By Way of Bali
Wardrobe essentials from Kalita co-founder Raechel Temily
If you want to understand Raechel Temily and her resortwear brand, follow her on Instagram. Squares of beaches, surf shacks, elephant rides, and rooftop parties show a life well lived, split between Bali, London, and New York. There she is in on the bow of a boat. Now she’s on the beach. Now she’s horseback riding—all in the most amazing silk dresses that don’t hang. They float.
This woman knows about travel and how to look fabulous doing it. She and friend Kalita al Swaidi started Kalita as an extension of their lifestyle and the way they like to dress. We spent a few minutes over tea to talk about the collection and after a few minutes with Temily, were ready to sign up for the gypset club, too.
Where did you grow up?
I’m half English, half Australian, and I’m definitely a hippie. I grew up in Byron Bay, Australia—a bohemian, hippy, surf town. Some of the best waves in the world. It’s like Montauk meets a drum circle. There’s a lot of chanting and crystals there. But I’ve lived in Tel Aviv, in Milan… I see myself as a member of the planet.
When did you decide to settle in Bali?
I moved to Bali six years ago when I decided I wanted to change my life and live a different experience. And it helped jumpstart my journey. When I was in my 20s, I didn’t have the confidence I have now in my 30s. I wanted to ask: How vast am I? What am I really capable of? And Bali helped me answer that. I’m very aware—and this will sound really hippy, but—of my spirit calling. We all feel it, though we may use different language, but it’s that voice that says: Come this way.
Is Bali where you envisioned Kalita?
I’d always wanted to do resortwear. I was back in London for a few months when Kalita and I met through mutual friends. We realized we shared similar ideas about fashion and how we want to feel in clothes. It’s not about a design aesthetic—it’s about a feeling. She suggested we start a line and I told her, “yes, but I live in Bali. If you’re really serious, you’ll need to come there.” I thought I’d never see her again. Two weeks later, she’s on my doorstep.
What were some of the fundamentals you started with?
Initially, I didn’t want to do something for every woman. I wanted to create a brand with a very specific point of view. And then we started talking about color and silhouettes… We’ve found that women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds love Kalita. But the aesthetic is still uncompromising. We’re not trying to be all things to all people.
How do your collections works?
We do three, tightly edited collections a year: Spring/Summer, High Summer, and Resort. This is only our first year. But really, it’s not about the seasons. Women who buy our clothes are buying them year-round. Even if you live in the cold, there are destination weddings, holidays, weekends away… Life is happening all around us.
It’s not about strict seasons, like other Ready-to-Wear collections.
It’s about time and place. I think most women are wearing the same wardrobe year round and layering it up. Like in New York, women are wearing amazing silk dresses in summer and then with a heavy coat and tights in the cold.
So give me an example of travel works in Kalita.
Take the Brigitte—our flowing maxi dress. I wore it for New Years Eve in Byron Bay, backless with sandals. All glowy skin with bronzer. But then I took that dress to Paris and wore it with a fine-knit turtleneck, Givenchy coat, and stilettos. And in London on the street, I wore it with over a white tee and leather leggings with high tops. It’s the same dress. It’s just the perfect layering piece.
Where do you get inspired to create those combinations?
It’s seeing how women from all different parts of the world wear our pieces. They show us, really. They’ll tie the straps differently, style pieces in unique ways and make them their own.
It all goes back to the canvas.
Beautifully made. Incredibly effortless. Gorgeous, hand-dyed colors. We get letters from women telling where the wore our pieces and how they made them feel. And that’s the magic. As women, we all know that feeling of not being enough. Of not having the right clothes or perfect body or skin… What if we strip that back? What if when you woke up this morning, you were already enough? And you could put on a dress and stand in your house—barefoot, without any makeup—and think: this is who I am. That’s the magic.