Elizabeth Street Meets Gabriela Perezutti
The designer of the beloved Candela label talks about her rustic style and being a mom to twin four-year-old girls
At Candela, fashion designer Gabriela Perezutti, who grew up in Uruguay, mixes her native country’s rustic style with the urban chic inspired by her current city—New York. A signature Candela look is a leather skirt paired with a floral safari shirt and the brand's signature cut-out oxfords (which have garnered quite the cult following). “Candela has contemporary price points with a true design element," says Perezutti. "Each piece is as unique as can be and is made with the utmost quality standard. We want to give our customers things they can’t find at stores like Zara." Here, Perezutti spills her stylish mom secrets. —Melissa Schweiger
How does your Uruguayan background play into the Candela designs?
You can always see my background in my designs. As I say, you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl! In the collection, you will always see such rustic elements as boots paired with feminine dresses. I can’t design a collection without boots. I also like chunky sweaters—the contrast between rustic and feminine. If it’s a delicate dress, then I have to pair it with masculine boots; if it’s a masculine look, I pair it with strappy heels. My daughters often ask me why I’m dressing like a boy.
Are your daughters into fashion?
My daughters pay a lot of attention to detail and are extremely aware of what they wear. Their teachers tell me they are the best-dressed girls in their class, and they actually influence the way I design. And I can’t buy clothes for them without their approval—otherwise the pieces wouldn’t be worn. Their favorite brands are Jacadi, Bonpoint, Ralph Lauren, and I’ve made some Candela things for them.
What’s your mom uniform?
I fully believe in a uniform. I went to a school that required me to wear one. In winter, my uniform is composed of boots, tights, a soft silk dress from Candela, a chunky sweater, and a piece of outerwear. In the spring, I opt for light wool pants paired with a shirt and a blazer. For summer it’s a long cotton Victorian dress from Candela with nice metallic shoes.
What should every mom have in her wardrobe?
Nice flat shoes that are sexy and chic. We started doing men’s shoes in 2006, and it’s amazing how the oxfords have become a staple to rival the ballerina flat. You have your ballerinas and you have your oxfords. It’s another option for a girl who wants to wear flats without being stuck with ballerinas all the time. I’m a shoe freak—a good pair of shoes can make my day!
How do you balance work and motherhood?
I’ve always loved working and when I found out that I was pregnant with twins I didn’t know how I was going to manage working and being a mom of twins. But if you’re lucky enough that you can do something you love and you’re putting your energy into that, it makes you a happier person. And when you’re a happier person, you’re a better mom. It’s granted that you love your children and you’ll do anything for them, but you also have to remind yourself that you’re an individual who has needs and they need to be accounted for.