1. Couture has come a long way in fashion since the early 1800’s. Your Fall/Winter 2013 collection is not only trendsetting but revolutionary. Where do you get the inspirations for your looks?
Well to start off, I have to say that I’m only showing in fashion shows because of the platform it gives to show how wearable my pieces are. So I’m not making seasonal collections like fashion designers and the pieces I create are actually apart of one big collection of the art that I will continue to add to my portfolio for years to come. I feel my sculptured works will never go out of style because art is timeless. Li Jon can be shown in an art gallery or on a runway because it possesses qualities suitable for both. I am more comfortable with the just the artist title though because I don’t even come close to having the skills or knowledge that a good fashion designer has. My inspiration for my art comes from the most obvious influence, clothing! I feel like I can’t take anything that has been made out of fabric and sculpt it into metal.
2. House of Li Jon is artistry in and of itself. How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
Li Jon would be edgy, sexy, luxury and definitely unique.
3. In a YouTube video your company created from Philadelphia Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2013, you described your collection as “Sculptured Couture” (Metal & Crystal) art showcase. Describe the general process you went through to design your Fall/Winter 2013 collection?
There are only basic directions when it comes to this craftsmanship; it’s like making jewelry but on a much grander scale. Believe me when I say, that this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted so far in life. The mental power and strain that it takes is insane, and I’ve definitely have had plenty moments of insanity. I figured this all out on my own with the basic 1, 2, and 3 steps they give to anyone chain-mailing for the first time. After that, you’re on your own. There are so many trials, errors, and mistakes that can take days to correct. Also, I knew I was creating art that was amazing to look at but how wearable is it? So getting it to be comfortable enough to wear and function-able enough to get into is a whole different drawn out process.
Just because I imagine it a certain way, doesn’t mean it was going to work once it’s complete. That being said, I first had to open and close tens of thousands of rings with my pliers (magic wand). And if there are crystals involved, I then need to link rings into thousands of crystals, and then start to connect everything one piece at a time. I don’t always draw my ideas on paper. Everything is put together in my head, and when I’m having trouble figuring out what to do, I’ll stare at a piece for hours sometimes. Meanwhile, I run all possibilities through my brain before I continue!
4. It’s interesting that in a recent conversation with you, I’ve learned that you did not go to school for design. However, you did not let that stop you in becoming a great designer. When did you realize design was something you wanted to pursue? And what advice do you have for up and coming aspiring fashion designer.
It’s funny that you asked that question. It was only two years ago when I had the yearning to start being creative again. It had been close to ten years since I’ve been in a creative mind space, and I had this idea to do something with hardware. While I was looking for materials, my now partner J.W, assisted in my search, and stumbled upon a “chain-mailing” website. I was very excited to find out that I can create my own look with these materials. But then I had to research the web because I didn’t want to copy anyone!
Just to give you a little bit more background about my art and fashion experience, I attended art programs as a teen, and won art contests for drawing and painting. However, I lost my creative spirit once I started high school. Had I went to the school of my choice, I would have kept my creative influence. I wanted to go to performing arts school, but ended up in an all-girls high school. My creative spirit was lost because every year I asked for art classes and I never received them. I ended up dropping out of high school due to family issues. And it didn’t help that I was bored to death do to the lack of interest of what I was being taught.
During that time, I met the late Philadelphia fashion designer, Lamar Johnson. At sixteen, I started working for him as a front desk person at his store Contemporary Couture. Throughout the years, working there I started spending more time in the back where all the magic happened. Although Lamar never let me sew, I would do fittings; cut fabric, press and anything necessary that needed to be done before garments went out. Those things I learned from Mr. Johnson definitely play large part in how I create art couture.
Sewing has never really been my strong suit but I’m learning every opportunity I get. Anyone breaking into anything in a world that has practically has seen and heard everything. You must ask yourself, “What is going to make you stand apart from the rest?” Also, you must set yourself apart from the rest in your unique ability to deliver your best. Also ask yourself, “I’m doing unique enough to be noticed?”
5. Already you have accomplished so much in your career as a fashion designer. What are some goals that you would like to fulfill in the future?
I would like to become a fashion designer. I want to expand my brand by taking the ideas from the metal and crystal pieces, and working them into fabric garments, shoes and bags. Li Jon Sculptured Couture is just one piece of the pie. House of Li Jon is our brand name which will consist of all those other aspects. Right now, I really enjoy what I’m doing but who’s to know if all this stress on my hands will give me early arthritis. (laugh) So I’ll just enjoy what I’m doing until the steam runs out!
6. What does fashion mean to you?
To me, fashion is how you expresses who you are visually or how you’re feeling. People can change their look daily based on what their feeling. I’m pretty shy, and I don’t have a real outgoing personality. The way I dress says more about me then I tend to do verbally.
7. How would you define Philadelphia fashion?
It’s ok. Only a handful of people go out of their way to really make fashion statements here. I believe it could use some spicing up to me!
8. Who are some of your favorite fashion designers and why?
I’ve never paid attention to fashion designers until recently so I don’t have a favorite. But I will say within the last few months, I found out that there was a fashion designer named Paco Rabanne who creates metal dresses, and has been doing so since I think the 60’s. So of course I adore him. I know how intricate the process is, and I share the same mind and spirit when it comes to creating couture made out of metal.
Mr. Balmain’s recent work has also caught my eye. Every fashion designers work is like art in my eyes. Everything is so detailed, and I am simply amazed! I recently attended Mercedes-Benz fashion week in New York, and saw Naeem Khan and Dennis Basso. I was very impressed with everything they made. I always thought the whole fashion world was kind of pretentious, but not so much anymore. Everyone there was so nice! And I found out high-fashion couture looks hundred times better in person! I like anything that gives off the “WOW” factor. Our motto is “Be the Centerpiece”.
Although my art is not hung on walls for people to appreciate, it’s even better when you wear it out for people to see. Every time I’ve worn a piece of LiJon, I either get compliments or someone wants to see it up close and touch it. Li Jon sculptured couture is definitely for the person who likes attention, and wants to be the centerpiece when they walk into a room
9. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
We are in the process of building our company website. I grew tired of creations sitting in my apartment collecting dust. Creating the website has been challenging, but I have a great partner that has been a tremendous help. If anyone would like to be a proud owner of one of my creations, they can contact us via email, and we create a masterpiece for them. I would like to have a more personal relationship with the people who buy my art. I put so much of myself and time into each piece, that I would like to be on a first name basis with those buying what I feel is a piece of me. Plus, they can also customize what they want as far colors and length. We are planning on maybe putting some pieces in small high-end boutiques. This will be one of our first steps until we figure out mass production of Li Jon.
Li Jon sculptured couture are exclusive pieces. Only 1 to 5 pieces will be created per collection. Each line will be retired at the fifth piece. This will make room for my creative ideas to be explored the best they can. No one wants to paint the same painting over and over again! We are expecting to be showcasing in Nolcha fashion week in New York, hopefully in September 2013.
Also, art shows are a must for me. So, you can also look out for us showcasing in art galleries. We are on INSTAGRAM @houseoflijon and YouTube: search Li Jon Sculptured Couture. You can contact my partner J.W@houseoflijon for any questions! House of Li Jon would like to thank Bold N Trendy for being a stepping stone in our journey.