AHL Insider:

Eli Caner

Hospitality Fashion Designer, Owner of Lady and Butler

  • WHAT DO YOU DO AND HOW DID YOU GET HERE?

    I’m a fashion designer and I create uniforms for restaurants, hotels, members clubs and brands. Some of my clients include high-end hotels and restaurants including Jean Gorges at the Mark Hotel, The Edition Hotel in London, The Hollywood Roosevelt in LA, Navy restaurant in Soho and Via Carota in the West Village. I also designed uniforms and a capsule collection for The Surf Lodge in Montauk.

  • WAS DESIGNING SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO? WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?

    From a very young age, I was always sketching dresses. When I wasn't in school in the summer, I would get my mother to create dresses I designed for myself. And today, she still knits the most beautiful pieces for me. But I always thought there was no future in design when I was living back in Spain so I studied marketing and PR instead. But when I came to the US, I had to study to be able to stay, so I chose a fashion design degree from FIDM in San Francisco.

  • HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY AND HOW DOES THE APPEARANCE OF HOTEL STAFF BECOME AN IMPORTANT PART OF SHAPING THE GUEST EXPERIENCE? 

    I started working at The Soho Grand as a cocktail waitress at The Yard and I wasn’t happy with what I was wearing. I realized that if you wear something that you like and you're passionate about, you will naturally perform better. The next year, the hotel told me about the struggle of finding cool uniforms, so I designed the uniforms for them.

  • WHO OR WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION IN THE INDUSTRY TODAY?

    John Lautner, I think his work is stunning, simple and clean. I love how he intersects architecture with nature. Santiago Calatrava for his incredible talent making futuristic and complex work look simple and gentle. Raf Simon; I’m just in love with everything he does wherever he goes. 

  • WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?

    I love to get my inspiration from my travels and friends. I also love getting inspiration from people; I love to sit on a terrace and watch people walk by. I watch a lot of old movies and I look at vintage clothes as well. 

  • DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE HOTEL IN THE WORLD?

    I don't really because each hotel offers their own unique ambiance. But If I had to say where I've had the best experiences, it would be the personal, home-like touch of La Torre Del Canonigo in Ibiza and the magical “La Dolce Vita” feeling of Splendido in Portofino. Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and Le Parker Meridian in Palm Springs are also on this list of my favorites.

  • ANY PROJECTS THAT STAND OUT AS EXEMPLARY OR PERSONAL FAVORITES? 

    Each project brings unique challenges because each property has different goals. I love that challenge but will also work carefully and meticulously with each individual property to ensure they have the best uniforms that fit the brand, business and vision.

  • WHAT'S THE MOST OUTLANDISH OR MEMORABLE THING YOU’VE EXPERIENCED WHILE TRAVELING?

    The most memorable experience must have been a dance party in the jungle while in Mexico. I didn’t know where I was going and we didn’t have tickets either. We were following a drawing made in a banana tree through the jungle in Mexico. After sneaking into the dance party in the jungle on a temple where the Mayans used to sit and study the stars. I also ran into friends from all around the world. The night was lit in candles and a Shaman was telling you your destiny; it was magical with great energy and beautiful people.

  • IF YOU COULD HOST A PARTY FOR ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

    James Dean, to see his beauty and tell him not to drive so fast. Nina Simon to feel her soul. Mozart because he is such a genius. Coco Chanel to see chicness embodied! Andy Warhol & Edie Sedgwick, to get some tips form them how to host a good party.

  • WHAT'S THE NEXT BIG IDEA IN HOSPITALITY, WHAT ARE WE MISSING?

    Custom rooms. Hotels should offer the experience of staying in a room with personalized touches from your own room at home. They should have your favorite drinks, scents, linens, colors, etc. That should be the future of the hospitality industry!

  •  WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING IN TEN YEARS FROM NOW?

    Traveling around the world making uniforms for the most exotic resorts and luxury brands.