Courtney Kates, 35, founder and designer of sleep and loungewear line Maison du Soir, wants you to look as good asleep as you do awake. The Newport Beach resident, a veteran of Volcom and Quiksilver, says she learned a lot during her 10-plus years merchandising for surfers and skateboarders, but felt out of place—although she did marry a pro skateboarder. So in 2013, she decided to launch her elegant line. Select pieces are available at Bardot in Newport Beach and Coast Modern in Seal Beach, and online at revolveclothing.com. See the entire
fall collection at maisondusoir.com.
How would you describe Maison du Soir style?
Understated sexy. It’s fashionably relevant and chic, playing off the contrast of modern and feminine. My customer is forward-thinking, with a strong sense of self.
Did you have an epiphany about sleepwear?
My obsession began after I purchased my first set of quality sleepwear. When I slipped it on, I looked better, which made me feel better and consequently helped me sleep better.
Who made that set?
Bodas. After a mad search for additional sets, I realized there wasn’t much out there that I really liked. I’m not a lace-and-bows girl, and most of it had wide legs and boxy tops. Being in the fashion industry, I didn’t understand why the sleepwear market wasn’t paying attention to changing tastes and trends. Everything seemed dated, cheesy, or with kitty cat and ice cream cone prints. My mind flooded with ideas of more flattering lines and silhouettes, while also pondering the question, “What does the cool chick sleep in?”
You created a more modern silhouette, too.
Yes. I also didn’t understand why sleepwear wasn’t echoing what we wear during the day. At the time, we were all in skinny jeans. I understand the purpose of a wide sleepwear leg, but does it have to be that wide? It doesn’t serve a technical purpose because at the end of the night the pant leg is halfway up to your forehead. So, yeah, the silhouettes are taken in a bit.
Is your line sleepwear or loungewear?
Both. Many pieces are intended to cross over into day. Most people wouldn’t be caught dead in line at Starbucks with their pajamas on. I’m trying to change that. The transition from day to night and night to day should be more seamless. When you wear beautiful, flattering, and relevant garments to sleep, you can wear them how you wish … to lounge, run errands, or even with some jeans and a leather jacket.
Do you design all of the pieces?
Absolutely! I have my hands in every single aspect of this business.
What’s your process?
I’m constantly staying up-to-date on what’s on the runway. I use that as a guide, but a lot of initial inspiration comes from instinct. I start each collection with color, then move on to silhouette, honing in on every subtle detail of line and movement. Fabric finalization is the last part of the process, and it’s often more interesting and time-consuming.
The pieces are so soft and light …
It’s crucial that all of the materials are buttery soft, yet retain their quality and shape after washing. Featherweight fabrics have become a game-changer for my customers who are “hot sleepers.” Many of the pieces feel like you’re almost wearing nothing. Ultimately, I wanted fabrics that give you the equivalent of a “sweat-pant moment” sans the frump factor.
What textiles do you use?
Predominantly micro-modals and silks. With each new collection, I introduce complementary textiles. Fall 2015 features chambray, quilted fleece, and a ministripe pattern.
Who are your favorite designers when you aren’t wearing loungewear?
Wait—there’s clothing other than loungewear? Maje, Acne Studios, and Isabel Marant.
Your personal style?
I’m drawn to juxtaposition. You can often find me mixing a simple white T with edgy avant-garde jewelry, or a leather jacket with a gauze-y dress. My date night go-to is an embellished vintage T, faded black jeans, and my silver-tipped Miu Miu sneakers.
If I came by your house unannounced, would you be wearing your line?
Yes, 98 percent chance. I live in the tanks and long-sleeve tops.