Ruth Negga Plays a Modern Pioneer Woman for the New Levi’s xKarla

Alison S. Cohn
·2-min read
Photo credit: Matthew Welch
Photo credit: Matthew Welch

From Harper's BAZAAR

Boot-cut jeans are back, according to Karla Welch, stylist to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Tracee Ellis Ross, Sarah Paulson, Olivia Wilde, Elisabeth Moss, and Ruth Negga, who stars in the campaign for her new Levi’s xKarla capsule collection.

“We are definitely ready for the boot cut!” says Welch of the collection’s key style, based on a classic men’s Levi’s 517 boot-cut jean. “And this one is a perfect length—not too long, not too short, just right! Boyfriends will never be over, neither will the skinny! It’s just time to bring a boot into the closet.”

Welch, who is also the founder and creator of the brand xKarla, first collaborated with Levi’s in 2018 on a collection that looked to the future, with the vintage pieces we’ll be wearing on Mars in 200 years. This new range—which in addition to dark indigo denim includes a long-fringe cocoon trucker jacket in khaki cord and a velvety dark green wide wale corduroy blazer-and-trouser set—takes its cues from a bit closer to home.

“It’s inspired by Karla’s mother’s childhood home on the prairies of Alberta, Canada, and all of the pieces have a story,” explains Karyn Hillman, chief product officer of global brands at Levi Strauss & Co. “We are huge fans of Karla’s and always have the best time working with her on our collaborations.”

Photo credit: Matthew Welch
Photo credit: Matthew Welch

Adds Welch, “I think I’m missing my parents and longing for some big open spaces. And I’m definitely ready for some cold weather!”

Welch, who was raised in Powell River, British Columbia, grew up wearing overalls, so she created a pair of flared wide-leg overalls in washed black. The rust-colored, hunting-style corduroy puffer vest is based on one that her brother wore as a teen in the ’80s. “Flannel, cords, and denim were really just part of life in Canada,” Welch says.

With the Canadian border still closed to all nonessential travel, when it came to shoot Negga for the Levi’s xKarla look book, Welch and her husband, photographer Matthew Welch, found a grassy stand-in for a prairie near where they live in Topanga, California.

Negga, for one, is sold on the modern pioneer woman lifestyle. “Something that is magical and you knew you’d been looking for it but not quite sure what it was ... until ... oh, flip ... it’s that!!!” is how she describes the xKarla X factor. “And then you want to wear it in the bath. At a store. Zooms. Taking the bins out. Funerals. Hikes. Etc. Like when you were six.”

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