Started in Bali in 2004, Lily Jean has made waves in the Bali fashion industry with its timeless, fashion forward collections season after season. Lisbon Nights, the latest collection, is another multifaceted and chic collection that effortlessly shifts between day and evening wear. We caught up with Made de Coney, founder and creative director of the brand, to talk life, business and of course fashion.
BBF: Great to see you, how are you?
Made: I’m doing great!
BBF: So tell us, how did growing up in Bali influence you as a designer?
Made: Bali exposes you to a lot of artistic details that you don’t find anywhere else. The island has a rich cultural heritage which you can see in its’ architecture, the wood and stone carvings and also in the motifs and patterns found on traditional clothes for example. There is a strong artisanal heritage in Bali and a high level of quality workmanship. Nevertheless, it is also a modern and progressive place and not is not afraid to evolve. Also, we need to be a bit practical in Bali with the climate. So naturally my collections are suited to the hot weather and focus on being comfortable, wearable yet stylish at the same time. The quality of the workmanship is also very important in our collections. So hopefully you will see these influences in my designs.
BBF: Congrats on Lisbon Nights, your newest collection! What did you want to achieve with this collection?
Made: With this collection I focused on the construction of the pieces and also on combining different materials, so the collection would be casual, but still chic, sexy and glamourous. For example, when I was designing the shorts, I added broad waistbands and deep pockets, or for the maxi dress I designed it with high leg slits. These features make the pieces stand out a bit more. Also, it means that they can be worn to casual events but also be transformed into an evening piece by simply adding some heels, accessories or jewelry. This makes the pieces versatile and suitable for all occasions. Secondly, a big focus of my collections is using a combination of different fabrics to elevate the pieces but also to make the wearer feel she is wearing something special. I combined different fabrics such as linens, silk cotton and viscose sateen which are all beautiful and give the pieces a more chic and sensual look. Lastly, but probably most importantly, is that these materials feel soft on the skin and they flow easily over the body. So I hope that a woman wearing this collection will feel comfortable and sexy.
BBF: Is being open to many influences a blessing or a curse? Does it make it harder to design?
Made: Designing is something I believe you need to open yourself up to. It is not so much a moment, but more a process for me. One of exploration. I try not to have a fixed design aesthetic and let myself be inspired by my own heritage and the influences you get when living in colorful Bali. I will always enjoy working with different materials and fabrics. Also creating collections that are chic yet still casual is something that I will always strive to do. I believe that being open to different inspirations and influences does allow you to express yourself with more options and creativity, which is very important. Therefore by approaching design more as a process, I feel that it allows you to achieve that.
BBF: You pride yourself on creating timeless pieces that do not blindly follow the latest trends. As a designer, how have you been able to not follow fashion trends and stay true to your own creative vision? How do you do that?
Made: We try to stay true to our ethos. I wouldn.t necessarily design a particular jacket or blouse because it is in fashion, however we do know that the women we design for is looking to express herself in a certain way. She wants to feel confident, chic and sexy, but also have items in her wardrobe that have a certain level of practicality and versatility. The ability to use pieces for different occasions and combining it with different items, jewelry or heels to achieve a certain look. What we try to do consistently is to offer women unique collections that have been made with high quality workmanship. We believe that this will always be in trend.
BBF: Don’t you stay abreast of trends even just a little?
Made: Ok you got me! Of course, I do follow what is happening in our industry. It is important to stay informed of social trends, particularly the move towards more inclusiveness in the fashion industry, finding sustainable solutions and being aware of the changing needs of women. Social media is also playing a role in defining fashion- from a marketing perspective obviously, but also the way influencers portray fashion means the lifestyle component has a stronger role to play in fashion. In that sense, I do stay abreast of what the modern woman looks for, but like I said, I love to be open to influences, to fresh inspiration and have the freedom to express a vision. The fashion industry is a big one, so it is also hard to know what the trend is!
BBF: Tell us a bit about Lily Jean’s commitment to sustainability. What does this look like in practice?
Made: Unfortunately, Indonesia contributes a lot to the plastic waste that ends up in the oceans, so it is important that we as an industry do what we can to minimize our impact on the environment. We have a zero-waste policy in our production facilities which means that we use all leftover fabrics to make different items such as scrunchies, underwear, headbands and the like. These are little things, but we do what we can to make sure we minimize the impact on the environment and also so that customers can be comfortable that they are being kind to Mother Nature.
BBF: Thank you Made
Made: Thanks BBF!