Emily Diamandis founded Tabula Rasa in 2013 on the philosophy of comfort and self-expression. Like adding color to a “blank slate” (the translation from Latin of Tabula Rasa), her pieces encourage women to make their mark with clothing as their palette for expression. Diamandis’s eclectic take on knitwear speaks to this modern Tabula Rasa woman, who is “fun, playful and feminine,” Diamandis says. “She’s always on the move and it’s important that her clothes fit into her lifestyle.”
Tabula Rasa takes a page straight from Diamandis’s own life as a journey-woman, who makes her home around the globe. “It can’t not be influenced by my personal style,” Diamandis admits of the bohemian aesthetic of her collection. “It’s a part of me.” Inspired by her Bangladeshi heritage, Diamandis’s passion for textiles started at a very young age. She honed her skills practicing centuries-old textile traditions in Nepal, Cambodia and Japan, before making New York City her home base. Her career blossomed from her interests: notably she launched knitwear at rag & bone before going on to consult for Uniqlo and Altuzarra.
True to its global roots, Tabula Rasa’s Resort 2018 collection is inspired by the pageantry of Flamenco and the opulent textiles of the Mughal Empire. It plays with proportions, fringing and crochet to create one-of-a-kind knitwear unlike any other sweater.
We spoke with Diamandis to learn where she draws her inspiration from and what personal style means to her.
Babur wool hoodie
Describe your personal style in three words:
Feminine, eclectic and cozy. Everyday it changes.
Where did your passion for textiles come from?
It started when I was really, really young. My father is from Bangladesh and I grew up in a house surrounded by textiles. And I was really lucky to be able to travel a lot as a kid. Wherever we would go—Bangladesh, India, Nepal—I always wanted to go see the weavers and the knitters. Wherever we were, whatever region we were in, for me, it was always about the textiles.
Mughal lace-up sweater | Saeta tie cuff sweater | Babur wool hoodie
How does travel inspire your designs?
Travel is my biggest love and it’s been something that has really fueled my interests. When I lived in Hong Kong, I had an amazing launchpad to Asia. I spent a lot of time in Nepal, Cambodia, India, Japan. And everywhere I would go, I would find the local textiles. I would study their traditions and their workmanship, and really just uncover as much as possible about their practices. So, travel for me is not only a huge part of my inspiration, but also my education. And it’s thanks to being always on the move that I realized I wanted clothing that makes traveling more comfortable.
For instance, I can’t go anywhere without the Babur wool hoodie. It’s everything you want in a perfect, slouchy sweater—big hood, voluminous sleeves—and those comforts help me feel secure when I’m away from home.
Mughal lace-up sweater
What does quality mean to Tabula Rasa?
It is always important to strive for excellence. I spend a lot of time sourcing the finest yarns from Italy, Japan and Peru. If I have to use a great wool or silk, I’ve learned where the best place is for that yarn. But the most wonderful thing about knitwear is what you do with those yarns. Tabula Rasa is really based in reviving textiles and taking age-old techniques and giving them a modern twist. We take a variety of those techniques, from fringing to crochet, and apply them to the garment design. The production, along with the quality materials, elevates Tabula Rasa above your average sweater.
Describe the Tabula Rasa woman.
I think there is a real fun, playful and feminine sense to our clothing, so I see the Tabula Rasa woman being all those things. I see her as a modern woman who is always on the move, so it’s important to her that her clothes fit into her lifestyle. She needs comfort and versatility. She’s interested in creating a beautiful space and considers the quality, the details and the techniques involved in each piece—whether apparel or home furnishings.
Palos lace-up stretch wool top
How does your personal style influence the clothes you design?
You can’t help but inject yourself into the clothes you create. When you have this wonderful chance to create your own brand, your aesthetic becomes such a strong part of it. So I would say yes, but then I’m always aware of designing for a lot of different people.
What style advice would you pass on to all women?
Don’t worry about the trends—they come and go too quickly. Go with things that are comfortable and that make you feel excited and proud to own.
Babur colorblock long wool cardigan | Palos lace-up stretch wool top
SHOP: Tabula Rasa