Author Archives: Charlotte Firmi

Elly Admiration

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Elephants by name and very much elly-like by nature, our Elly Herd is a tight female family group. We of course adore the male members of our herd, but we take extra care of women workers around the world and take pride in being able to do so. Like ellies, we are surrounded by a doting collective of “aunties”, also known as clients, who encourage us with their constant praise of new products and designs made for us by skilled artisans. Lovingly referred to as the matriarch of our herd, I have a deep admiration of these magnificent animals.

Always astounded by their intelligence, it still humbles me that elephants can be so compassionate, altruistic and playful considering their immense size! Just like us, ellies love to hug and do so by wrapping their trunks together – adorable! What’s even more heart-warming is that some elephants suck their trunks for comfort, like humans suck their thumbs! Self-awareness is a trait possessed by very few animals but elephants are so cute with their 5 inch eyelashes that they actually love to look at themselves in the mirror! Vain, moi?!

As you may know, I love to travel and I make sure to visit elephant sanctuaries and orphanages as often as possible. Elephants have amazing memories and are even able to recognise and distinguish human voices so when in India, I make sure I pop in on one of my favourite ellies, Lakshmi, to deliver big bunches of bananas by the kilo! We love going bananas together! Ellies can tell the difference between human languages, male and female voices, friendly voices and those associated with danger so please be especially kind to them at all times and remember, “an elephant never forgets”.

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Here’s a fun fact – did you know that unlike me, elephants can’t jump? They keep one foot on the floor at all times and despite their weight, the African elephants stand on their tippy toes! I love to jump around, singing, dancing and skipping whenever I can. We do however both love to swim but much to my chagrin, I don’t have a built in trunk for a snorkel – if only!

Here’s a fascinating fact – African elephants can be recognized by their large ears shaped like the continent of Africa whereas Asian elephants have smaller ears shaped like India! Wonders of nature never cease to amaze me.
I must admit though, there are 2 aspects of elephant life I am glad I don’t share with the ellies. The first is the need to feed for 12 to 18 hours a day! If this were the case, I would most certainly be the size of an elly! The second is being pregnant for 2 years – imagine that!!! No thank you. Not to mention giving birth to a 120kg baby!

Here’s a cute fact – elephants are born blind and so rely on their mummies heavily for guidance during the first few years. They have quite poor eyesight and are colourblind but can see in the dark. They communicate with one another using sound, touch and scent and have excellent hearing of up to 8km away!

Along with having the largest brain in the animal kingdom, elephants also have an astonishing number of muscles in their very useful trunks – 40,000! Their eating habits create a huge amount of waste per week which in turn keeps the soil fertile and also disperses tree seeds. Without actively knowing it, elephants play a hugely important role in balancing natural ecosystems; they trample forests and dense grasslands, making room for smaller species to co-exist and create water holes & footpaths used by other wildlife, literally changing the landscape around them.

Impossible not to admire and respect them,right?
Ellies, we love you!

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Sadly, these gentle, playful giants are in danger. There are a number of wonderful charities that research and monitor elephant behavior and work to protect elephant communities from ivory poachers and traffickers, while promoting human-elephant coexistence and spreading awareness around the globe. At La Galeria Elefante, we have a number of products available for which we donate 100% of the profits to Elly Charities. Also, if your purchase has an elephant on it, we donate 10% of the sale. Please do find out more and see what you can do to help.
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Victoria’s August Favourites

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Inspired by nature, crystal clear waters and bright blue skies, the constant chirping of cicadas and birdsong always makes me smile. Enjoying dancing on my own and singing out loud at home, I wanted to share some of my August favourites with you. The background story behind many of the pieces we make is often lost, but my passion will never falter and I take great joy in sharing these stories with you…

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Our SEWA Eye Cushion, designed by Victoria, is one of our signature cushions. Ethically made, supporting fair trade, this handmade eye-shaped cushion has beautiful embroidery, sequinned eyelashes and has a running kantha stitch around the outside. Available in various colours, all on a white base, it is made by SEWA, the Self Employed Women’s Association in Delhi. SEWA helps workers to achieve their goals of full employment and self reliance, while overcoming daily challenges. Find this cushion in-store or online SEWA Eye Cushion.

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The ‘Jody Dress’, designed by Victoria Made With Love & Laughter, is one of our signature pieces, repeated annually in gorgeous new hand block prints and produced by a small family business we’ve worked with for many years. The Jody Dress is the ideal all-seasons, bohemian super-dress! The soft light cotton is elegant, breathable and comfortable in summer, the shape, featuring a frilled, rounded neckline and long, blouson sleeves, is versatile and flattering on all body shapes. It looks great loose, accessorised with a belt, or with a sweater thrown over in colder months. An incredible 14 meters of fabric is used on the six-tiered, floor length skirt, making it the ultimate dress for swirling and dancing!

Available in-store & online Jody Dress.

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The ‘WIF Silk Lace Waist Dress’ is designed by Victoria Made With Love & Laughter and made for us by the Women’s Interlink Foundation. WIF is a movement in Calcutta that rescues vulnerable young women, taking them out of human trafficking, giving them a home and teaching them a skill. The Women’s Interlink pieces are ethically produced and made with pride, providing shelter and comfortable working conditions for all.The midi-length dress features a lace waistline and comes in 2 beautiful silk-screened prints. They are only created in small quantities and each dress is personally signed by the woman who made it.

Available in-store & online WIF Lace Waist Dress.

Producing in small quantities not only provides uniqueness, but also ensures quality. Our glitter signs, designed by Victoria, are made for us by a small family run business we adore, in the North of India. The father, son & daughter team bring our designs to life with incredible skill, using crafts passed down from one generation to the next.Available in large, small, silver and gold, we offer the sentiments of ‘Love’, and ‘Peace’, but also ‘Fuck-It’ if you’re feeling particularly mischievous! ‘Magic’ will be back in store soon and we also have glitter wings, glitter ampersands (&) and a glitter tree of life.

Available in-store & online Glitter Signs.

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Supporting and promoting disappearing crafts has always been close to our hearts. The more intricate and sustainable the craft, the more important it is to keep it alive! Promoting traditional craftsmanship is essential to highlight the heritage of a country, through the use of local materials, preserving traditional knowledge and talents. The ‘Ibiza Espadrille Sandals’ are the perfect bohemian footwear for island-hopping in the sunshine. Handmade in Ibiza, true to a traditional Balearic craft, they are meticulously worked from indigenous natural cactus fibres and finished with a rubber sole. The string technique allows your feet to breath and because they are so light, it feels like you are walking barefoot!

These Ibiza Espadrille Sandals can also be made to order, so if you have a particularly enchanting foot shape or shoe size, please do get in touch before you order.

Available in-store & online Ibiza Espadrille Sandals.

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Come with us on a journey to enjoy vibrant colours, tactile textures, delicious scents and inspiring artistry, all lovingly designed to lift up your senses and spin you around with joy. We’re all about living life, loving laughter and creating the energy of beauty wherever we go.

My Ibiza-Life in Lockdown

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Home. Such a different place for us all now, as we learn to adapt and manage our lives in this temporary lockdown, wherever we are. Without any social life or other places to go, our homes have literally become our everything. The space where we are 24/7. The space that holds all. The space in which we relax, connect with our families, work, create, dream. My Ibiza life in lockdown is with my husband François, a doctor and epidemiologist, our son Emile, a musician and photographer, and our spirited dog Pluto. We all usually travel a lot for our work. It’s a very different reality now to the trip I had planned to India end of March, to finalise our summer collections, oversee the second collaboration for John Lewis, and start a new project with an NGO empowering young women. So I’m finding new ways to keep occupied.
I wake up around 7am to the sounds of birds and with a cup of hot water and squeezed lemon picked from our tree, I wander barefoot in my pyjamas into the garden. We’re very blessed and eternally grateful to live in Ibiza and love our home which is a 17th century old finca (farmhouse) in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by sheep and pine trees, with a fabulous panoramic view of the valley and hills beyond. We have renovated and restored the property using local materials: stone for our one metre thick walls, and olive and juniper wood beams for the ceilings. It has a cosy feel, styled by me with unique crafted textiles, art and furniture from the shop and sourced on my travels, perfect for lounging comfortably and dreaming (my speciality!).
Sipping my hot lemon, I stroll amongst our newly planted vegetable patch and ponder what I plan to do that day. Once dressed, I take Pluto for a walk around the property and neighbouring ruin. This is my hour for contemplation and meditation. To empty my head. Then it’s yoga via Zoom with my dear friend, yoga teacher and mermaid-swimming partner Vivianne. It’s the best start to the day, to feel balanced, stretched and grounded. Afterwards breakfast and coffee with François and back on Zoom for a work meeting. Zoom has opened up an amazing new virtual world for so many – for self-care, working, connecting with family and friends and even sharing dinner dates.
From my studio in the pine forest, I’ve been loving slowing down and getting creative to keep grounded and focused. Painting with oils, decorating branches for display and taking this unique opportunity to update our website with the support of my wonderful Elly team. With the new focus on our homes, we are expanding our homeware collection available online and in the Ibiza shop, which we hope will be able to re-open soon. We have some incredible pieces to share with you, to suit all budgets and are still delivering worldwide, helping to transform your homes. You may also find our styling services to be useful, so do get in touch if you’d like me to help you re-create the laid-back, colourful, bohemian look typical of La Galeria Elefante in your own home and garden.
It’s at this time of year that the island is in full Spring bloom, with carpets of brightly coloured flowers stretching across the fields and am so grateful for the smell of pine and waking up to bird song. I wake up counting all the different sounds and it’s inspired me to find out more about the different local species. Everything feels slower now and detached from previous routines. As a family, we have spent time chitchatting, cooking together, listening to Emile play his guitar, generally lounging, doing yoga together and dreaming.
Embracing this time for new patterns and ideas to settle and to keep a fresh and open heart and mind. Time for deep reflection and to reconnect to our own personal values. I have personally enjoyed researching other women’s NGO projects that we can support in the future, to empower women and artisans. One close to my heart is an NGO focused on educating young women in India on issues regarding menstruation and helping the supply of sanitary towels so that girls can go to school and not feel ashamed. I’m excited to share more with you when this is all set up.
One of the beautiful gifts we have all witnessed in lockdown has been the genuine care, love, encouragement and nurturing for humanity that everyone has shown – either on social media, the public workers and medical teams or our neighbours. Looking ahead, I do hope this time we’ve had to pause and reflect will see us continue to be compassionate with each other and more respectful of Mother Earth and her seas. I’ve watched numerous videos of dolphins playing close to the shores here and even in the harbour in Ibiza town. How amazing! I long for the moment when we’re allowed to visit the beaches and swim again or go boating in our old wooden fishing boat.
I leave you with a couple of small gifts from my family – a playlist prepared by Emile, and our favourite vegetarian recipe for Springtime, our Spring Vegetable Parsley Pesto Tart.
Sending love, courage and strength from the top of our hill to you all.
Stay safe.

Playlist by Emile
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Spring Vegetable Parsley Pesto Tart
375g Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
4 new potatoes – thickly sliced
½ head broccoli – broken into small(ish) florets
1 leek – thickly sliced
8 asparagus spears – woody ends trimmed and sliced into 5cm lengths
100g fresh or frozen peas
4 spring onions – thinly sliced
200ml double cream or soya cream
40g bunch fresh parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp pine nuts
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vegetable stock powder
A little milk or soya milk to glaze
Unroll the pastry and roll it a little more thinly to create a slightly longer, thinner rectangle, then cut it into two equal sized rectangles.
Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper or baking parchment, and place one of the rectangles on the tray, leaving the other aside for now.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then add the sliced potatoes.
After they’ve been cooking for 4 minutes, add the broccoli and leek.
After a further 4 minutes, add the asparagus and peas, then after 2 minutes, remove from the heat, drain & return to the saucepan, add the spring onions and set aside to cool.
In a hand blender or food processor, blitz the cream, parsley, lemon zest, pine nuts, salt and stock powder together into a sauce. Pour the sauce over the vegetables, and stir to combine until all the vegetables are evenly coated.
When they are cool, carefully pile the vegetables into the centre of the pastry, leaving at least 2cm border around the edges. If there is some creamy sauce in the bottom of the saucepan, pour this into the centre of the pile of vegetables so that it doesn’t spread to the edges of the pastry. Brush a little water around the edges of the pastry, then place the second rectangle of pastry over the top.
Press the edges together firmly with your finger to seal together, then use a fork to crimp the edges to make it look pretty. Use the back of the blade of a sharp knife to gently score lines in the top of the pastry, then brush the whole lot with milk or soya milk.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and the pastry is cooked
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Victoria Made With Love & Laughter – The Label

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Take a life-long wanderlust and passion for global textiles and crafts, add a natural curiosity for the exquisite, sprinkle this with childhood fairytales and the bohemian beauty of Ibiza, and you have the deliciously eclectic Victoria Made With Love & Laughter label. Designed by the owner and creative force of La Galeria Elefante, Victoria Durrer Gasse, the label features chic fashion, accessories and homeware collections that give you the freedom to express yourself. Each piece tells its own story. Either unique or produced in small quantities to ensure its authenticity. And expertly crafted by small family businesses and NGOs around the world. Celebrating artisan communities from India to Madagascar, Guatemala to Ibiza, we’ll take you on a journey when you shop with us.

The clothing range features floaty boho dresses in soft cottons and hand block prints as well as tops, tunics, coats, jackets, trousers, skirts and jumpsuits in cosy cashmeres, wool, hand spun silk, silk satins and vibrant velvets. The popular ‘Frilly Rock’ bikini and our ‘Triangle’ Bikini that comes in a pouch which doubles as a beach purse available in our swimwear range in the most gorgeous cotton and silk prints. Although many pieces are unisex, new for 2020 is our menswear collection of cotton hand block printed long sleeved shirts and swim shorts in bright hand block prints with contrasting lining.

Our luxury accessories consist of beautiful scarves in cashmere, wool, soft cotton, velvet and silk, some plain and others in hand block prints, botanical prints or hand embroidered. A wonderful selection of bags, including some twisted vintage velvet designs made from antique ceremonial hats with ribbon and funky button details. Cummerbunds in liberty prints and kantha-stitched cottons, wool slippers, block printed eye masks and pyjamas and an extraordinary collection of jewellery.

The whimsical homeware collection covers an expanding line of soft furnishings – cushions with gorgeous hand embroidered details, vintage fabric cushions with velvet and ribbon details, silk velvet blankets with silk ball trim, hand crocheted bedspreads, ribbon curtains, macrame curtains with crystals, hand embroidered tea towels, pillow cases, lavender filled velvet nap cushions, pouches and eye masks. To adorn your walls, signature artworks include hand made signs in the shape of a wing or eye, or with the messages ‘love and peace’, ‘magic’ and the ever popular ‘fuck-it’. From her studio nearby, Victoria also makes original bird nest lamps and lampshades to decorate your home.

Other labels by Victoria include ‘Sunny Day’, a cotton casual-wear collaboration with Penny McIvor, made by the Women’s Interlink Foundation. Partnerships include Monsoon, Urban Outfitters, John Lewis & Partners and Victoria is always open to further collaborations. Victoria Made With Love & Laughter fashion, accessories and homeware pieces are available exclusively online, in La Galeria Elefante concept store in Santa Gertrudis, Ibiza and in pop-ups around the world. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to journey with us on new adventures.

Atzaró – Ibiza fashion show 2019

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It’s always a pleasure to be invited to take part in the yearly Atzaró Ibiza Fashion Show. As one of Ibiza’s adored five-star country hotel and spas, Atzaró is the ideal location for a fashion show of this calibre and this year, for their 15th anniversary celebration, the event was made extra special by wrapping the catwalk around the 43m long pool in the lower orange grove and palm tree lined garden.

The event was as fabulously glamorous as expected, with a VIP guest list, a celebrity photo-call & of course live music throughout the evening. We were thrilled to be showcasing our pieces alongside other talented designers like RIXO, De La Vali, Toral-Shoes, Isabel Moore, Yasmine Eslami, B.ikaat, Johnny Mesq, SPRMRKT, Georgina Goodman & World Family Ibiza.

Huge thanks once again to the whole Atzaró team for all their hard work in putting together this event, attended by over 2000 smiley faces. We had a ball and can’t wait for next years’ event!

Women Empowering Women


In an attempt to aid the ongoing struggle to address poverty and injustice in the workforce in developing countries, we work closely with a number of different NGOs around the world and are always happy to be introduced to new ones.
Victoria’s sourcing trips to far away places have led her to form solid relationships with talented artisans in foreign lands, making her extremely aware of the need to protect dying crafts by encouraging fair working conditions. An intrinsic need to reinforce these working conditions and a love of intricate embroidery and precision needlework, go hand in hand with Elly’s Fair trade clothing ethics. This made SEWA the perfect NGO for us to partner with.

SEWA is the Self Employed Women’s Association; a group of women who have become strong & determined through unity and their support of one another. SEWA’s mandate is to strengthen women through establishing a common identity as informal workers, and to empower women with properly and fairly paid salaries. A major accomplishment in itself, SEWA became a registered Trade Union in the early 70s and has been going from strength to strength ever since.

Fair trade from a distance

Learning to work remotely with artisans is a challenge but the experience is incomparable; we are always thrilled with the end product and love working as a team. Laughing together at the end about the “lost in translation” details is heart-warming and we wouldn’t change it for the world.

Many of our gorgeous fair trade clothing, cushions & homewares are made especially for us by SEWA, as well as an increasing number of pieces of clothing from the VICTORIA label. Victoria’s daydreams become ideas, these ideas become sketches, the sketches become detailed photos which are then sent to the lovely SEWA ladies who turn these specifications into beautiful pieces of embroidered art.
Over the years, our SEWA products have become increasingly popular and we love our selection of lavender filled embroidered pouches, scatter cushions, floral & under the sea cushions with heartfelt motifs on them, colourfully embroidered tea towels, hand loomed cottons and linens, bags, clothing and more!

It is very comforting to know that these pieces are made with love & laughter in surroundings & circumstances that are improving by the day and that your purchase is so much more than just an over-the-counter exchange.

Working With NGOs & Small Businesses

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Elly and Ethical trading

Made from the heart. Working alongside NGOs enables us to support women workers and their communities around the world. We support Ethical trading in South Africa & Indonesia, orphanages in Nepal and a number of NGOs in India.

Giving back is at the heart of Victoria Elefante’s ethos. Items designed by Victoria are handmade especially for us by artisans around the world in support of disappearing crafts, fair trade enterprises, NGOs and small businesses. A close relationship with NGOs such as SEWA, WIF & a Nepalese foundation allow our designs to be produced with love and with intricate attention to detail, while simultaneously improving working & living conditions for those that are struggling.

Supporting fair trade around the world

SEWA is the Self Employed Women’s Association in Delhi, which helps workers to achieve their goals of full employment and self reliance and overcome challenges.

WIF is the Women’s Interlink Foundation in Calcutta that rescues vulnerable young women, taking them out of human trafficking, giving them a home and teaching them a skill. Many of Victoria’s own designs are made by them as well as the production of her silk & cotton summer clothing collection and beach pieces…

NEPAL – We also work side by side with a foundation in Nepal, supporting local economy as well as traditional crafts & designs in a village in the mountains, helping women and children, and with an NGO that promotes change through a project of recycling plastic to keep the Himalayas clean.
We eagerly source gorgeous ethical trading pieces from small businesses around the globe that help disenfranchised people, such as Wonki Ware from South Africa.

Although we take pride in doing our part to sustain fair working conditions and ethical trading around the world, we also fully support & encourage local talent. We work closely with many island residents and always enjoy helping them promote their own brands within La Galeria Elefante whenever possible. Pop by at any time to see some fabulous pieces of art and keep an eye out for our blogs about these amazingly talented artisans.