Founded by former fashion editors Laura Fantacci and Petro Stofberg, Wardrobe ICONS is the ultimate digital fashion destination. Its philosophy? Focusing on forever pieces that stay in style season after season. Now with a podcast, ‘ICONversations’, that’s seen interviews with industry insiders from Jasmine Hemsley to Elizabeth Saltzman, we caught up with them to talk fashion, friendship and where they feel most at home in the world…
Tell us about Wardrobe ICONS. How did it all come about?
LAURA: I was working for a fast-paced monthly magazine as shopping editor and felt sickened by the constant pushing of new, new, new. I wanted to create a shopping platform that helped women to shop more intelligently, with longevity at the forefront of their minds. Wardrobe ICONS is just that, a shopping and content platform that talks about what never goes out of fashion.
How did you meet? What was it that made you decide to work together?
LAURA: We met as young editors at a magazine called HAPPY – the magazine doesn’t exist anymore but our friendship has lasted well beyond it!
What do you love most about working with each other?
LAURA: It’s hard to put into words just how well we get along as it really is one of the fondest relationships I have in my life. There is so much I like about Petro, from her work ethic, to her kindness, can-do attitude and loyalty. I don’t know that there are many people in the world I could spend as much time with and not get annoyed with!
PETRO: Working with Laura is never boring. She is always thinking up our next big adventure and creating something innovative in her brain for us to do. I always joke that my least favourite text of hers is the 5.30 in the morning, ‘I have had an idea’ text, but in reality that’s what makes this journey interesting and is the reason Wardrobe ICONS has reached the success it has, and will reach new heights. She is also incredibly caring, open minded and clever – all the best qualities of a business partner.
Your podcast ICONversations started last year – is there an episode that stands out for you?
LAURA: I really loved talking to Laura Brown from American InStyle about ‘sisterhood’. This is such an important topic and so relevant for me as I raise two young girls in the world. I loved her positivity and inclusive energy. That is something that we strive for at Wardrobe ICONS. Everyone is welcome.
PETRO: I love the first one Laura and I did together, called the JUGGLE. We didn’t know what our Features Editor at the time was going to ask us, so it was quite fun and scary. It was the first time Laura and I had spoken out loud about what it was like working with one another.
Who or what inspires you?
LAURA: As a trait, open-minded people really inspire me. The more you are open to new ideas, to challenging your convictions, the more you allow yourself to absorb, listen-in and grow.
PETRO: My father. He also had a business partner for many years, and they grew an incredible business. Although I doubt that we’ll ever be able to emulate anything close to their success, his work ethic and business acumen constantly inspire me. Also, my mother, who held it all together with three small children, allowing my father to follow his ambition.
Who are your favourite designers?
LAURA: I’m a fan of very simple dresses so I love designers that create uncomplicated and comfortable clothes for the life I lead. Gone are the days of dressing for an occasion – I dress for everyday life. Basics from Joseph, injections of print from Zimmerman and Ulla Johnson and flat shoes are some of my go-to brands.
PETRO: I have to agree with Laura – I love basics from Joseph (I still live in my leather leggings, five years later) and great silk pieces from Asceno. I also tend to go to Loewe, Gucci and Valentino for classics with a twist. I think every designer does something special, so it is hard to pick just one.
Do you ever hit the high street and if so, which high street brands float your boat?
LAURA: I do, but I prefer premium high street and I’m very vigilant on quality and the sustainable commitment that brands take. I absolutely love ARKET – they do chrome-free leather for example.
PETRO: From time to time I do, although it’s becoming less frequent. I would rather buy less and really think long and hard about each purchase. It means I’ll treasure it more. Saying that, I do love cashmere jumpers from John Lewis & Partners, and their quality is parallel with most designer brands.
London Fashion Week starts today. What’s on your radar? Any brands you can’t wait to see?
BOTH: Preen is always a favourite – we love everything Justin and Thea do, edgy yet infinitely wearable. Also, Roksanda – her designs based on architectural heritage are always inspiring and get us excited for the season ahead.
Best place in central London for a drink?
PETRO: The Connaught hotel is great for central drinks – I love a whiskey sour or French martini.
Best place for dinner?
PETRO: So many places. I love ROVI, one of Ottolenghi’s restaurants for a delicious lunch that isn’t too heavy. Norma for brilliant rich Sicilian inspired food and Roka for an indulgent Japanese dinner.
That leads us nicely into travel. You’re both keen travellers – where in the world are you happiest?
LAURA: On a beach. In a swimsuit. In Italy. With my family.
PETRO: We have a house in Onrus. about an hour and half from Cape Town, and it’s my happy place. We have been going for 25 years and it will be where I retire one day. Nearby is a town called Hermanus. If you get the chance to go, head to Betty Blues for brunch, it’s so delicious, and for a traditional braai experience go to Devett and Mossel. Birkenhead house is a lovely place to stay too, it sits right on a private peninsula.
What’s your favourite photograph that you’ve taken whilst travelling? Where did you take it, what is it of and why do you love it?
LAURA: Any photo with my daughters on our summer holidays in Italy. I treasure each one.
Where are travelling to this year? Any trips planned?
LAURA: I’m really excited for our Easter holiday trip to California. We’re doing a road trip from San Francisco to LA with lots of fun stops in-between.
PETRO: We’re off to Barbados with my parents this Easter I have never visited the Caribbean so it will be a first time for all of us. I can’t wait to see the beaches and try out the local restaurants.
Do you have a favourite UK hotel?
LAURA: I recently went to Heckfield Place for a weekend with my husband – it was so beautiful, and the food was excellent.
PETRO: I’ve just been to the Ham Yard hotel and loved it. Great service, comfortable rooms and I like the individual décor– it makes it feel homely rather than corporate. The spa is worth a visit too.
Favourite European city break?
LAURA: Paris! It never gets old.
PETRO: Amsterdam – I grew up there and it is such a fun and easy city to get around. Also Venice, as it is just so breathtakingly beautiful.
Who are your favourite people to follow on Instagram?
LAURA: I love that Jenna Lyons has recently joined Instagram – I’m obsessed with her eclectic style.
PETRO: Too many to name but I do love Celeste Barber her pictures always make me laugh!
What’s the most unusual thing you pack in your hand luggage?
LAURA: Room spray – I can’t bear going into a hotel/room and not have my own scent around!
Quick fire questions for you…
Podcast or paperback?
Train or plane?
Cut it fine or leave plenty of time?
Both: Plenty of time
Sightseeing or sun lounger?
LF: Sun lounger
Early start or slowly but surely?
Both: Early start
Plan every detail or wing it on arrival?
Both: Plan every detail
Pack heavy or pack light?
Both: PACK HEAVY!
See more from Laura and Petro at WardrobeICONs.com.