Next gen designers: Lisa Liu

Images via Lisa Liu

Cream of the crop.

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is upon us, and once again the country’s best graduate designers are ready to put on a great show.

The National Graduate Showcase brings together the shining stars from all of Australia’s top tertiary institutions. Supported by Target and Fashion Journal, this year you can catch it on March 9 at the Royal Exhibition Building. Tickets are available here.

Ahead of the show, we thought you might like a look at this year’s batch of designers.

Meet Lisa Liu from University of Technology Sydney.

What inspired your collection?

My graduate collection, Shooting Kites, is a response to the masculine military uniform. The heroic image of being tough and unbreakable becomes something soft and feminine, revealing the vulnerability underneath. I was heavily influenced by WWII air force uniforms and utilitarian design.

Can you briefly describe it?

It’s bold and colourful, not too serious. It has references to the military uniform through shape and construction. I also worked with print techniques that can be seen throughout.

What materials did you work with?

I’ve always loved utilitarian garments and worked with materials that reflect that. I used waterproof nylons and synthetics — there’s something about the way these fabrics sound moving against each other. I had also collected ex-army uniforms which I repurposed. The hardware store became my second home. I was really into parachute cord, reflective tape and metal bits.

What does the collection name Shooting Kites represent?

When I first started my research, I briefly looked into prison uniforms. There was this phrase about ‘shooting kites’ that meant ‘sending messages,’ and I liked the idea of my collection being a message.

How has the role of gender influenced your collection?

The military uniform has always embodied the masculine ideal. It’s an image that embraces a spartan kind of minimalism, all buzzcut hair and no tears. We often sexualise these bodies in popular culture too. My collection disrupts this representation and asks, what happens when hyper femininity meets something traditionally masculine?

Have you incorporated any sustainable methods in your designs?

A little throughout my collection. I reused old garments which was challenging, but also a super fun process. I also designed garments so they could be worn in different ways — a jacket could be transformed into a backpack or sleeves removed to change the silhouette.

What’s the hero piece?

Ooh, honestly I’m not sure. People love the puffer jacket, but my favourite is probably the orange playsuit with the pink life vest. When I developed that look, it was the one thing I wouldn’t let go of.

What do you want to achieve with your collection?

I want people to take away a different perception of the military uniform. I also want to create a feeling of optimism because I think fashion can be optimistic. It’s the first real collection I’ve made as a designer so it’s a synthesis of what I’m about.

If you could design an outfit for anyone, who would it be?

Hands down, Rihanna — I love her attitude and how much fun she has with fashion.

What’s next after VAMFF?

I’m heading to the iD International Emerging Designer Awards in May which is really exciting. I have so much more to experience so I’d love to travel a bit more, work with other designers and creatives. Maybe focus more on custom pieces. I’m the kind of person who goes where the wind takes me.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’ll be 26 which is scary. I hope I’m not floating around as much and have more confidence in everything I do. I would like to have a label of my own or work with a designer I vibe with. I don’t usually think that far ahead, but it’s always great to live fast while you can.


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