When California-based designer Heidi Merrick stopped by Oliver & Lilly’s in Vancouver (where her line is available) I chatted with her about the 1980s, her surfing pedigree, and her first kiss.
From left to right: Heidi Merrick, Oliver and Lilly’s owner Leighann Boquist and yours truly.
You and your designs are pure California. What were you referencing in this collection?
I always say it’s high glam — like surf 80s glam — and my small town beach town, but truthfully it’s about this surfer Tom Curren, the best surfer in the world of all time. He was living at our house when I was young, he was my dad’s protégé [her dad is surf legend Al Merrick]. When he was going on world tour, he kissed me goodbye in the driveway. I think I was about 8 or 9 and it was my first kiss.
I was looking at a book on 1980s surfing and I saw a picture of Tom and it brought it all back and I thought I’m going to do something inspired by strong emotional feeling so I tried to make the colours super glamourous and the seersucker and the gauze and the scarves were kind of that little girl left in Carpinteria [where she grew up]– dressed down, beach town, bleached out.
I remember imagining him going on world tour – and I’m sure it’s the most miserable experience in the world to be a surfer on the world tour – but in my mind it was the most glamourous thing in the world so I tried to put it together: the little girl left in Carpinteria and the glamour of the surf world.
You’re now about as far north, in terms of big cities, as it gets on the west coast so how does your Southern California surf-inspired collection fit in in Vancouver?
I can’t believe how cool everyone is who’s walking in the door and how like-minded it feels. Maybe yeah, they’re here for an event for me, but I couldn’t imagine a better group of friends. Take the designer Dace, for example, we met in New York and we just had this immediate connection.
There’s a real California/Canadian vibe.
For your fall collection you’ve gone in a slightly more polished direction. What’s the story behind it?
For that I was trying to do a gentleman surfer. Spring in retrospect is more bohemian than I need in my closet and so I wanted to dress it up a little bit. I modelled it after this one photograph of this dude I know surfing in a toque in a yellow top and turquoise shorts and the entire colour palette is taken from that one photograph.
[Second image found here.]
P.S. You’ll find all The Anthology’s interviews with the likes of designer Rachel Roy, J.Crew’s design directors Tom Mora and Frank Muytjens, and New York-based artist Jason Young right here.