Lilika Designs on the runway at FWLA. Image supplied.
Christina Kilmister founded her womenswear label Lilika Designs in late 2015 and she was recently invited to show at Fashion Week Los Angeles, giving her a chance to bring her unique kiwi style to the runway in LA. Christina’s colourful designs are feminine, versatile and all made in New Zealand with limited runs ensuring her customers get something different that will stand out from the crowd. The designer has had a life-long love of dressing up and decided to put her fashion design training to good use and start her own brand which has enjoyed great success so far.
We were thrilled to hear about Christina’s invitation to FWLA and wanted to find out more about the experience, what inspires her and her plans for Lilika Designs.
How did the opportunity come up to go to FWLA and what were the deciding factors for you doing it?
Initially I was invited in April to showcase at a NYC Fashion show along with 20 other emerging designers that were chosen worldwide and I was the only Kiwi which was very cool, I was not long back in the industry after some years and had 6 weeks to design and produce a collection! I grabbed the awesome opportunity and did it! I had an awesome show and the brand was a success in Manhattan. Within a week of the show finishing I had been invited to a number of shows over the US and another in London, also including World Fashion Week in Paris next year. A couple of weeks after that I was invited to attend FWLA. To be honest it was all rather overwhelming as it all happened so fast, as well as being incredibly exciting! We made the decision to take Lilika to FWLA as that was where the opportunity was to take the brand to the next level, as an emerging designer it was important for me to make the right contacts, especially on an international level.
What was the experience like and how was your brand received in LA?
It was an amazing experience, from the designer dinner at the start to the Hollywood after parties we got to meet some fantastic people and made awesome business contacts. To be actually showcasing in DTLA in a stunning venue, red carpet and all that goes with it, I really felt proud to have my Kiwi brand strutting down that runway! All the madness that came before it was all worth it on arriving! I had some great interviews, some are still to be aired in the US and just wonderful feedback on the brand, they loved Lilika! We have already been invited back for next season along with other FW invites over the US. All in all a fabulous time!
What inspired your collection and how did you go about styling it for the runway?
Part of my inspiration came from my grandmother who adored fashion and made her own garments, just like my mother. The photos of her were so beautiful she was dressed immaculately, there was power in them yet feminine and classy. I also love the 50s -60s style which is where the full skirts, collars and statement buttons came in. I love colour, colour makes you feel gorgeous and my inspiration was drawn from our beautiful Kiwi summers, the pinks of the West Coast sunsets, the bright flowers, the blue sea and the sandy white long beaches. The lines and the angles came from my recent trip to NYC that is a bustling manic city with skyscrapers and angles and intersections everywhere. So I guess all these things joined together to create one “journey” which became Kiwi Obsession the collection.
I adore styling, one of my favorite parts of the process, it is the icing on the cake, the coming together to complete the look I had in my head from my first drawings! I got all my accessories/shoes here from NZ and sent it over with my collection. I find the styling just comes so easily, I just see something and I know if it will work, if i am unsure for even a moment it’s not going to happen. So that in a way makes it easy as if i don’t love it i don’t get it! I will always style my own looks as I am a perfectionist with my designing I have a vision in my head and I know how it has to be.
How would you describe your personal style and how does it influence your brand?
My own personal style I love a little bit of posh and class in whatever I wear, yet statement and feminine. I like to always add just some little extra into my looks, a touch of fun/playfulness whether it be in the way of bold colour or unique cool pattern. I think that it definitely influences my brand as I know I love the feeling of wearing something and feeling classy, and strong, because I don’t have the same as everyone else on the street yet still girly/playful all rolled into one, I want other women to feel what I feel and just that in itself flows through to my designing, trying to deliver that in my designs. I have always said there is more to just putting on a pretty dress, it is the way it makes you feel and move as a woman and there is power in that. If you feel awesome, you are awesome!
What’s next for you and Lilika Designs?
I am not long back into NZ and straight into the next collection, along with working with our industry contacts in the US to further build the brand. As we have had some wonderful offers to show, we have some decisions to make very soon on where we will go next! I am also currently writing my first book which is now due to be published next year, Life is very full on at the moment but I am absolutely loving it and very thankful that I get to do what I love everyday, and that it is taking me on all sorts of adventures!
Designer Christina Kilmister (centre) on the runway at FWLA.