity, naivety, rebelliousness, disruptiveness, but always a bit confused. I think it’s very clear to me, this kind of nuance between being sad but also really wanting to romanticize your life. The clothes are very about that for me.

Maya: Totally. A lot of girls who really want to dress with that nuance come together in this place in New York called Dimes Square. Have you ever been there before?

Lucila: No, I have no idea what that is. I haven’t been to New York in over 10 years, but I think I’m doing a pop-up later this year in New York.

Maya: I feel like so many people at least here in New York have recognized your clothing from that Snow Strippers video that people shared online. I’m wondering, being inspired by the blogger era, would you consider social media a tool for your brand? How do you feel about the new internet?

Lucila: I think right now, social media is probably the biggest tool for most young designers because you need to put yourself out there. Before the brand, I’ve never been the ‘Instagram girl,’ but I started using it more as a mood board to try and create the girl I wanted to portray in my clothing. So I would find people that represent what I see the brand is, they liked the clothes and would follow, so I just started posting and that’s how the brand grew. It’s been a year and a few months since I’ve officially had the brand, and I do think it’s the biggest tool because it’s instinctive to share something that you like.