Tuesday, August 25, 2009

on the job: bliss lau

Everyone has their "industry heroes". Bliss Lau is one of mine.

The unrivaled Bliss Lau, Fall 2009

I had the pleasure of meeting Bliss back in the Fall of 2007 at a trade show in Las Vegas. In my experience, it was rare to meet actual designers at a trade show; usually you just met their sales rep. Often, people at shows were alarmingly unfriendly given they were trying to sell you something. Sad but true.

But there Bliss was, all glowy and cheerful, and we struck up a conversation. I thought her line was so innovative, so quietly sexy and so refined while still maintaining edginess. We didn't place an order because we weren't certain if it "was our customer", but I never forgot how incredible her jewelry designs were.

A few weeks ago, I contacted Bliss. I asked if she'd be willing to do an interview with me. Turns out, I am a lucky girl. Read more for the interview...

KK: What have you been working on?

BL: I have three collections for spring 2010. First, the Art Deco Collection which is made of thinner more delicate chains. This group is elegant and celebrates my love for that time in history particularly the 1920's New York lifestyle. The chains visually reference many Art Deco buildings in NY such as the Empire and Chrysler building while simultaneously channeling the writers and creatives of the time. I have one piece called the Gatsby and another called the Zelda (Zelda Sayre was a famous flapper married to F. Scott Fitzgerald). I enjoy the process of designing through the translation of history and lifestyle into the current fashion moment. Also, I think that the life and times of the Art Deco movement were similar to what we are experiencing now.

One of the other two collections I am working on for Spring 2010 is the Classic Leather Collection which I have translated into a hippy - African inspired group that welcomes fringe with open arms and challenges the boundary between clothing and jewelry. This collection is a continuation of my original idea spawned from a single day when I procrastinated in my studio and made the first body chain.

Lastly, the launch of my fine jewelry collection ‘Mysterious Concealment’. This group explores the concept of wearing jewelry in odd places, such as underneath your clothing or behind the ear. Through designing this group I ask the client, “Why do you wear jewelry? Who is it for?”. I wear jewelry for myself, the chain worn under your clothes is somehow sexy and empowering I think that when you are the only one who knows it's there the jewelry becomes devilishly delightful....sensual and private.

KK: Does your upbringing influence your work?

BL: I was raised in Honolulu Hawaii and it has influenced me greatly. My Chinese family immigrated there (grandparents) and at an early age I learned lei making techniques and traditional island crafts. The unique island culture from music to nature will always be a part of me and therefore will forever influence my work.

KK: How did you get started?

BL: After six years in business I feel like the start was a lifetime ago! In the beginning when I launched my handbag collection / senior thesis from Parsons, I was so young and unsure of the why and who my creations were for. I think that over time I have learned about myself as an accessory designer and discovered myself through my work.

Earlier in my career I was scared to design and show my most intimate and personal ideas. Designing is often times a fearful existence... you ask yourself, “What if no one likes it? What if it doesn't sell”, the concept of 'safe' is always hanging over your head, I think that to many people 'safe' equals 'sell' and I think now for me, this is no longer the case. Which makes everything so much more fun!

KK: What is something people don't know about your line of work?

BL: I think that the average person may never think about a few things. I think it is sometimes scary how intensely critical people are of designers and collections, they can be vicious! Sometimes one may forget just how an independent designer operates, we may be social creatures but often times designing is again an intensely personal thing.

I spend hours and hours alone in a room draping for each collection. We then create a product that is public. We open ourselves up to criticism and possibly conflict and sometime theft. I fear that our critics forget sometimes we are human, too.

Several gorgeous styles now available at
and specialty retailers worldwide.

Photos: Camerone Krone


proprietress said...

I love her work! I first saw a posting of her work ages ago on notcouture and fell in love with the nontraditional placement of her jewelry. Great to learn more about her and her inspiration!

Cecilia said...

I really wanted one of her bags awhile back. It was so beautiful! Am at work so i can't read the interview but I will definitely be back! :) Keep up the good work on your blog, Katy!

Christina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina said...

what I meant to say...(Stickler for typos.)

Wawawewa...Her pieces really make you think. Very bondage. Me likey.


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