My West London Life

Kara Iland

Kara Iland


Kara Iland, co-founder of members' fashion boutique, Rous Iland, reveals what it’s like to work with an old friend and what we should be wearing now

Where do you live and why?

Portland Road in Holland Park. We have everything we need right here with Clarendon Cross at the end of the road. I also love the park which is manageable in size, but still offers lots of variety.

What was the last show you saw?

Hamlet at the Donmar Warehouse.

What advice would you give a tourist?

Walk as much as possible.

What inspired you to start Rous Iland?

My business partner [Clare Rous] and I were both working as lawyers in the city. We loved fashion, but found we were so busy that our choices were limited to high street, high-end department stores or online which usually resulted in a return. We were inspired to create a fashion service which would get interesting pieces, one-off designs and up-and-coming designers to busy women who didn’t have the time or confidence to source them on their own. We offer complimentary style advice, open late in the evenings and courier pieces to our customers so that we can fit in with their busy lifestyle. Another aspect of inspiration was that there were plenty of networking and client entertainment activities which focussed on men, but not a lot for women. Rous Iland is not just a shop, but also a club where we hold a lot of events which are a great way for women to network and entertain their friends and clients.

How do you find running a business with your friend?

We have fun and completely understand each other’s thinking. It helped that we met at work so were not just friends, but were also accustomed to working together as colleagues.

Do you miss working in the city?

We are lucky to still be very much in touch with the city as so many of our clients work there – the fact that we are very familiar with that lifestyle is what allows us to truly understand them.

What are your west London cultural hits?

Holland Park Opera [Holland Park, W8]; hearing speakers monthly at the Kit Kat Club [The Pentagram, Pentagram Yard, W11;; 0845 003 8945], the Gate Cinema [87 Notting Hill Gate, W11] and the V&A [Cromwell Road, SW7].

What are you reading?

I’ve just finished Paulo Coelho’s Witch of Portobello.

What’s been your most memorable west London meal?

When we first moved into the area we stumbled upon Negozio Classica on Westbourne Grove and sat there for hours by the fire with my family, who were visiting from Australia.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

When we resigned from our jobs in the city, we told our boss the name of our new business which we had to change after he pointed out certain seedy connotations the name had which had not occurred to us…

How would you describe your fashion style?

A little bit eclectic, a little bit classic – I love mixing styles, textures and colours and I dislike anything that matches too much.

Who are your favourite designers?

One of the perks is that we can stock the boutique with all of my favourites. I have a weakness for antipodean and Danish designers. At the moment, my loves include Ginger & Smart for their stunning dresses in unique styles and prints; Nocturne for embellished detail; Louise Amstrup for her beautiful draping; Truffle for their gorgeous colours and subtly exquisite cuts; and Noir for their ethically-produced leather and suiting.
What should we invest in for A/W ’09? 
An unusual pair of tailored trousers (I am going for Marnie Skillings this season), a statement belt (Ginger & Smart’s belts can be worn in several different ways and give your old dresses new life and your waist definition) and a shaped dress with a slight shoulder (Karen Walker’s are a new modern classic).

What keeps you awake at night?

Remembering things I didn’t have time to do during the day.

What makes you happy?

Trawling through markets with my sisters, and evenings at the Ladbroke Arms [54 Ladbroke Road, W11] with Clare and our partners.

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Do you live in west London?

We used to live in Fulham, west London – but we left for Buckinghamshire in 1999, as my wife, Clare (also a doctor), and I thought we should go somewhere with decent grammar schools. Initially, I missed London, but now we love being out of town — and the friends we have made… Read more →

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Do you live in west London?

Yes, in Maida Vale.

What is your favourite thing about the area?

It feels like the countryside, so green and peaceful, and yet it’s only a 15-minute ride into central London so it’s perfect for any lifestyle.

Describe your perfect day in west London… any favourite

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