Thursday, July 7, 2011

Designing Women: Lilac Skin

My favorite thing about having this blog is getting the opportunity to "meet" all kinds of fantastic, amazing people through it. One such person, who recently sent me a sweet e-mail, is Alicia, the creator of a fab-u-lous etsy shop called Lilac Skin Designs, where she sells handmade caftans made from silk and cotton sari's, both new and vintage. She also sells uh-mazing handbags and jewelry as well, many from reclaimed fabrics. Her story is pretty amazing (coming especially from a girl who has basically lived in the same place my entire life). Alicia has her own blog as well - Lilac Skin - The Blog, that showcases some pretty gorgeous photography and stories of her life in India.

Your store and blog are named Lilac Skin - is there a meaning behind it?
When I was at highschool, I was a bit of a dreamer. I would lock myself in my room for hours. Painting, drinking tea, burning incense and listening to music.
My favourite song at that time was ‘Everybody Here Wants You’ by Jeff Buckley. The lyrics are: "Coffee smell and lilac skin, your flame in me." To me, at the time, it conjured up images of a divine woman, like a goddess, her skin smelling of beautiful lilacs.
My kaftans are the most divine dresses to wear. They are made from gorgeous fabric, and slip over a woman’s shape perfectly, like a second skin. So much so, you almost feel you’re not even wearing them! So, when I needed a business name, I couldn’t think of anything more suitable than ‘Lilac Skin.’ 

How did you get started as a clothing and accessories designer? Do you have formal training?
I did a few short courses, but basically learnt (and am still learning) through trial and error over the years. Which is the best way to learn. I have a passion for fabrics, textiles and all things beautiful. And when you have a passion for something, it’s all you can think about! 

You live in India by way of Australia - how did that happen?
I first came to India when I was 21. Growing up, I was entranced by beautiful fabrics, embroidery, colour, jewellery. One day, I realised it all came from one very special place. So I saved up and came here for one month. One month in India really isn’t enough. So I returned the following year. At the end of that trip, I met a beautiful, handsome man who is now my husband. So, there’s your answer. Love! You can read our love story here.
What was the biggest surprise moving from one place to the other?
Absolutely everything! India is the opposite of Australia in every way imaginable! I live in Rajasthan. Drinking water comes from bore wells, and camel carts are used as transport. Colourful tractors constantly play blaring loud Indian music. Summer days get close to 50 degrees Celsius, and 99% of marriages are ‘arranged.’ Also, little luxuries I was used to, like going to the hairdresser for blonde ‘highlights’ are non-existent!
India fascinates me and surprises me every day. Unfortunately, though, it can sometimes be difficult to promote Lilac Skin all the way from rural India!

Do you use new and vintage textiles? Do you have a preference?
I use them both. ‘Up’cycled saris and new cotton for the kaftans. The fabrics and textiles from India are magnificent. Whether it is a sparkling new sari or an old hand embroidered skirt, they are all amazing! What I love about the materials here are that in traditional or rural villages, particular fabrics are only used by particular castes. Men and women from each caste have their own dress style. The cotton that I use for my kaftans are what Rajput ladies use for their traditional dress. Thanks to my mother-in-law,for introducing me to Indian cotton!
Do you have a favorite piece/pieces that you've designed? Do you become emotionally attached to them and find it hard to sell them?
I used to, but I had to get over that. Otherwise I think I would own everything and sell nothing. I need to make a living of course!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember wanting to be a hairdresser, a police woman, a florist, or work in an ice-cream shop. I think I wanted to be everything at one stage or another.

Do you believe there is life on other planets?
I don’t see why not. I’m no scientist, but I think if we exist on a planet, and there are other planets out there, then why not?

One piece of advice for someone getting started?
I feel like I’m still just getting started. Lilac Skin is still a baby. Not even a baby, an embryo! I have huge dreams for this label, and I want to nurture it, and see it mature. It grows daily and weekly. I see a beautiful bohemian lifestyle brand, incorporating the stunning local craftsmanship in Lilac Skin. This is my dream.
It’s a lot of hard work, and even more persistence. I honestly believe that if you want something badly enough, you can,and will do it. Two years ago I dreamt of having access to some of the worlds most amazing fabrics, and making my own kaftans, with my own label on them. With the help of friends and family (and a lot of hard work), everything is gradually falling into place.
Thank you so much, Alicia, for taking time to chat with me! I sincerely appreciate it and wish you much success. If you haven't already clicked over to Alicia's site, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR????


madison web designer said...

Great work, Good to know that you are based out of INDIA, the Land of Opportunities.

Carly said...

Thanks for the intro..going to head over there now...these Kaftans are beautiful!!!