Fresh off the catwalk at London Fashion Week, Lulu Liu is forging quite a career for herself with her bourgeoning label, Lulu Liu London. Taking inspiration from English royalty for her Spring/ Summer 14 collection, models took to the runway in a combination of whimsical hand drawn prints in blossoming fuchsias and ripe tangerine hues, beautifully dreamt up whilst Lulu was pregnant. Lulu takes the time out of her busy schedule to talk to Schön! Magazine about perfecting the art of balancing creativity with wearabilty and her desire to produce garments which exude the upmost sentiments of luxury and quality.
What was the inspiration behind your Spring/ Summer collection?
The SS14 collection is inspired by Anne Neville and her noble British background through silhouettes of Victorian-style infant wear combined with my hand-drawn prints which came to me in my dreams.
Your Spring/Summer collection featured a lot of pieces with a weaving/wicker basket effect, how was this achieved, what was it about this pattern/effect that inspired you so much to incorporate it into the collection?
Each strip has been done by hand, sewn into two and then woven together by hand. When I was working with my samples, I became obsessed with the Chessboard effect visually. I loved the optical illusion thinking it would work for my collection and it did work.
Who is the woman that you are designing for – how do you envisage her to be?
I design for a confident, independent and elegant woman who enjoys fashion. The Lulu Liu woman definitely stands out, but in a more subtle way.
How easy is it to achieve striking, cutting edge pieces which are both practical and wearable at the same time?
It¹s not easy; it’s definitely difficult. It took me a long time to get on the right track of the syncing between wearability and creativity. When I design, I always have my customer in mind. Will she wear it? In what location? On what occasions? So when I have this mindset, it¹s easier for me to adjust the pieces and to decide, ‘OK I¹m going to go in this direction because my consumer will wear this in this typical situation’. That helps me a lot.
How do you go about creating a collection, where does it all begin?
This season I didn¹t look for inspiration. It just all came to me. This whole collection is about the celebration of my newborn child, so it¹s very personal. I had dreams about the prints when I was pregnant. The colour palette started after the prints were being drawn on the paper, and then the silhouettes came from picking out clothes for my child. So everything just naturally happened and linked together in a very organic way.
How important is your Chinese heritage when designing pieces?
I really appreciate my background. I think it really helps me design-wise. I think for me, because I am so used to the Chinese culture, I want to be able merge the Chinese culture I have in my mind in a new way to be accepted internationally. My philosophy is not on the surface of the clothes; it¹s more like you have to wear them to be able to understand. It’s something behind the visual. I believe Yohji Yamamoto said when asked a similar question, ‘If you want a kimono, you should go to Japan and buy a kimono as a souvenir, but that¹s not what I am going to do’. I totally agree with that. Even though China is where I come from, I’d rather represent the traditional part of China as to what it means to me personally, in order to connect it to the rest of the world.
When showing a collection on the runway, how important are the theatrics/ music of the show, how much thought do you put into the whole production?
I was really chilled out this season. When at work, I was always listening to Birdy so that¹s what I used for the show music which made sense for the collection. About the leaves – initially I wanted to use flowers but after discussions with my stylist and hair team, we decided to use leaves because they¹re more fresh and natural, which were more in sync with my collection. We had these beautiful leaves hanging from the stage and it all connected. Everything just evolved very organically and easily.
Do you find it easy to stand out amongst other new up and coming designers whilst staying true to your vision/ aesthetic?
It¹s very challenging as it¹s so competitive to stand out, but my collections are always colourful so I think my pieces stand out quite easily. In the end, it¹s not really about standing out for me, it¹s about the quality which is definitely more important for a luxury brand.
What is next for Lulu Liu London?
We’re working very hard to make the brand more established on an international level. I have a whole new team at the studio to help make my company even more successful so I am very happy and looking forward to what the future holds in store for Lulu Liu!
Interview / Katie Shuff