Steph: What do you currently have in your handbag?
Lisa: I’ve got my laptop and charger, my foundation powder compact from Chanel, a NARS stick blush, MAC lipstick in Twig, a NAKED eye shadow palette from Urban Decay, a MAC eye kohl pen, my journal, as well as random accessories that I keep taking off during the day and forgetting about!
Steph: Where do you draw your inspiration from when you are designing your garments?
Lisa: I’m half Chinese, and I was born and raised in Canada. I spent a lot of my formative years in Vancouver (which is really Asian) before moving to Singapore 8 years ago. In this way, my cultural experience has always been a mix of Eastern and Western influences for as long as I can remember, and I use this mixed heritage I have to inform how I design. There’s always an Eastern element but the overall look is still modern, cool, and contemporary with a playful edge.
My collections all have different stories and meanings, but this aesthetic and the ‘street-luxe’ vibe is a mainstay.
Steph: How did Mick Jagger come to be a client of yours? And who else have you dressed?
Lisa: We partied in Singapore, and he took an interest to the label. So when I sent him a bomber jacket, he asked to order a few more.
The rapper Eve (above) is also a client, and she is so super cool. Sampa the Great, Natalie Imbruglia, Kelis, Jasmine Thompson, and some incredible Asian influencers are all part of the list of people I’ve dressed.
I also have some amazing fans and customers that are not famous, but I really admire them. I am most inspired by regular men and women that rock my statement pieces in their own way.
Image: Instagram (@therealeve)
Steph: What two fashion items are you currently coveting?
Lisa: The Gucci full-print slippers, and a Monster bag from Fendi.
Steph Adams: How do you juggle your work with your personal time?
Lisa Crosswhite: I make sleep and fitness a necessity, and a pre-requisite to doing well at work. You can’t excel in work, and really create magic if you’re not letting your spirit rest and be inspired.
Sometimes, it’s also important to meditate and let your body lead. I do core exercises like squats, pilates and yoga every day with a mini meditation session, and I’ll get in touch with nature over the weekends.
Steph: You once mentioned that you love to incorporate political trends into some of your clothes. Could you talk a little more about this?
Lisa: It’s not so much about political trends, since I hate trends in general. I am always reading, and really immersing myself with issues in the world at large such as cultural exploration, feminist ideas, as well as issues more specific to woman’s issues and human rights.
So in this context, it’s safe to say that a lot of my design inspiration is derived from my political, cultural or philosophical thoughts. For example, my first collection (left) was about defining my concept of strong women.
My Burmese-inspired collection (centre) was about exploring the diversity of beauty, and particularly the vanishing cultural diversity in Myanmar after I embarked on a journey to visit various tribes in Loikaw. I did an essay on my thoughts on cultural diversity, which ran on Harper’s Bazaar when the collection came out.
My recent anime-inspired collection (right) is a feminist call to action – it’s all about superheroes, particularly women, and there was a strong message in the fashion presentations around being your own hero, and about celebrating individual strength.
The next collection for F/W17 is called “FIGHT THE POWER”. I think you can guess what that is inspired by!
Steph: Why did you choose to make the bomber jacket a key piece in your collections?
Lisa: I’ve always loved the bomber jacket because it’s a statement piece without being too stiff and formal. My DNA of my brand is street-luxe, which means everything is elegant, but still cool at the same time. The bomber jacket really straddles that divide nicely when it’s done in a luxurious way.
Image: Singapore Fashion Week
Steph: Name one beauty item you are loving right now.
Lisa: It’s a powder foundation from Chanel called Perfection Lumiere Extreme. It’s my fave because it looks very natural but the coverage is effective. I use it on my blemishes and it blends nicely with your natural skin for a barely-there look.
Steph: What’s next for Chi Chi Von Tang, where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?
Lisa: We’ll have multiple stores across Asia and in the West. They will be amazing, experiential areas where you can really immerse yourself in the brand and vibe with us.
We’ll be selling at key international retailers, and continue growing in awareness through meaningful celebrity collaborations. It’s going to be a beautiful journey there.
Steph Adams: How did you find your manufacturer when you first started Chi Chi Von Tang?
Lisa Crosswhite: I’ve tried five bad ones, but I found a good one at the suggestion of an investor. I got lucky!
Steph: Where do you like to go out with friends when you want to enjoy a night out in Singapore?
Lisa: I go to Kilo and dance the night away. It’s the only club I go to in Singapore. I’m not interested in going out to meet people really… I’m more interested in having the anonymity to just enjoy the music, and Kilo has great music.