Cheerful, thoughtful, sophisticated, and easygoing—it’s immediately obvious upon meeting Brock Collection designers Laura Vassar and Kristopher Brock that their designs personify their shared values. The couple is generous with their wide smiles, and they possess an inherent level of calmness and comfort around each other and outsiders—qualities that no doubt helped them navigate getting married and having a son while simultaneously launching and growing a fashion label. Not to mention the fact that they were among the top 10 finalists of the 2016 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, a process that’s notoriously grueling for any rising designers. Luckily for Brock and Vassar, they’ve been on the same page since they met at Parsons when taking the same couture class.
Their Fall 2017 collection embodies a theme of love and empowerment, as represented by the core color red. The offering solidified the brand’s signature unfussy elegance by way of rich velvet and taffeta, plush cashmere, intricate ruching, deceptively simple cocktail dresses, and their now must-have denim. Below, we chat with the delightful duo about how they went from classmates to couple to entrepreneurs.
The Window: Which came first, the romance or the creative partnership?
Laura Vassar: We started working together first. We would help each other with school projects, so it was collaborative before it was romantic. One day he put flowers in my locker though…
Kristopher Brock: It was so embarrassing the day I did that! I had to sneak the flowers into the school. They didn’t fit in a bag so I just walked through school with flowers.
LV: We didn’t meet until our last semester, and we’d been working together for a little while before he left the flowers.
KB: We’re both creative people, so that has a lot to do with our emotional connection and the way that out relationship grew.
A business venture is risky as a couple—how did you know the time was right?
LV: We actually got the idea when we were in that final semester. Once we had the idea, we started setting goals and working toward them. We took the time to build our knowledge. For a while, Kris was working as a tailor, and I was styling. One season we were in Paris, and we told ourselves that no matter what, we were going to come back with a collection the next season.
KB: We bought fabric from one of our favorite suppliers in France, and that’s how it all began.
What was the mission at the onset?
LV: To make feel-good clothing for women. It comes down to: What does she feel best in? What does she want to wear? What makes her feel special? How do we continue to evolve that?
KB: American sportswear is about making clothes that women can live in comfortably. Brock Collection speaks a lot to that, but we romanticize it. Our goal is to make clothes that women feel good in and live in. And on top of that, our aesthetic is always to be romantic.
Your clothes do feel truly romantic. It’s easy to picture them backlit in fields of flowers.
KB: You hit the nail on the head!
LV: It’s so true. We always try to capture that carefree feeling—the wide open plain. It’s very emotional.
How does where you’re each from influence the brand?
KB: Laura grew up in Northern California, and I grew up in South Texas, so we kind of grew up in similar atmospheres—a bit cowboy and a bit ranch. I think where we are from unites our aesthetics.
LV: For sure. I think a lot about my aunt, my mother, my grandfather. They grew up in Senora, California, which was integral to the gold rush. My grandfather went over the Sonora Pass when he was 10 years old, and he hearded cattle. There’s always been this country element in every collection that nods to this. Also, my aunt has an antique store in Sonora, and I also think of her feeding the horses in the morning wearing Brock.
KB: We live with Laura’s parents in Newport Beach, and her mother waters the garden in Brock tied up with an apron over it. Seeing her integrate the brand into her life in that way and the way she styles it is so special.
LV: We always think about the sophistication of the woman and her ability to wear with pieces in California or New York or wherever she’s traveling. There has to be an element of ease, but also a sophistication for evening.
What’s the creative process like? What was the starting point for Fall ’17?
LV: It always starts with a feeling. We want to figure out what the Brock woman is feeling and then nurture her. This collection was really about empowering the woman and making her feel good. It started with the color red, which is so powerful. Then, there are the florals—it comes back to that sense of ease and nurture.
KB: It always starts with fabric for us—that’s at the core of everything we do.
Besides your respective backgrounds as a stylist and a tailor, what do you each bring to the collections as individuals?
KB: We sketch separately at the beginning of the season and then everything just gets intertwined from there, so it’s impossible to really know. As the brand has grown, we’ve tried to separate our roles and responsibilities, even just for on paper, but it’s so hard. I want Laura’s advice on everything creative that I’m responsible for, and I’d like to think that she wants the same.
LV: The process is very much a collaboration. Kris might come up with a dress, and I’ll do the fitting for it; he’ll pick the fabric, and then by the time it’s finished, it’s a product of the two of us.