National Graduate Showcase: Lisa Liu
The National Graduate Showcase is a prestigious runway celebrating the next generation of Australian fashion design talent. Handpicked from renowned design institutions and universities across the country, see Australia’s brightest graduate talent shine under the Royal Exhibition Building dome.
Lisa has been selected as one of twelve finalists to appear in the National Graduate Showcase.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from, where did you study?
I'm an emerging fashion designer from Sydney. I just completed my Bachelor of Design (Honours) in Fashion and Textiles at the University of Technology Sydney. I specialise in womenswear and my work is characterised by voluminous forms and colour.
Can you please tell us about your collection? What was the inspiration for it, and what is your favourite thing about your collection? What can people take away from your collection?
My graduate collection, SHOOTING KITES, is a response to the highly gendered military uniform. The military uniform represents this heroic masculine ideal that is often quite sexualised. We expect these bodies to be strong, tough and impervious. I wanted to subvert this representation and expectation by transforming the uniform into something soft and feminine, revealing the fragility and vulnerability underneath.
I was heavily influenced by air force uniforms from WWII and collected ex-army gear that I reworked into my collection. That's probably my favourite thing about it - that there's some old military in there, but you don't really notice it at first glance.
I want people to take away a different perception of the military uniform, but also to ignite a feeling of optimism. I like that fashion can be both fun and serious at the same time.
What journey/pathway led you to where you are now? Were you always intending to be a fashion designer? What is the most valuable thing you learnt while studying fashion design?
I wasn't into fashion when I was younger, I really wanted to be a biologist actually. During high school, I looked up to this girl in the year above me and she made her own clothes. I thought that was pretty cool, so I ended up giving it a shot and fell into fashion from there.
The most valuable thing I've learnt is there's no such thing as being finished. Given the time, I could spend forever perfecting something and even then, it still won't feel like it's completely done. And learning how to make peace with that feeling.
What do you think are the most important issues in fashion at the moment? As a new designer, what is something that you want to bring to the industry?
Diversity and waste are big issues in fashion at the moment. As a person of colour, building a label that celebrates diversity is so important to me. There's no excuse for labels not to be inclusive especially when fashion has such a global audience and reach. I also want to tackle the fast fashion mindset by questioning how we can extend a garment's life through construction, fabrication and multiple ways of wearing.
Who or what inspires you?
I'm inspired by historic garments and like to look at archives to start my research process. For my graduate collection, I went to museums and a lot of disposal stores to examine garments. Outside of fashion, I'm inspired by art. I love the work of Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama, something about the colour and compositions that really create a mood. I'm also inspired by the people I'm around and youth culture.
What do you do in your down time? What do you do to switch off from fashion?
I'm into pole dancing, I've been doing it for just over a year now. It's physically and mentally challenging in the best way possible. I also like to head to the beach, it's one of my favourite places and you can't help but feel calm.
What's in store for you for 2018?
Nothing too concrete yet. I want to travel a little and get more experience in the industry, collaborate with other creatives and do crazy things while I can. Of course, I'll keep designing and making things. Eventually, I'd love to start something up of my own!
National Graduate Showcase
Friday March 9
Royal Exhibition Building
Tickets now on sale