How Nina Gets her Acting Fix
Designing a clothing collection involves character development, too.
Before Nina Egli got into design—first launching a jewelry line, and then adding clothing offshoot Toujours Toi Family Affairs—she was an actress. Now, instead of memorizing lines and taking directors’ notes, she puts her character-development training to use. “When you’re reading a play, you’re thinking, ‘Who is this character? What is she wearing?’ I think that helps me when creating a collection—in creating something more than just clothing,” Nina explains. Here, she walks us through the story and the girl behind the lighthearted spring collection and lookbook.
Click here to score one of the 13 breezy, devil-may-care tunics the mother-daughter team created exclusively for Of a Kind.
“You know those summers when you were younger and carefree? That’s what I wanted to capture this season. I keep going back to the summer before college when I spent a lot of time listening to music, travelling to France—you know, taking the overnight train and just being.”
“We actually shot the lookbook at a cemetery in Zurich, but it looks like a British garden. I was really into the structure of it. Last year, we shot at a very wild park, and this is softer.”
“I imagine all of the pieces in the collection in a little suitcase packed for the South of France. You need something to walk around in, something else you could wear to a party. I wanted to make it a very fun and light collection—feminine but not too girly. I like the kind of independence you have in that phase, and, for me, it was also a time with no cell phone.”
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Nina Brags About Her Mom
And justifiably so: The Beatles were among her mother’s fans.
Pieces from the duo’s spring collection hanging in Nina’s Fort Greene apartment-slash-studio.
Nina Egli of the Brooklyn- and Zurich-based line Toujours Toi Family Affairs fell into fashion without intention, but her mother and co-designer Kaya made her mark in the field years before, bringing hard-earned skills and some real hippie cred to their young company. Here, Nina shares her mom’s early work, which influences their creations today.
One of Kaya’s sketches from her Apple shop days, circa 1969.
“My mother went straight from high school to design school in Paris where she started dating a guy who was big into the textile industry in Marseilles. She moved there with him in the sixties. His parents had a cinema, so my mom and her boyfriend opened their first shop in the foyer of the theater—which is so cool. They had a mix of vintage and designer, and she had her own line there.
By then, my uncle was a soloist at the Royal Ballet in London, and he convinced my mom to move there. She ended up being hired by the Beatles for the Apple shop! Like, her work visa is signed by one of the Beatles. Her setup was downstairs. Jimi Hendrix or whoever would come in, and she would design him a shirt, a one-of-a-kind thing—she would draw it, and a seamstress would make it. There weren’t photos of everything then like there are now—she can’t say, ‘Here’s a picture of Brian Jones wearing these pants I made.’ But sometimes we’ll see footage on TV, and she’ll say, ‘I think I might have designed that.’
We take a lot from her archives, from what she did in the sixties and seventies. I’ll have a story in mind—an idea for lengths and for shapes—and we’ll say ‘Oh, maybe we can pull from ‘68 or ‘74.’ Eventually, she moved to Switzerland and did a whole line for this really cool store called Brasilia. She worked until I was born and didn’t design again until she launched Toujours Toi Family Affairs with me.”
Get a taste of the Egli aesthetic and score the tunic Toujours Toi Family Affairs made exclusively for Of a Kind right here.
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Nina and Kaya’s Inspiration Swap
Both Tommy Ton and Woody Allen get the duo excited.
Not only is Toujours Toi Family Affairs a mother-daughter operation, but it’s also a bi-continental one: Nina Egli splits her time between Brooklyn and Zurich, where her mom Kaya lives, and they do much of the designing of their free-spirited clothing line with an ocean between them. “At times, it’s almost helpful, because I have to condense my inspirations,” Nina explains. “I collect them all in my head or on a computer and then send them to her. Blogs have become really important to our relationship.” Here are six sources that, according to Nina, have made the transatlantic voyage.
MOVIE - Another Woman
“We were both really excited about Woody Allen’s movie Another Woman with Gena Rowlands—the winter fabrics, the mood, everything was just, like, ooh.”
BLOG - Jak & Jil
“My mom sends me links all the time. She’ll say, ‘Did you see this on Tommy Ton’s site?’ She really likes sharp images.”
ALBUM - Bringing It All Back Home
“There’s a lot of Bob Dylan stuff I’ll never part with, even though I’m not a Bob Dylan freak or anything. The cover art of Bringing It All Back Home is my favorite. I have it here and also in Switzerland.”
BLOG - Park & Cube
“My mom discovers these blogs, and I’m like, ‘How did you find that!?’ Park and Cube, for example—I heard about it through a very cool friend from Switzerland.”
MOVIE - Working Girl
“I always blog about movies I’ve seen, and then she tries to rent them from the library. I like eighties movies like Working Girl—there’s something about the storytelling.”
BLOG - Turned Out
“I really like Maya’s blog, Turned Out. We have the same taste in girls. I don’t have much interest in the Sartorialist-type women—they’re all really pretty and luxe. Maya’s are more distinct—more about the little things.”
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Toujours Toi Family Affairs
Before Nina Egli was born, her mother Kaya was a designer—and a member of the sixties creative set. (At one point, she lived with Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas.) But while growing up in Switzerland, Nina never considered following in her footsteps. “I studied filmmaking. When I was in acting school in New York, I was trying to make money, and no one would hire me because of visas. So I started making these charm bracelets, and stores picked them up right away,” Nina explains. “It was a very naive start.”