A lifelong golfer and sports enthusiast, Claire-Anne Stroll Callens had long dreamed of creating performance clothes that could double as luxury separates.
She wanted fabrics that could accommodate the sweeping movements of golfers, yogis, runners and tennis players, but with classic, flattering shapes and understated colors that didn’t scream: “Workout!”
“In the back of my head, I was always thinking of the concept of performance meets elegance, and I am obsessed with color and fit,” said Stroll Callens during a walk-through of the Callens spring 2016 collection.
“This is activewear for active women — they need to feel these clothes like a second skin, and be able to wear them all day. They have couturelike proportion and detailing, and celebrate a woman’s shape,” added Stroll Callens, who is Belgian and lives between Geneva and New York.
The Callens showroom is based in Milan, and the collection shows during the city’s fashion week.
Callens, now in its third season, is made in Italy and includes fabrics such as stretch nabuk, perforated calfskin, nylon taffeta, silk, linen and cashmere, in addition to high-end technical fabrics.
Stroll Callens, the founder and chairman, is collaborating with Paul Helbers, the former designer of Louis Vuitton’s men’s line, who has also worked with Martin Margiela.
Starting with the fall 2015, the collection will be sold through 25 doors including Holt Renfrew, Selfridges, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Mytheresa.com.
It includes zip-front hoodies with corsetlike construction; tulle and jersey A-line tennis skirts; tailored and flared jersey stretch yoga or jogging pants; and cashmere ballerina sweaters. Bombers have been done in techno-jersey, while slim parkas are made from bonded waterproof nylon. There are tulle insets on shirtsleeves, and silk and cashmere panels on T-shirts and jackets.
The fall 2015 collection includes a short, reversible chocolate shearling coat with a corduroy hood, and a roomy puffer with a trapeze shape.
“We brought Callens because it fulfills a gap in the market for sportswear targeted to more refined and luxurious women. Simple product with great quality,“ said Justin O’Shea, buying director at Mytheresa.com.
Prices are generally under 1,000 euros, or $1,090 at current exchange, with a leather bomber jacket costing 950 euros, or $1,036.
Stroll Callens, who is the wife of the Canadian fashion magnate Lawrence Stroll, said the company is hers alone. “It is 100 percent my project. My husband is not involved at all, but he’s very supportive,” she said.