Leyland, a Brit in New York who has conquered the city's fashion
and music scenes. Discover her journey into the spotlight, her
learnings from the fashion world and the songs she plays to get
You're known as 'Fashion's DJ', turning tables for some
of the world's biggest designers at their shows and events. What's
been the highlight for you?
My first time
in Tel Aviv was one of the highlights. I was DJing in the most
phenomenal space, the Holon Museum, which is one of Ron Arad's
designs. It's absolutely stunning, it was so
You originally moved to New York to train as an actress
at the Lee Strasberg Institute, why did you make the transition
It was more of
an organic process. I always loved music, but I never wanted to
work in music. It was something I sort of fell into! I was asked by
a fashion photographer called Ben Watts who I met on my third day
in New York, to DJ at a party. I went out to Montauk that weekend
to stay at his house with a bunch of people. I put on some songs
super casually after we'd been out and before you know it he asked
me to DJ at his July 4th Party.
asking me if I knew any cool girls who DJ or if I DJ myself and I
thought, if people are asking me, then maybe I could get a few
gigs. So I started taking classes with another DJ and I'd go to his
house in Brooklyn to learn the ropes, and the rest is history! I
did MAC's Fashion's Night Out and it just spiraled. Since then I've
DJed for Chanel, Fendi, Vogue, Valentino and I've been able to
travel the world. It's pretty amazing that it's turned into a
Chelsea captured in New York
You're a respected fashion commentator and model tell us
about what constitutes a perfect party outfit in New York,
especially when you're setting the tone with your music.
I've learnt from spending so much time in the space is that owning
what you wear and being confident in it is the number one thing.
Working on yourself internally is the most important thing you can
do to look good, without that I think the fashion world can make
you very insecure.
thing is having something that's different. In New York I find that
the fashion can feel a little same-y, especially compared to
London. I think it's about having something that's cool that allows
you to stand out. That's always the way I was encouraged to be in
London and I think it's important not to just play it safe and to
take risks from time-to-time. I like to have a really funky pair of
shoes, or some jewellery that really stands out. You can wear
something really plain and just put on an amazing coat and like it
does the job. I'm all about mixing low-end with high-end and with
What's a guaranteed song you play to get the party
started in New York or anywhere?
depends on the crowd. I think in New York you can always throw down
Hip-Hop and people will love tha, for example: Wu-Tang, C.R.E.A.M.,
and Drake. As a cheesy 90's classic I love Show Me Love by Robin S,
or Plastic Dreams, by Jaydee. In London you can put on a bit of
dance or reggae that will always get people going. That's the
beauty of learning about different cultures, and how people respond
to music. It's a language and it's about understanding your
audience and their cities.
Where do you go to listen to great music here in the
I find that I
hear the best music when it's spontaneous. Tomorrow night I'm going
to see Nicolas Jaar, one of my favourite DJ's and producers. I
don't know where it's going be, but I know it's going to be
amazing. When I do go out I like these sort of Bushwick raves and
parties, where there's a lot of deep house.
Chelsea styles the Monica Vinader Siren Odyssey cuff in
Aquamarine with the 18ct Yellow Gold Siren Scatter ring.
Who is your favourite DJ in New York?
I've got so
many favourite DJ's - that is such a hard question! New York DJ,
Questlove, is brilliant, I feel like he's a New York favourite. He
can play tracks that would be a classic wedding tune but then he
throws in something like a Johnny Cash mixed to a Hip-Hop track.
Another DJ I'm loving right now is NU, he's Peruvian. I saw him
play recently, totally different from Questlove.
What's your perfect night of New York dinner and
For drinks I'd
head to Hotel Delmano or Maison Premiere, keeping it all in
Brooklyn. For dinner, there are so many amazing places. I have to
say my favourite restaurant is Café Mogador in Brooklyn a few
blocks from my apartment which serves Lebanese/Mediterranean food;
everyone loves it. I've never taken anyone there and who has had a
bad meal. It's always packed and impossible to get a table. I eat
there three times a week! For dancing, head over to Bushwick for
House of Yes.
As you said, as a DJ you deal with battling with late
night flights, early flights, and strobe lights. Where do you head
to in NYC for a caffeine fix?
I was a
die-hard Blue Bottle girl. I was going there every day, and they
have a miso cookie that's so yummy. There's this coffee place
that's near to my Pilates place and I go there at least five times
a week. I've also discovered this place called Café Beit on Bedford
and North 7th, they make their own almond milk in there which is
like heaven on earth for me.
Chelsea pictured at her Brooklyn home.
How did first come across the Monica Vinader?
I first came
across the brand about a year or so ago. I got invited to pick a
few pieces out at their flagship store in Chelsea in London where I
grew up; it felt so nice and British. The jewellery is really
beautiful, very feminine, chic and quite simple. You can wear it
every day and I like that because a lot of the jewellery I'm
usually drawn to is quite funky. There is nothing nicer than having
really beautiful, classic rings.
What would you engrave on a Monica Vinader piece?
personal, maybe a special date or the initials of someone who's not
around anymore. But I also think it's nice to get your own date of
birth or initials.