Today’s woman. I tell you, she’s a force to be reckoned with!
We can’t just stick to one profession, one hobby, one day job can we? We’re cramming extra curricular activities in at every spare minute, on the way to work, during work, after work, before bed, in bed, even in our dreams.
This is a scenario too true for a milliner who has lately become a house hold name amongst the racing and fashion industry. Two sentences into this interview and you will see there is so much more than just ‘milliner’ to Lady of Leisure’s, Lisa Xu.
It’s clear she’s a real pocket rocket, but she tempts us that the best is still yet to come.
Tell us a bit about yourself? I understand there is more to you than just millinery, tell us a bit about your day job in medicine and science.
I am 29 years old always been a lover of fashion and the arts. Pursued a career in Nuclear Medicine and really enjoy helping and talking to people. Nuclear Medicine is a form of medical imaging involving radioactive pharmaceuticals being injected into the patient or consumed in one way or another to look at a particular body organ to assess their function and physiology.
How did Lady of Leisure begin? How did you get into millinery?
I was living in Murrumbeena at the time and a hat shop opened up (Torb & Reiner) around the corner. I have several race horses in Australia and New Zealand and am keen race-goer with a shallow wallet because of all the outfits and millinery I use to buy at University. So I thought I would give it a go at taking a class so I could make my own pieces so I didn’t have to purchase so many (always had a taste for handcrafted hats by an established milliner).
So it was after that first class with Waltraud Reiner working with jinsin material that I instantly fell in love with what I had help in creating and with the craft itself. It is a great sense of achievement when you dream up something and are able to produce the vision with your own hands.
As I began to become literally obsessed with making new designs, my label came about quickly as boutiques approached me about stocking in their stores so it grew quite quickly and I am still learning to this day.
Lady of Leisure is ever evolving; you create so many designs and obviously custom one off pieces. Do you have a signature style or theme for each season?
I am known for my lace cat ears and crowns this season and I try not to create too many similar pieces so I may have a theme for each season for the ready to wear range, but I do try to vary it. Or perhaps I am still finding my signature style… still starting out!
I do have ideas of drawing from my cultural experiences in Asia, Middle East – so lush colours and rich textures, hopefully I can develop these ideas into reality next year!
I imagine in a way hand making millinery is like studying, focus, motivation and some personal tricks to get you along. How do you like to work, in front of the TV, locked away, with a bowl of lollies on hand, at night etc.?
I definitely have a bad habit of working in front of the TV (because I am making in my off duty time), always snacking into the early hours of the morning! I am a night owl and I find it relaxing to sew in front of the TV, probably not the most productive work ethic most nights!
What can we expect from Lady of Leisure in the future, where would you like to take the business?
I am stocking jewellery and accessories on my website, various designers and provide an accessory sourcing service to clients after something different to finish off their outfits. I would love to be able to have an accessories store which I design all the jewellery and accessories with an affordable price tag.