Newport Beach Fashion

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Miss Merritt Charles

A Newport Beach native and designer draws inspiration from her hometown. – By Kelly Shannon & NBM STAFF  Photo By Jody Tiongco

Emanating a breezy, low-maintenance style that has become quintessential California cool, the Merritt Charles clothing brand ( fuses high-end fashion with ultimate comfort in loose cuts and earthy colors. It’s founder, Lacey Horning, a Newport Beach native who is now based in L.A., says she aims to “create closet staples that [her] customer can hold onto for life,”—the same way she assembles her own personal wardrobe. NBM recently met up with the young entrepreneur at Zinc Café & Market in Corona del Mar to discuss her label. Donning one of her own creations—a European-inspired lace cardigan—the always-stylish designer glowed with excitement while recounting her journey into the clothing industry.

NBM: Where does the name Merritt Charles come from?
LH: It’s a family name that belonged to my grandfather and has since been passed down to my father, brother and nephew.
NBM: What type of woman is the Merritt Charles brand designed for?
LH: The sophisticated, classic and desired woman.
NBM: From what do you draw artistic inspiration?
LH: My affinity for travel and nature, as well as my coastal roots. The vibe is perfectly transcribed to my collections and the relaxed feel of the pieces.
NBM: Top travel spots?
LH: Sardinia, Barcelona and Croatia.
NBM: You went from no experience in the fashion industry to developing your own brand–how did you manage that?
LH: I researched and asked a lot of questions. I was passionate about what I was doing, so that was definitely a driving force.
NBM: You’ve said you’re also inspired by the ‘60s and ’70s—what, specifically, about this time inspires you?
LH: The free expression of art and style that developed during those times. These two decades have always been most inspirational to me; however, I have recently grown a strong fascination with the ’30s and ’40s.
NBM: Who in history do you relate to most?
LH: Bridget Bardot and Leslie Lawson
NBM: If you weren’t in fashion, what would you be doing?
LH: I think about that almost everyday—there are so many things that I want to do, although, currently, this is my main focus.
NBM: What’s your favorite piece from your line?
LH: The Charcot Cardigan.
NBM: One staple you can’t live without?
LH: My Tom Ford Sunnies.
NBM: Three items you always travel with?
LH: My passport, sunglasses and cell phone.
NBM: Describe your personal style in one word.
LH: Classic.
NBM: One fashion trend that you refuse to follow?
LH: Bling-y things.
NBM: And one you most adore?
LH: Scrunchies.
NBM: An item every California girl should have?
LH: A good pair of classic Levis.
NBM: What’s next for M.C.?
LH:A greater focus on further East Coast and international expansion! ,

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