(images via mbfwms)
if at first australian label lisa blue’s spring 2012 collection presented at miami swim fashion week felt a little variegated in theme—with tribal motifs one moment and angels the next—nearly leading me to feel a bit frustrated in my understanding of the show, i was nevertheless pleased with designer lisa burke’s attempts to address many times of customer within a single presentation.
a backstage video interview with the designer on her inspiration also helped explain the various show themes. firstly, as ms. burke noted, she has long been a proponent of saving the whales, and themes to this effect usually appear in her work. this collection, titled ‘call of the whale’ included the requisite reference, but through very different means. their section, called ‘glactic stories,’ was an almost futuristic moment, in which the designer drew from ancient mythology telling stories of whales emerging from the star systems.
in the tribal subgroup, ms. burke explained to the sydney morning herald that she drew ideas from the work of aboriginal artist rosie miller. “I bought a stunning painting from Rosie with shells and from that I’ve created three different prints,” she said, adding that ” I paid for the painting, I paid to use the painting and we produced flyers about Rosie and her art that we will put in every single showbag in Miami” (as part of her quest to support the aboriginal people, she also brought model tamara flanagan, fourth from bottom, with her from australia to walk the show).
meanwhile, the third subgroup, ‘divinity,’ the designer responded to positive feedback from her collection a year ago with its angel motifs, and included various romantic-era notions and prints drawn from paintings, going for an aesthetic that was sweeter, more vintage, and less daring than the other sections, the extra material displaying the mural-like artworks.
thus, the collection itself was highly stylized, with the designer noting that, at various points, the collection included metallic panels, cut-outs, studs, and a print of a john waterhouse painting, while nbc points out peacock feather motifs and a jean luc bozzoli painting print. additionally, polka dots, colour-blocking, whale motifs, slightly abstract oceanic prints, and ruching graced the catwalk. embellishments on the models were heavy as well, with feathers, facial glitter or tribal paint, fringe, bangles, cuffs, and necklaces.
the show’s colour palette was quite varied as well, ranging from aqua, coral, purple, black, maroon, ballerina pink, and cobalt to metallic shades of gunmetal, silver, and gold. “It’s like an explosion of color,” ms. burke commented to nbc. and though particularly revealing bikinis and monokinis were of course on order, one-piece suits and high-waisted (as below) two-piece numbers were also liberally sprinkled throughout, a move which lead vainstyle to proclaim that the show “(b)y far, this collection encompassed some of the best designs and models for the entire [week]…Overall, the collection exceeded expectations this year while bringing new, stylish, inspiring trends to the swim world.”
after better understanding where the designer was coming from, having received concise explanations as to her creative sources, i was able to thus better appreciate the range itself. to be sure, i’m not convinced it all quite fit together, but perhaps with swim the goal isn’t the same as a ‘regular’ runway collection—that is to say, a designer doesn’t expect really any customers to buy more than a couple of looks from any single show (as contrasted with, say, a versace show, in which a client might purchase a whole collection, as a wardrobe for a season). and for that, it’s probably smart to appeal to several types of girl. i personally, for example, liked the ‘divinty’ section the best, though i’d expect many to better appreciate the tribal suits.
what was perhaps most appealing (and ms. burke seems to understand this) is the idea of looking good with a conscience. indeed, many don’t like to ‘wear their good deeds on their sleeve’ as it were, but lisa blue’s designs keep in touch with the flavours of the moment, ensuring the pieces blend in with the season’s trends and that no one has to. i’ll be frank and state that i (like, probably most) put my fashion before my morality and want something that looks good, but regardless, the idea of supporting the whales or aboriginal people does stir me and for many, this may be the deciding factor between lisa blue’s collection and another piece. i only wish that more designers worked this way, so we can feel smug as we shop, that we’re helping the rest of the world (and not necessarily wearing t-shirts emblazoned with green slogans for it, either).
(watch the final runway walk-through video here)