Interview with designer Lily Clempson

Fashion, Interview, Top Stories, Video

Interview with designer Lily Clempson

Lily (26) and Michel (89) make a formidable pair. Together they cut, design, sew, source, chat, create

LilyEve creates unique garments made from up-cycled & vintage fabrics. Founder Lily Clempson came across the idea, when as a recent graduate from Parsons School of Design, she started making facemasks in the pandemic to raise money for FoodBankNY. The demand for the masks increased and when looking for someone to help her with production locally in East Hampton – she met Michel. It was here, the story really started.  Lily (26) and Michel (89) make a formidable pair. Together they cut, design, sew, source, chat, create…all day every day from their workshop. Michels background in couture, paired with Lily’s eye for design, combine to create their pieces known for unique style and discerning details.

The key word of your project is Sustainable luxury but what does sustainability really mean in fashion today and how can it be expressed in the world of luxury?
We came up with the tag line sustainable luxury, because to me, sustainability in fashion means designing items that offer a bespoke and one of a kind experience for the customer. When it comes to luxury, I think there is nothing more luxurious than knowing how and where your item of clothing was made, that is it limited run and something you can pass on to your loved ones.

In your project we were very struck by the connection with Michel. Can you tell us something more about him?
Michel is an incredible human being, and without him LilyEve would not have become what it is today. He has worked in fashion his whole life, with a hugely impressive resume, from designing costumes for Broadway, making Elizabeth Taylors wedding dress, and then later in life, to owning his own store in East Hampton for over 30 years with his late partner Wayne Young.

Inclusivity is one of the new directives in fashion. For you, is inclusiveness also a meeting between generations?
Definitely! The greatest part about working with Michel, is that we are always challenging one another to step out of our comfort zones, through combining his elegant and timeless patterns with my love for bold and graphic print, it has helped us appeal to all ages!

The Parson School of Design plays an important role in your professional education. Do you think that fashion schools today are moving towards a sustainable fashion culture?
I know from when I was at Parsons every class I took revolved around sustainable practices, and how we could incorporate them into our work, which has helped me hugely in my career. So I definitely believe that this is happening more and more at Fashion schools, and it’s an incredible thing!

Let’s talk about your simply brilliant product, where did the idea come from and what type of woman is it made for?
Thank you very much! The idea was really a combination of right place right time. I had moved back in with my parents during the pandemic in East Hampton NY, and my mother had 3 Hermes beach towels that had been gifted to her, I was freelancing as a graphic designer at the time but out of work due to the pandemic, so I decided to cut the towels up and make face masks to raise money for a local charity. After promoting the masks on Instagram, I saw that there was a great response to the theme of up-cycling luxury fabrics, which encouraged me to go into bucket hats and then jackets. The LilyEve woman can be anyone, she is someone who is not afraid of color and print, loves to express herself through fashion and understands the value in the up-cycling nature of the product.

You are a very young designer, today in a world that sees the crisis of the fashion system, the blocking of accessories sales and the overcoming of the break even point in luxury e-commerce, is there still space for young talents?
I definitely believe that there is still space for young talent, whilst it can be incredibly challenging at times, I think people now more than ever are craving new innovative designs that tell a story.

In your project there is a specific focus on the recycling of a legendary fashion house like Hermes. Do you think that the future could be a complementarity between creative projects like yours and important fashion houses. Maybe with some joint collaborative projects?
I would love to believe that there could be collaborative projects with these iconic fashion houses, maybe one day it could be working alongside them to up-cycle their deadstock fabrics!

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