Meet the founders of De La Vali — The Ibizan ‘it’ girl brand creating statement partywear

The founders of the cult label discuss their Ibizan roots, and their unique take on feminine, island dressing.

Amongst those in the know, De La Vali is the go-to brand for on-point partywear. Having reached cult status for fusing feminine shapes with an enduring sense of island cool, the ready-to-wear label was founded in 2017 by Ibizan-raised friends Jana Sascha and Laura Castro. The pair, who share a love for 1920’s theatre, harlequin, and of course, their native Ibiza, initially started small; they crafted their first collection out of dead-stock fabric from India, and sold their wares out of their car boots and beach shacks. But word spread, and not long after, Kate Moss came knocking… Their dresses are now regularly seen on the likes of Moss, Alexa Chung, Madonna and Kendall Jenner. Here, Sascha and Castro speak to HUNGER about their roots, their approach to evening-wear, and how the label has grown…

How did the idea to start your brand come about and how did your Ibizan heritage influence that?

We spent a year living in Amsterdam  when we were 18 and 19. We were obsessed by vintage and spent our days bonding on our appreciation for beautiful clothing and our shared aesthetic. It was then that we birthed the idea to start something together. It wasn’t long after that that we went to India and started developing our first range with beautiful deadstock and one of a kind fabrics. Of course the only natural place we had in mind to sell these pieces was our home, Ibiza. So naturally the dresses were designed with the Ibizan summers in mind and our aesthetic and brand DNA started to take form. 

 Can you describe the premise behind your free-spirited island life approach? 

 Ibiza is very carefree and laid back. Even in the way people dress, they want to make a statement, but in an effortless way — there’s a certain nonchalant elegance to the Ibizan woman. One of the things we always keep in mind when developing our collections is that blithe versatility. In Ibiza you never know where you might end up, but with the right dress in your basket, you effortlessly transition from day to night and from beach to bar, always looking and feeling divine. 

How would you describe the De La Vali wearer? 

  The De La Vali woman is a romantic, she’s vivacious, has a lust for life, a bohemian spirit and loves to feel feminine but also empowered and bold. Our ethos is that you can dress yourself beautiful. Even if you might not be feeling your most glamorous, a dress can lift your mood and make you truly feel good, and at the end of the day, beauty is a feeling you hold inside. We believe that with the right dress you can feel invincible. 

Can you walk us through how you approach designing a new collection? 

 It normally starts with a mood often inspired by film, art or culture. Maybe it was a recent trip or a period of time that set us into an energy. We then start building our colour palette, fabric board and Jana starts sketching the collection. 

What’s the shared vision between you two, and what inspires you to come up with new ideas?  

We are really lucky that we share the same eye and vision for the brand and that we really trust each other’s opinions. Although Jana designs the collection, Laura perfectly analyses and advises Jana’s developments, and together with our beloved team we then create the collections in our studio in London. We develop all our prints in house so everything is completely unique and exclusive to De La Vali. 

 What has the evolution of De La Vali looked like since you first started?

We’ve come a very long way from when we first started. We literally sold that first collection made from deadstock fabrics in India from the boot of our car and in beach shacks in Ibiza, but we were so lucky with the exposure we found in those early days. We remember receiving a call from the Vogue offices, Kate Moss (who was one the first to discover us) requested our entire collection for a shoot she was styling for Liv Tyler. At that point, the collection was already entirely sold out and we had to call round friends who had bought the dresses to get them on set. Now, we have a studio and a team of nine who help us realise our dreams everyday, as well as a magical press team, but honestly, those early days when it was just the two of us are still magic.

Ibiza is a holiday destination and very much associated with summer wear. How did you go about breathing a new lease of life into stereotypical high summer silhouettes?

Even though our dresses are obviously very feminine, we like to incorporate a certain edge. In the same way that Sevillain flamenco gowns have a lot of character and strength, we like to try to make our dresses slightly with an almost with masculine edge to create a feel of understated glamour, so they always feel cool.

WriterNessa Humayun