A couple of years ago I met swimwear designer Lisa Kelly via a mutual friend who is a photographer. As we were updating our portfolios, our mutual friend borrowed a few pieces from Lisa's gorgeous collection for models to showcase and it was here that I fell head over heels in love with Zahra, a style which sold out in no time. Lisa and I reunited by fate at The Shangri-La Hotel when designer's debuted at this year's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and she was only too happy to introduce me to her breathtaking new Summer 12/13 collection. Originally from the Central Coast NSW, Lisa is a gorgeous blonde beauty with a relaxed and bubbly personality. Since the successful launch of Lisa Kelly Swimwear in 2009, 30 year old Lisa has discovered her long-time love of kaftans and to reflect the brand's movement has now changed the label to Lisa Kelly. The sun-loving designer took time out of her busy schedule to chat with us...
When did Lisa Kelly launch?
Lisa Kelly Swimwear launched into Australia in 2010 and has since launched into the US in 2012.
Exciting! You have worked for the Berlei, Morrissey and Oroton. Did this give you the drive to design your own pieces?
Working for such amazing companies has given me the experience to create my own brand with my own values. Since a very young age this is all I have wanted for myself: to design swimwear and lingerie.
What made you venture in to designing swimwear and kaftans?
I grew up north of Sydney in a small town where there wasn’t many options to be different so I was always sewing beads on my swimwear to make it look unique. I love summer - absolutely love it - and will do anything to avoid the winter months, so my life is about living an eternal summer! Summer to me is an easy life (conceptually) of outdoor lunches, beach swims and swimwear ... just all round cruising. The kaftan is a perfect piece of wardrobe to live this idyllic lifestyle.
Is the industry difficult to crack for a new and emerging designers?
It’s very difficult. It’s a tough industry to be in let alone to run your own business. There is lots of creativity and inspiration but also so much hard work that gets overlooked from anyone looking in. You need to have a crazy amount of energy and motivation to keep getting back up after each mistake you make (and there is plenty of those).
Can you share a few ways to wear a kaftan with readers?
That is the best thing about the kaftan, everyone wears them differently! I love to hitch mine up with gorgeous leather belts from a label called Buffalo Girl (made in Byron Bay) or even tie the longer ones up at the back so everyone can wear them completely different. A slip is the best thing to take them from day to evening, I’m wearing one of them to a wedding tomorrow with a pair of heels and a nude slip so they really are very transeasonal.
What advice can you offer to best care for delicate swimwear?
I wash all of my swimwear by hand and dry it flat. Make sure you get all of the salt water and chlorine out of it after every wear so the colours don’t fade too quickly.
In a few words, how would you describe the Lisa Kelly consumer?
Bohemian souled, relaxed, sun worshipping goddess.
When you design a new collection, where do you turn for inspiration?
I mainly turn to all of my travels. I’m fortunate enough to travel for my work and can sometimes find myself in places I never thought I’d see or meeting people I never thought I’d meet. I was on a boat off an island in Indonesia photographing the clearest water and coral and that is the inspiration for a new print we are developing. I love unique doors and windows and constantly find myself photographing them so really inspiration can be taken from absolutely anything and I think that is what makes the brand so special.
Lisa, we think you are gorgeous! Would you or have you ever modelled for your label?
Haha, thank you very much for that! I have been known to pop on a kaftan but by no means would I parade around in a swimsuit anywhere but the beach! At which case you’d rarely find me in anything else. Let's leave the gorgeous professional to models do the modelling - I think its best left at that!
After having a sneak preview of your new collection, we want more! What inspired you?
You will find one of the prints is inspired from collecting jewels and arranging them by photographs onto a screen. We then found some of Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana’s jewels and added them digitally to the print so you have a beautiful print with references from some of the world’s most historical fashion figures.
Who would you most love to see wearing Lisa Kelly?
I would love summer beauties like Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz and Nicole Ritchie to be one day photographed in Lisa Kelly. And would love local glamours like the Tozzi sisters, Jesinta Campbell and Rebecca Judd to all be brand ambassadors.
We want to indulge over your new collection! What makes you feel Spoilt?
I like to keep life simple so an afternoon glass of wine sitting with the sun on my shoulders with my fiancé and best friends. A platter of cheese in front of me and some fabulous Sunday beats overlooking the ocean... absolute perfection as far as I am concerned!
Keep an eye out on Spoilt for our amazing Lisa Kelly give away launching soon!