Lilli’s work initially caught my eye because of the luxury take on women’s sportswear contrasted against her choice of shoot location - a litter-strewn abandoned estate. The contrast of soft pastel gauze against flashy neon brights highlighted this collection against many of the graduates' I had been coming across.
Upon reading further and subsequently meeting with Lilli, my fondness for this collection really rocketed. Lilli was inspired by a social class. The notion came to her when asked to choose something she was passionate about to structure her final year collection on at the London College of Fashion. Lilli laughs as she recalls her thought process, "I’m not passionate enough about anything other than fashion and going out and socialising!" Here, while pondering the social aspect, stemmed Lilli’s first idea for the collection. With the help from tutors at LCF and further research, Lilli’s collection, Welcome to the Chavistocracy, really begun to take form.
Growing up in self-confessed ‘rough’ Hackney, Lilli has first hand experience of different social classes and their varied existences within our modern society - an experience that drew her toward basing a collection on a modern social class. She tells me how she had always been curious of the fashions of ‘Chav’ subculture that were so prominent in the nineties and noughties in London. It had always intrigued and amused her and thus this became the perfect focal point and source of inspiration for her collection.
The hottest thing left of the British Empire.
Drawing also on the recent resurgence of luxe sportswear that refuses to budge from the current fashion circuits, Lilli’s results are a real treat for the eyes. Each detail is meticulously constructed so that her collection really is “the hottest thing left of the British Empire.” Lilli experimented with a fusion of fabrics to create the finished look, and bought cheaper materials into the mix to emanate the origins of the work. She placed elements together that she never dreamed would work alongside each other. When referencing the bold neon touches, Lilli says her uncertainty was shooed away by tutors, stretching her creative boundaries and resulting in a huge development in her style during the production of the final collection. Extra quirk was added in her final portfolio where she shows me pages of images with kitsch illustrations of her designs on top of her photographs.
While there are many humorous nudges, there is no denying that everything about this collection is executed damn well. Lilli explains how “this collection explores the ideas behind antisocial behaviour, focusing on what we know as ‘Chav’ culture and football hooliganism in the 80’s and 90’s. My garments blend together loose sportswear silhouettes with luxury finishes. Details like the ‘DAPPA’ logo and coat of arms visually incorporate my tongue in cheek approach to the concept.” The coat of arms has been replaced into two dogs, and Lilli even made jackets for dogs as a side project, playing up to the kitsch and light hearted aspects of her work.
Her personal interest in the demonisation of the working class is really at the crux of inspiration for Lilli, and far from a criticism on her subject matter, the collection intends to empower. Further research into the culture filled Lilli's mind with more and more ideas. Merging personal experiences from school, Lauren Socha from Misfits as the leading lady for her inspiration, Owen Jones' exploration of the same idea in ‘Chavs’ and films such as Green Street Hooligans – Lilli had really done the leg work to explore the theoretical and social backing of this project. Lilli’s main passion is a love for making clothes - she admits that strangely she doesn't love fashion per se, but has a raw passion for the creation of clothes from her own ideas. Not exposing herself to blogs, magazines and other designers is her way of making sure her work is original, "it's so easy to be influenced by another designer without even realising".
...it was the hardest year of my life, I literally worked myself into the grave.
The concept and collection were not light work , Lilli tells me “it was the hardest year of my life, I literally worked myself into the grave.” After completing her Foundation in Arts at the University of Camberwell, Lilli made the decision to head to LCF, despite warnings from her Mother about the difficulty and stress of the course. Lilli went ahead anyway, though acknowledges that it wasn’t easy. Thankfully her parents were incredibly supportive and let her get on with it, giving her the encouragement she needed during difficult times and sleepless nights. They’re bound to be proud as punch now, with Lilli just finding out that she deservingly received a First!
Growing up with a Father fully immersed in the creative world meant Lilli was always exposed to the industry. While initially she intended to follow in her Father’s footsteps into Fine Art, she has certainly found her calling in the world of fashion. After all the hard work of the last year, Lilli’s not quite sure what her next step is but she does know that designing her own luxury collection is the dream. With many offers at the moment, Lilli is having to choose carefully what her next move is. Although she explains that she can't stand working for other people who’s vision she can’t centre herself with. However she is gracious and realistic in realising her place in the industry, and is willing to try her best to bite her tongue and hold in that ‘tongue in cheek’ attitude to work her way up.
With such an impressive first collection, I’ll be keeping my eye out for her quirky touches in the luxury market in future!
Check out more from Lilli here.