A Backyard Sit Down With LPA Designer Pia Arrobio

by Robyn Merrett

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“I’ll be there at 4:12 according to Waze. SO SORRY.” I refreshed my email to read a message from Pia Arrobio, designer and creative director of LPA the Label, who I’m here to interview on this sunny Friday evening. As I wait on her steps and take in the beauty of Venice, she pulls up.

Pia’s the type of cool you aspire to be. The type of cool you pretend you are on a first date. Arrobio hops out her glossy Range Rover and runs over to me ,dressed in lustrous leather trousers paired with satin flats. It’s no secret that she has an eye for style.

“Hi! I’m Pia!" she says as we hug. "Welcome to my home lets go in. I think we should chat in my backyard. It’s so cute.” Her home is cozy yet eclectic.  As we sit and sip on Pamplemousse LaCroix she begins to tell me how and where it all began. 

“Clothes were always a big deal for me,” Arrobio starts. In 2005 she picked up everything and left Pasadena to study at Parson’s School of Design in New York City. “I was just immersed in a community of creatives and I couldn’t have been more inspired.” Pia recalls. While there she found herself working as a freelance producer for Angela Boatwright and it was then that she realized she was skilled in organizing shoots, working on sets and directing models. She later left Parson’s and began working for People’s Revolution under fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone.

“It was full Devil Wears Prada mode there," Arrobio says, "completely crazy. But I got the experience I needed. It led me to my next job.”  She left People’s Revolution and started working for Reformation doing in-house public relations.  

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“I got really cool with the owner Yael Aflalo and I got to do a bit of everything," she says. "It was a super new company,  only 15 employees at the time.” When the company decided to open a location on Melrose, she moved back to California to help. She sat in on regular design meetings and went on to become a designer for the brand as well. Although Reformation was a huge creative platform for her, Arrobio felt she wasn’t meant to stay.

“The company began to get so big and I didn’t feel there was much room for me to grow,” she tells me. That’s when she got an offer to work at Zara. “I had just gone through a breakup and really wanted to go to Europe,” she says while rolling her eyes. She fell in love with both La Coruña and Zara and made plans to move to Spain in hopes of starting a new life and finding a new love. She met up with pal (and uber popular model) Emily Ratajkowski there, which led to an eventually life-changing moment:

“Emily had just done an event with Revolve and had told them she was on her way to meet me in Italy. Rosa, the head of marketing at Revolve, was like, 'What! She’s willing to leave Reformation? We want her!' And just like that they offered me a brand.”

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It’s been a year since the launch of LPA (an acronym for Lara Pia Arrobio) the Label. It's been an eventful one. Stars like Kim Kardashian West and Lena Dunham have been seen rocking LPA pieces. LPA features sultry silk dresses, embossed leather jackets, and form fitting pants. "I’m honored and shocked by the outpouring," Pia says. "We’ve really built a community.”

What makes the brand so successful is that Arrobio is transparent. Women can see themselves in her designs. “I’m not trying to be anybody else," she says with fervor. "I’m a brand that strives to be inclusive and attainable. We make clothes that girls can feel good in.”

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When it comes to her creative process, she strives to make pieces beautiful for all silhouettes. Arrobio's inspiration comes from the '70s, classic movies, Italy and vintage shopping.  “My fashion icon is Sophia Loren," she says. "I looked up to her so much growing up because I could see myself in her with her dark hair and curves. I want girls to look at LPA and feel the same.”

Clothes are not all we should expect from this #Girlboss. She is the face of Glossier’s body hero campaign and was recently featured in The New York Times. It’s only the beginning. “Clothes are the tangible thing" she says. "I now feel a responsibility to make LPA a platform for women,” she says while petting her dog Ciro. “My goals are much different now. I used to dream of getting married and having a good paying job, but now I see that LPA is resonating on a deeper level and it would be irresponsible for me to not continue to do things for girls to feel good and this surpasses clothes.” 

Pia wants to understand and study what makes women feel beautiful, what makes women feel happy and what it really means to be a woman. “How do I share that?" she wonders out loud. "Is it makeup? Is it products? Is it TV? I’m not sure. I just want to push it in a way that is accessible.” 

As we wrap up the interview, she notices I'm wearing one of her designs. She looks at me and smiles. “Seeing real women in my label like you is one of my biggest accomplishments to date.”


Written by Robyn Merrett
Photos by Jose Cervantes