Meet the brand redefining sexy for a new generation.
Friends Valentina Muntoni and Stephanie Cara Bennett are the names that you need to know behind cult label Rat & Boa. Unfamiliar? Well you soon will be. The brand is a firm favourite of stars worldwide, from Kylie Jenner to Adwoa Aboah and has used social media as the main platform of selling their unapologetically sexy, feminine designs. The silhouettes of their clothes embody an endless summer, fitting because the co-founders used to live in Bali before returning to Europe in 2017 to start their label. The signature style of their collections resides in their own personal tastes rather than following any trends, with their latest collection being inspired heavily by the eclectic spirit of Brazil. We caught up with the London based duo to discuss their mantra behind the brand and their latest collection.
What are some of your earliest memories of falling in love with fashion?
Stephanie: I became obsessed with fashion magazines when I was about 14, I literally used to spend every penny that I had on them and get lost in the pages of the amazing editorials. Coming from a small northern town it was a completely different world; it was so fantastical to me. I used to get my Grandma to help me make one off pieces for when I started going out. She taught me how to use a sewing machine and how to knit!
Valentina: When I was eight years old, my older sister showed me the film Cry Baby and I became obsessed! I wanted to look like a ‘drape’. I begged my dad for a leather biker jacket for my birthday and wore it every day with jeans and a white tee – I loved and lived that look for a long time. When it came to my early teens my best friend and I used to listen to a lot of 60s and 70s music, get dressed up in our gladrags and spend every weekend at Camden and Portobello Market where the fashion was wild, it was the ultimate form of self expression and I loved it.
You both met at a party before founding Rat & Boa, how has the brand evolved in the last few years?
Over the years our evolution has been organic, and Rat & Boa has grown with us as people. There is still and always will be a bohemian flair to the brand, as that is a reflection of our lifestyles. The shapes and silhouettes are more elegant and overall the items are more luxe and refined, whilst always keeping them fun! We still love a good party, and now have the added pleasure to create dresses for them!
What kind of images are always on your mood board? Decades, films, photographers etc?
Our mood boards carry a very nostalgic feel; with the 70’s and 90’s always being at the forefront of our vision. The name ‘Rat & Boa’ is derived from a Stevie Nicks quote: “He and I were about as compatible as a rat and a boa constrictor,” which was in reference to her relationship with Lyndsay Buckingham. Stevie is always up there alongside other inspirational women with a strong sense of style such as Bianca Jagger, Lauren Hutton, Goldie Hawn, Cher, Erin Wasson etc.
We are also huge fans of photography and have a lot of archives from 90s photographers pinned up, some of our favourites are Steven Meisel, Sante D’Orazio and Ferdinando Scianna – their style definitely influences our shoots. Whilst we are getting creative we love to blast Scorsese and Tarantino soundtracks – music always helps inspire our mood.
Rat & Boa pieces are timelessly stylish – do you think there is too much emphasis on trends in fashion now? And how do you gauge what your consumers gravitate towards?
As we sell exclusively on our own website we are able to directly monitor sales, however we use our own intuition and go with our feeling; we know our consumer and trust that they will love a dress just as much as we do! As a brand we do not focus too much on trends, and instead focus on our personal taste. This way we can ensure that our pieces are timeless, versatile and individual. Our collections are intimate and that ensures we can bring together a variety of pieces that whilst being cohesive, offer something for everyone.
You’ve lived and designed all over the world – how important is travel to your creativity, and does your location change your mood design wise? And where else is on your bucket list to visit?
The idea for Rat & Boa came to us whilst traveling and our nomadic lifestyle has played a huge part in our brand image! We both love to travel, meet people and experience different cultures – for us this is vital to our creative growth. Moving back to Europe from Bali in 2017 has naturally seen a change in our designs.
We’ve always been drawn to places that have a vivacious energy; our previous shoot destinations have included Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala etc. Having shot our last collection in Morocco we got a taste for Africa and are really excited to head to South Africa for our upcoming collection.
Your upcoming collection is inspired by Brazil, what is it about the country that you found so influential?
For this collection the colours are wild and the pieces sexy and fun – just like the women of Brazil! We were in awe of the vivacity, vibrancy, confidence and energy of the country. We visited Rio, Bahia and Buzios – with each place having its own spirit – just like the pieces in this collection!
Your pieces have been seen on some the most influential women in fashion on Instagram, how vital has social media been to Rat & Boa? And do you think it’s an integral part of any fashion brand today?
We live in a digital age and everything now is so fast paced and instant. Fortunately for us, we started Rat & Boa alongside the social media boom and it has played a huge part in our story and success. We have used our social platforms as a way of creative expression and blending PR and Sales, and in doing so this has not only been cost effective but a great way for us to retain brand control and identity. It has helped us remain personable and authentic, build relationships and have a direct connection with our audience.
What does the future hold for the brand, how do you see yourselves growing in the future?
Ah, it’s all so exciting and even after all these years so fresh and new! Eventually our plan for Rat & Boa is to be a one stop shop – thus expanding our product offering to include shoes and accessories! We are also working on having pop up stores in some of our favourite cities worldwide so that we can offer a real life experience to our customer! Starting in London….
For more information visit Rat & Boa here
14 March 2019