Christina Kilmister, owner and designer of Lilika Designs Fashion House.
Christina Kilmister is the effervescent designer and owner of Lilika Designs Fashion House which launched in early 2016. A life-long love of fashion and design led Christina to found her own label after studying fashion and leaving her corporate job, and she has enjoyed great success with her colourful label so far.
We caught up with Christina to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
Called Fly with Me, it seemed to just fit with the last year, since Lilika was born, it has been a roller coaster ride! We are still flying with one amazing invitation after the next to shows around the world. The name Fly with Me just worked! This collection is strong and bold, with black, gold, silver and rich pinks meeting deep sea green. The sea in the cold winter against the beautiful rich pink sunsets. After my recent trip to LA I wanted to accent more of a street look in this collection in a couple of the designs, but still keeping it a little bit posh!
I fell in love with the textures of the fabrics, several reminding me of the rich look and feel of Chanel. I wanted bold prints that would pop out in the winter, the gold and silver shimmers that remind me of wining and dining out on those cold nights, the fire blazing, big comfy leather couches you just sink into. I always love to introduce gold into my collections, I adore gold, could be to do with my Greek background?! It is luxurious and warm and with the right elements, incredibly elegant. The hint of gold in this collection was special, as it was recently my parents 50th golden anniversary, so inspired by that.
The 50s style colliding with modern print comes through in this collection, I am always inspired by remembering my grandmother, I am strongly drawn to these years and with each collection they just seem to keep threading their way through, most times without me even realising it has happened. Those collars, the accentuated cuffs, nipped-in waists with the fuller skirts, the pleats, big buttons. The detail, it is all in the detail! When a woman slips these garments on I want her to feel power in standing out, unique and feminine, yet with a touch of playfulness which evokes fun. With all this there must always be comfort, so you can wear these outfits all day and into the night if that is what needs to happen!
What made you become a designer?
I am one of four sisters. My mother grew up sewing garments from a young age, and her mother also had a great love for all things fashion. I started making clothes very young, as my sisters were older I would spend lots of time with my mother while she shopped the fabrics stores for all of our next creations. I would play for hours surrounded by fabrics and buttons dressing my dolls. So naturally as soon as my foot could reach the pedal I owned my first sewing machine! Once I started I couldn’t stop, going on to make my mother clothes. Many years later when I had my own children I realised I was still in love with fashion, putting together outfits and designing.
My favourite times of day were school drop off and pickup, so I could wear my new clothes I had just made, although the other mothers at school didn’t share my love for fashion. I wasn’t very popular! One day a mother came up to me to sympathise over their behaviour and asked for my help, long story short we had a play date. I made her over, re-invented her wardrobe and had a ball doing it, which apparently was life changing for her! From that moment I knew fashion was my obsession, I wanted to make women feel fabulous inside and out, so I decided to study it.
I completed a diploma in Fashion Design and then went on to obtain a diploma in Fashion Styling, going on to start my first business. With being a young mum at the time, I soon found that I couldn’t devote the time needed to my rapidly growing and successful business and it was time to make a change. I then decided to step into the family’s business in property to gain more balance for my family life.
After several years, I moved into a corporate role, but realised many years later that I was missing my true passion – fashion. I also wanted the excitement and satisfaction of having my own business again. So I decided it was time to make the move and I haven’t looked back!
Looks from Lilika Designs Fashion House’s Winter 2017 collection.
What inspires you?
Many things at different times! Sometimes it can be just one simple thing that grows from there, I can be out with my horse and just be outside in the beautiful countryside surrounded by the most amazing shades of green, the daisies, the sky. That is enough to make me grab my pad and start drawing! I am always drawn to images of my grandmother, how she dressed, there is an underlying element of 1950’s that I adore and am inspired by. Other times it could be a memory that just pops into my head when I have seen something, an image can come from that. Strength inspires me, if that makes sense? Shapes, angles, a structure. I love having a certain power in my designs, a confidence about them.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your brand?
I like to wear something that not every other woman on the street is wearing, I love colour, as it makes you feel wonderful, I love playful and fun, I also want an elegant style, something that looks and feels posh even if just in a casual look. All those things rolled into one and always things that I feel must be in my designs. In saying that also being comfortable is very important so I think about that when I choose fabrics. For many years before I got back into designing, I was in a corporate role, all the clothes out there looked the same, no-one wanted to or was too scared to wear colour and there seemed to be nothing that had a fun/playful element to it. I now say I was leaving my black and white world for one of colour that I had been craving! I wanted women to feel all of those things. There is power in not looking the same as everyone else. So I think my own personal style has strongly driven my designing.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
Without a doubt my Steve Madden wedges, my absolute go to shoes! Nude/tan with hot pink ankle strap – LOVE!
Looks from Lilika Designs Fashion House’s Winter 2017 collection.
What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
A fit and flare dress, of course I prefer either a print or colour. It is classy, comfortable (you can go out and enjoy a big dinner in it!) always so flattering for many body shapes. Can be dressed down with sandals or dressed up for going out. Perfect! Topped with a pair of stylish wedges that can be dressed up or down and that you can also wear for ages as comfy, preferably nude to go with everything with a hint of color. Oops that was 2 items!
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Beauty – bold eyes and subtle lips or bold lips and subtle eyes – never both! Dress – always be comfortable as well as looking fabulous. If you lose your comfort you lose your style!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My first fashion show in NYC – Manhattan, I will never forget that experience and I got to do it with a very special long-time friend of 20 years. That show has made me want more and to never stop. I would also have to say being asked to feature in Cosmopolitan UK for the first time in January this year! Last month I was asked to feature a second time too, followed by that I was asked by Elle to feature for March and soon to be out in April – Harper’s Bazaar asked to feature LDFH in their collectors issue featured under Luxury Couture – Hottest Designers. Excited about seeing that! Definitely career highlights so far.
What can’t you live without?
Coffee! Talking fashion? My heels. Talking beauty? Naturally Rosie organic balm. Talking pets? My long-time horse Atlas. Talking what keeps me sane and happy? My gorgeous kids, adorable husband, loving parents and of course my addiction to designing!
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing… Flat shoes out!