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Leith Clark's Lula

A big happy birthday to Leith Clark's girl-loving magazine hitting its fifth year

Sugar and spice and everything nice: that`s what Lula girls are made of. The sugariest and spiciest of all is Leith Clark, editor-in-chief and stylist on the side. Clark didn`t mean to start a magazine, exactly. She says she just wanted something to show her grandkids. But Lula took on a life—and an ever-growing, never-growing-up audience—of its own. This year it turned five. It`s been a happy birthday: Clark says the new issue, with Charlotte Gainsbourg on the cover, is the most financially successful yet. And she`s been celebrating with cupcakes and champagne and Rodarte t-shirts and Tabitha Simmons suede shoes, all in one pop-up shop. First it went to Harvey Nichols. Now it's at The Room at the Bay, in Toronto, her home and native city. That's where Dazed Digital sat down with Clark to sip extra-frothy cappuccinos and talk about orphan films, magical costumes, and girl-crushing forever.

Dazed Digital: What was your favourite film when you were very little?

Leith Clark: Neverending Story. I liked Annie. I liked Anne of Green Gables.

DD: Orphan films! Were your parents very sheltering? Overprotected kids always dream of orphanhood.
Leith Clark: I’m a only child. I was allowed to be quite free. And they were really amazing. We’d go camping the summer and then Paris in the fall. It was a really good balance. A lot of my friends have said that they love that I’ll want to go out somewhere and all I want to drink is champagne and it’ll be at the Ritz, and then the next day we’ll go and sit in the park and make our own food and then we’ll go home and watch a really bad American movie. I like the mixture of all of it.

DD: You have the same mix in Lula: on the one hand so fantastical, and on the other hand, like notes from your childhood best friend.
Leith Clark: I hope so! Yeah, I like a mixture of everything. I don’t think the Ritz is fun if you don’t go to the park the next day. It’s weird. When we started the magazine I felt like—I made it for myself. I didn’t realize people were going to read it too. It might have been the only one I ever made, so I thought, what would be the perfect magazine? What would I show my grandkids and say, that was me? 

DD: It’s so girl-crushy. In the real world, it feels like girls are competitive, or that society engenders competition among us. But when you open Lula, everyone’s a girl and everyone likes each other.
Leith Clark: I felt that fashion magazines are about women looking at women, but there seems to be this imaginary man in the room. It’s so sexualized. I don’t fully get that. I made a magazine of women looking at women, without that competitiveness and that hard edge that we think we need as we get older. I think it should be... trying less hard. Lula is about going back to why we liked fashion in the first place and that really starts when you’re a kid, with Halloween and ballet recitals. I was quite shy as a kid. I went to a strict ballet school and I worked well under that discipline, but when I had to perform and be free, that was hard. Then they gave me a bluebird costume, and I was fearless. I could do it. I learned really young how clothes can make you feel, how you can liberate yourself with them.

DD: What are your most memorable Halloween costumes?
Leith Clark: One year I was little Orphan Annie. My mom would always make clothes for me, and we would work together and choose the fabrics, even when I was really really little. The Annie dress had to be perfect. We spent, like, six months working on it. I was Charlie Chaplin one year. I was a flamenco dancer.

DD: Now that Lula has readers, more of them every year, do you think more about making it for them than for yourself?
Leith Clark: No, I don’t. The funny thing is we all like to think that we’re really, like, unique and special and that we’re strange. You know, with the first issue, my art director was like, are you sure you want to do six pages on the Childlike Empress? A little bit strange, don’t you think? And I said, no, it’s really amazing, people will love it.  But I didn’t know who these people were. And they did. People loved that. I guess I thought there would be less of an interest because I thought it was my world.

DD: Are you ever surprised by who reads Lula?
Leith Clark: I really like all the secret boys. There’s loads of boys who read it. A lot of them say the Lula girl is their crush. 

DD: It’s like all the boys spying on the Lisbon girls in The Virgin Suicides. 
Leith Clark: It’s exactly like that.