LABEL TO WATCH – LES ANIMAUX
Inspired by David Bowie’s strength of character and individualism and packed with a bag full of experiences (she has worked for Viktor & Rolf amongst others), Lisa Jackson has just launched her label “Les Animaux”. With her love for tailored street wear and a no-age / no-gender / no-season approach, Lisa touches fashion’s current nerve…
“It is important for me that the clothing is largely non-age specific, so the customer is united by an attitude and approach to life. You can be as bad ass in your 70’s as in your twenties… there are so many cooler older women around, I hate that they are excluded from wearing a lot of collections. The gender fluid portion comes largely from the more tailored, masculine pieces. Oversize jackets, men’s trousers, sweatshirts, oversized shirts“.
We have met a passionate designer and talked about the future of fashion, shopping off the runway, and the importance of social media.
Lisa promised to deliver innovative but wearable collections – let’s watch, wear and have fun!
WTL: You just launched your label – can you please tell us a bit about the concept and story of the brand?
LJ: The brand name is “Les Animaux” as I wanted the collection to be a collaboration. Fashion is never just about one person, there is always a team that supports, and I wanted something that reflected that. It also has a basis in humanism, whatever your species, gender, race, age or sexual orientation we are all inhabiting the same planet and at the basic level all are animals.
The brand code is “Distorted femininity with a new wave attitude”. I wanted to create clothes that are innovative but always wearable, have an attitude but with impeccable production values that will not date. There will be no seasonal concepts, so if someone buys pieces from the collection one season, they will not be tied to a theme that is immediately outdated. This allows us to create something more timeless.
Also, 30% of the collection is gender fluid to reflect my love of wearing menswear and a less rigid view of gendered apparel.
WTL: Which three words sum up what LES ANIMAUX stands for?
LJ: Three words hyphenated – so cheating slightly…. Distorted-Femininity. New-Wave.
WTL: What is your vision for the label?
LJ: The most important thing for me is that the collection has an easily discernible brand identity that is consistent into the future. Innovative styling and fabrication supported by impeccable tailoring. The aesthetic is modern, tied to a new wave code of distortion with elements of punk, sometimes challenging, but always underpinned by femininity.
WTL: What kind of woman is wearing your designs?
LJ: The ideal is to mix edgier pieces with the more feminine ones – sometimes that happens but generally the customer seems to split into one of two camps: either Avant-garde or more feminine. It is important for me that the clothing is largely non-age specific, so the customer is united by an attitude and approach to life. You can be as bad ass in your 70’s as in your twenties… there are so many cooler older women around, I hate that they are excluded from wearing a lot of collections. The gender fluid portion comes largely from the more tailored, masculine pieces. Oversize jackets, men’s trousers, sweatshirts, oversized shirts. What unites these diverse customer elements is an unconventional attitude, a desire to stand out from the crowd… just a little.
WTL: In a dream world, whom do you want to see wearing LES ANIMAUX?
LJ: Louise Brooks, the silent movie actress.
WTL: What inspires you?
LJ: Just existing in our world – inspiration is everywhere if you look around you.
WTL: Do you have a style icon or muse?
LJ: Patti Smith, Kim Gordon, David Bowie, strength of character and individualism is to me a huge part of being stylish. These three used fashion on their own terms.
WTL: How does a typical design process start?
LJ: I carry two small notebooks in my bag at all times. I fill them whenever I get stuck on a train or have 5 minutes to spare and they form the basis of the collection. Ideas can be fleeting and I never want to miss one.
WTL: How important is sustainability for you and your brand?
LJ: Sustainability is incredibly important to me. We use no leather, fur or feathers and we all are very conscious to not waste anything… even photocopy paper gets used twice in our studio.
WTL: What are your thoughts on the current developments in the fashion industry (the speed of seasons, designers leaving, shopping directly off the runway,…)?
LJ: Times change so quickly at the moment, the whole industry feels like it is re-inventing itself. When I started in this business I had the luxury to define the way that I worked, to only retain the parts of the process that made sense to me and work at my own pace. In order to consistently develop excellent products you need proper design time, otherwise ideas are never properly developed.
Regarding the moves some companies are taking to sell directly from the catwalk, I personally think it is important that people have time to covet the items they see in the shows, half the pleasure for me is anticipating and planning a new purchase. If everything is so immediate it becomes transitory and that to me is a retrograde step.
However it is important to embrace the changes digital media have made to our lives and make some adjustments. We have just launched our online store and my plan is to create some exclusive pieces throughout the season that we preview on Instagram or Facebook and that then can be purchased immediately in the store.
WTL: You have worked for Viktor & Rolf or Alice by Temperley and lived in London, Hong Kong, New York and Paris – how would you summarize these experiences in one sentence?
LJ: I feel enriched by the amazing people whom I have met and places I have seen.
WTL: What was the best advice someone ever gave you (who was it)?
LJ: “Don’t let the external affect the internal” my dressage trainer in the US, who also at times felt like my therapist and is an extremely wise and kind woman.
WTL: How would you describe your personal style?
LJ: Tailored street wear.
WTL: What style advice would you give?
LJ: It sounds trite to say, but I feel everyone owes it to themselves to look beyond fashion and define themselves upon their own terms, not buy into the vagaries and fads of seasonal fashion. Once a person understands whom they really are they should present themselves and dress accordingly, this to me is the genesis of style.
WTL: If you could shop anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
LJ: Beacon’ Closet, Greenpoint, New York. Anywhere in Tokyo… I love to be surprised and all of these places have this in common.
WTL: Who is currently your favorite a) model b) designer c) musician / artist?
LJ: Favorite model: Stella Tenant. Favorite designer: Comme and Rei Kawakubo. Musician: Tricky or Beck. Artists: Mark Rothko, Barabara Hepworth.
WTL: Who or what should in your opinion be “watched”?
LJ: My two pugs, they are always misbehaving…
WTL: Where are you currently based and what do you love the most about “your” city?
LJ: I live in London, there is such a mix of cultures it is so vibrant, like the city is bursting with potential. It is an exciting time.
WTL: Heels or sneakers?
LJ: Used to be heels, now sneakers.
WTL: How important is social media for you personally and for your work?
LJ: I personally love social media, my favorites being Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I know some people find it alienating and unhealthy but I always feel somehow connected with people after I have viewed the photographs they have chosen to share. It is incredibly important for the business and almost all of our PR budget is spent on social media. It is very empowering as a brand to be able to reach out to connect directly with people.
WTL: What are your top 5 Instagram accounts?
LJ: This is a tricky one, so many great accounts, but if I had to choose 5 and only 5 it would be in no particular order… The Concrete Project, Pugs of Instagram, The Fat Jewish, Galopine, and Camille Bidault Waddington.
WTL: What do you like to do when you are not designing?
LJ: I love to read and spend time with my dogs.
WTL: What’s your happiness secret?
LJ: Be conscious and every time you feel yourself frown just stop and take a minute to adjust your expression. I truly believe happiness is a choice that we can all make.
WTL: Can you tell us your favorite dish and recipe?
LJ: I am a terrible cook, but I love traditional English food, bread and butter pudding, cucumber sandwiches, scones, crumpets… for me food is a social thing and meals are always better shared with friends and family.
WTL: What is your secret beauty and health regime?
LJ: Sleep is truly the most important element of my routine, without it I feel unable to properly function and exercise is essential for health and balance.
WTL: I could not live without…
LJ: …BBC Radio 4, it is my constant companion… oh, and tea!
WTL: What are the top 5 songs on your playlist?
LJ: I love music and it can profoundly affect my mood. Favorites are: Bon Iver/ Vollcano Choir, Bonobo, The Strokes, Beck, and Nirvana. Classically, I love Erik Satie.
WTL: What was the last book you read (and liked)?
LJ: Viv Albertine’s autobiography “Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys”. A true punk heroine and master of her own destiny.
WTL: Which movie would you watch again and why?
LJ: “Withnail and I” my favorite ever film, followed by “Kind Hearts and Coronets”
WTL: What is your favorite restaurant, bar and club?
LJ: I no longer drink, so am less likely to go out in the evening. Breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out and my favorite place to eat it is “The Wolseley” on London’s Piccadilly.
WTL: If you could leave us with one thought, what would it be?
LJ: Kindness is a vastly underrated quality.