Trinny Woodall may be the nation’s go-to guru when it comes to fashion, but her teenage daughter Lyla’s having none of it. They tell Laura Craik about each other’s very different styles – or rather what Lyla would like to borrow and Trinny would love to burn.
Whether you’re 16 or 60, it’s not always easy to find your own style. Some women are born with it. Others spend a lifetime looking. When you’re a teenager, that search for your own identity can be particularly fraught. When you’re a teenager whose mother found fame on a TV show called What Not to Wear, finding your own style must be harder still. Are you even allowed to? Or are you quite literally told what not to wear?
This is my opening question to Lyla Elichaoff – the 17-year-old daughter of fashion guru, beauty entrepreneur and social-media star Trinny Woodall – who shares her mother’s wide eyes, broad smile and glossy brown hair (Trinny separated from Lyla’s father Johnny in 2009; he died in 2014). ‘She doesn’t ever tell me not to wear stuff,’ Lyla assures me. ‘I can choose. She doesn’t really have much control over my clothes. She’ll buy me things, but they’ll be nice, because she has good fashion sense.’
Trinny’s 796,000 Instagram followers may already be familiar with Lyla, who has made several appearances on her mother’s Instagram Live videos, bickering about TV shows while upbraiding her mother for getting changed and flashing her bra on camera. The two are clearly thick as thieves. Lyla seems pretty self-assured for a 17-year-old: perhaps it’s she who tells Trinny what not to wear? Like any teenage girl, she certainly knows which items of her mother’s clothing she doesn’t like. ‘I hate that grey jumper you have – the grey poloneck from Zara that you always wear. It just looks weird.’
Trinny nods her head, laughing. ‘I respect it when she says to me, “Mummy? Umm…” When you’re a control freak like I am, you get caught up in what the rules are for your body shape. Then, in my 50s, I learned not to be so strict with rules, for myself or other people. If I’m feeling a bit flat, Lyla will say to me, “Mummy, put on something bright and sequinny.” She knows what will lift me and that’s very astute of her.’
Hapless Zara poloneck aside, after decades working in fashion, Trinny’s wardrobe must be a treasure trove of covetable items. Although with a teenage daughter of my own, I’m aware that even one’s most prized designer possessions can get short shrift from girls who only dress in sportswear. If it isn’t Nike, they’re not interested. So I’m curious whether Lyla deigns to borrow any of Trinny’s precious things?
‘This is the problem!’ Trinny booms. ‘Here is my wardrobe.’ She turns the camera round (we are speaking on Zoom) and gestures to a long, delicious rail of brightly coloured clothes. ‘And here is her bedroom.’ She points to a door directly opposite. ‘And I have everything laid out, because I’m always planning and filming tours and wardrobe confessions. Bags are first to go.’
‘Because they’re right outside my door!’ protests Lyla. ‘We face each other!’
Trinny holds a small Prada bag up to the camera. ‘I was waiting for her to spy it. I don’t think she’s a label girl, but she appreciates them. She recognises when something is, unfortunately, expensive, because that’s what she’ll go towards. And that’s the thing you least want to lend.’
To assuage Trinny, I tell her about the time my 14-year-old borrowed a cashmere jumper and forgot to zip up the moth-proof storage bag. When I discovered the oversight, 15 jumpers had been eaten. Have there been any similar disasters chez Woodall?
‘When I was little, I’d steal bottles of nail polish,’ remembers Lyla. ‘That green Stella McCartney bag you always travel with…’ she trails off. ‘Oh yes,’ says Trinny. ‘She tipped a whole bottle of nail polish over it. But I think with jackets she’s more careful.’
Is there anything Trinny wouldn’t let Lyla borrow in a million years? ‘Her Balenciaga leather jacket,’ says Lyla, quick as a flash.
‘Yes,’ nods Trinny. ‘I just felt it’s an expensive item, and I’d not want you to lose it. Also, I’m a lot taller than Lyla. So my maxi dresses are too long for her.’
Lyla smiles. ‘I’ll get them taken up.’ Alas, the same pragmatism cannot be applied to shoes. Pity the poor girl whose feet turn out to be a different size from her shoe-loving mother’s. ‘It’s the most gutting thing for Lyla,’ says Trinny, whose feet are two sizes bigger. ‘Her favourite shoes of mine are these Prada ones.’ She shows me a boldly patterned Prada heel. ‘Even at 12, she’d put her tiny little feet in them.’
Like any mother, Trinny is also keeping special pieces for her daughter – ‘things that I wouldn’t want her to trash yet’ – to wear when she is older. She recalls her cavalier attitude to borrowing her own mother’s clothes, a memory made all the more poignant by the fact that Ann died recently, aged 90, after a battle with vascular dementia. ‘I brought her clothes at the end of her life,’ says Trinny. ‘Whenever I was wearing something fun she would say that it was lovely and she’d like something similar, so I’d go off to Zara and take things to her.
‘My mother didn’t have this huge passion for clothes, but my father loved buying them for her,’ she remembers. ‘When they were married, he took her to House of Worth [which specialised in haute couture] in Paris, and Dior, and bought her these beautiful things. This was in the 50s. My mother would wear them and look lovely, but she wasn’t vain. She had some incredible Schiaparelli pieces, and Courrèges things from the 60s, and because she wasn’t that into her clothes, she let me borrow them way too young. And I just trashed them.’ She looks mournful. ‘I took them to parties. So there are boxes of things that I won’t give Lyla until she’s 21 or 22.’
Noticing Lyla’s Adidas top, I ask whether she’s interested in designer clothes. ‘They look really cool, but there’s no way I could ever afford them. They’re so expensive, it’s a joke. You can literally buy a car for the price of some things.’ She says she prefers sportswear. ‘It’s comfy. Comfort is key.’
‘I love that she’s doing this chilled, casual, comfy thing,’ says Trinny. ‘It’s not about obsessive body image, or about showing off. I think it’s really refreshing.’
At a time when social media is placing ever more pressure on young girls to look ‘perfect’, it’s interesting that so many choose to shroud their bodies in oversized sportswear, as though opting out of being judged. Trinny agrees. ‘Lyla doesn’t give a s***. I think she has a very healthy relationship with her body. I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but you do, don’t you?’
‘Yes,’ says Lyla.
‘Lyla hasn’t been around a mum who’s saying, “Oh, I need to lose weight.” She’s seen me saying, “Oh, this dress doesn’t fit,” but I feel very confident with my body now – I’ve always felt all right with my body, actually. I’ve never been on diets. I’ve been on health fads – a juice cleanse for my skin – but they haven’t been about losing 5lb.’
I ask whether lockdown has made their relationship closer and stronger. ‘Not at all,’ says Lyla. ‘It was so annoying, because in my whole life, we’d never been together that long. I’ve been at boarding school. She’s been working. And it was just too much. Nice at the beginning, but after a month, I’d had enough.’
Their most frequent argument? ‘My room being messy,’ says Lyla.
‘It was always the room,’ agrees Trinny. ‘Kind of the dogfood with the old cereal bowl and some dirty pants all sitting comfortably together on the floor over a few days.’
When we speak, Lyla is at home for half-term, but will soon be off to boarding school again to continue studying for her A-levels. She chose drama, textiles and photography, and eventually wants to study film at the Tisch School of Arts in New York. ‘She won a drama scholarship this term,’ says Trinny, proudly.
Lyla says her other passion is vintage, which she buys on resale site Depop, as well as Etsy and Ebay. (‘We wash everything really well,’ says Trinny. ‘I find there’s a certain odour.’) Lyla also recently discovered Brick Lane Market in East London. ‘There are things that in shops would be super-expensive, and you get them for a fraction of the price. Everything looks cool. If you get something from Urban Outfitters, every single person has it. You’ll walk into school and at least five people will have the same hoodie. Vintage is good for the environment, because it’s not fast fashion.’
Both mother and daughter try to shop sustainably. ‘I don’t want to buy something for the season,’ says Trinny. ‘It doesn’t matter the price point: I just don’t want to be bursting at the seams with things that are only [in fashion] for a little while. I want to make an investment that’s also an investment for Lyla.
‘I’ve also culled during lockdown, and I want to cull even more. I want to have fewer things that work harder. There are things I haven’t worn for maybe ten years that I love rediscovering, like my Zara tweed cape. I don’t think I could buy full-price designer again. A bag, occasionally. But I cannot justify it, can I, Bunny?’
I ask where the nickname comes from. ‘I’ve no idea,’ says Lyla, looking a little embarrassed.
‘I don’t know,’ says Trinny. ‘She’s just my little bunny.’
TRINNY I bought Lyla this dress for a birthday present.
LYLA I was so excited, I didn’t think I’d get it! I just love the neon pink and how it looks like something from the 2000s. Those sort of pieces always sell out instantly on resale website Depop. I’m really into wearing a monochrome look, too. I’d never wear heels with it – I only wear trainers.
TRINNY And the design I’m wearing is everything I want in a dress: ankle-length, A-line, sequined, cheetah-print…
LYLA My jacket is Isabel Marant – it’s actually Mummy’s…
TRINNY I’ve just discovered she’s got it in her cupboard. A classic Lyla moment!
TRINNY I really craved a Saint Laurent blazer that Hedi Slimane designed a few years ago. Then last year I found this in Zara – for £59 – and it’s just like it. I don’t wear black much but I love this.
LYLA Mummy has always told me you can’t wear a skinny top with skinny on the bottom, or baggy with baggy – so I like how this mixes both. I’ve added lots of necklaces – I always wear a locket I got from her for my 16th birthday.
LYLA My jeans are like Mummy’s – only cooler.
TRINNY I only let Lyla do ripped jeans last year! I’m wearing my favourite pair – high-waisted and wide-legged, they don’t give me trunk legs. I love them so much that one of my Instagram followers actually tracked down a pair and gave them to me as a present. It was the sweetest thing. And this shirt was one of my mother’s favourites, which she got in Paris. I always thought this was something that suited her best and brought her to life. It felt odd putting it on, as I only knew her in it, but it suddenly felt very me. I was so happy I wore it.
TRINNY I like a top with drama – and these sleeves give you that!
LYLA This jumper is Quiksilver – a brand that was very big in the 2000s. Orange is one of my favourite colours and I love how it contrasts with the green. It’s one of the comfiest things I’ve ever worn.
Trinny & Lyla’s style counsel
Best items to hand down to your daughter
TRINNY: I’d say cool coats and jackets: certain shapes are very timeless and can come back in, and you don’t really know which decade they’re from. Also bags and shoes. And jewellery, though it may not be to their taste. I like very big, bold costume jewellery.
LYLA My taste in jewellery is for more delicate things. The angel wings necklace I’m wearing is Mummy’s. I found all these little charms around the house and I put them on a chain.
Best for a mother-daughter shopping trip
TRINNY Zara is the one with the easiest crossover. Lyla likes Urban Outfitters, but I wouldn’t find anything in there. It’s expensive. I also recently took her to Stradivarius.
LYLA I liked Stradivarius. Cute little skirts and dresses.
How to cope when you hate something your teen wears
TRINNY I didn’t like when Lyla wore cropped tops with high-waist skinny jeans. All her girlfriends dressed exactly the same – they were such a herd. From the back I couldn’t tell which one was Lyla. I thought it was too safe and unadventurous. But everyone’s got to go through that stage before they find their own style.
LYLA My mum hated the high-waist jeans I wore when I was 12. I look back at myself then and think I looked so stupid – but then everyone else did, too.
You won’t always suit the same colours
TRINNY It can take time to find out which colours work. It’s interesting to see how colours look very different on us. Lyla’s palette is more off-white and cream. She can wear black. She’s much more olive-skinned than me, with warmer hair and brown eyes. She looks amazing in biscuit, which will make me look like I’ve just vomited.
LYLA She suits bright yellow – which makes me look green – and really hot pink: bright, neon colours. She also suits sequins, and I don’t.