Glass talks to London-based fashion designer Liza Keane

THERE is something unnerving about Liza Keane’s designs. Pushing over the edge of her own guidelines and then reining back in is a regular exercise for the 26-year-old London-based designer who has caused a whirlwind of attention following her graduate collection.

Taking inspiration from unlikely sources like philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Jung, the Central Saint Martins graduate designed a collection that delved straight into her own psyche and discovered a powerful armour to bring to women. Already seeing her pieces on the likes of FKA Twigs, Keane speaks to Glass on the precipice of going from everyone’s best kept secret to having all eyes turn to see what the designer does next.

Liza Keane Graduate Collection Liza Keane Freudian Slip Dress

Were you always interested in fashion from a young age? Was there an item of clothing that really stuck with you? 

Actually, no. I’ve always been interested in sculptures. I would always just make things with clay, like little figurines and then I learned to draw and I think I just had a general interest in aesthetics. As a teenager, I discovered Tumblr and got inspired which made me think maybe this could be something that I could do. At the time, I thought if you’re in fashion, you’re unemployable. 

Liza Keane Graduate Collection Liza Keane Graduate Collection

Studying BA womenswear at UAL’s Central Saint Martins, what made you decide to pursue education further and do an MA there? 

I was really unsatisfied with my BA and I just knew I had a lot to refine. I didn’t necessarily have like any project ideas in me or like anything burning to get out but it was a general kind of wanting to polish up things that I was thinking about and ways in which I wanted to get better.

I definitely knew I was kind of formed as an artist, as a designer, like as a person. My personality was pretty much there, I felt like I had developed and I felt quite confident with that, but I wanted to get better at communicating myself. I felt like I was getting stuck when I would have a concept and it would just be like mine but it wouldn’t be communicated in the clothes, or at least not in a way that I liked.

I think with a lot of fashion students what tends to happen is the concept takes over and it’s no longer clothes – that’s not the kind of designer that I want it to be either. I wanted to hit some note where I’m communicating to the world with a message to the type of woman that I’m designing for, but it’s just great clothes. Like they’re just things you want to wear – very wearable clothes but not in a boring way. I knew that was great design.

Liza Keane Graduate Collection Liza Keane Graduate Collection

During your MA, what sources inspired you? What area of interest did you delve into to translate into the Beast collection? 

I just wanted to paint a portrait of the type of woman I would want to be, or that I can be sometimes. I read a lot of the time around psychoanalysis and Jung and Nietzsche, so the basic concept is a kind of reclamation of your darker side, like your shadow and what that could look like.

It’s funny, someone said to me, ‘your clothes apocalyptic’ and another comment was, like, it’s so full of rage. I didn’t actually recognise any of these things but I guess that rage did come out somehow. Maybe I was angry. But I think it’s positive.

There’s something productive about it for me, not in a way where I’m venting but my vision for how you could act as a woman and the kind of autonomy, strength and power that you could have – it’s something I want to explore as I develop my brand. 

Liza Keane Liza Keane Graduate Collection

How important is experimentation in what you do? 

I like to keep things fun. I don’t like turning up to a job and like feeling like it’s a job. I like having boundaries, and then just being like, okay, as an exercise, I’m just gonna push this to its ultimate extreme and then see where it could go and all different ways in which I could do that. 

Liza Keane Graduate Collection Liza Keane Graduate Collection

How do you want someone to feel when they wear one of your pieces?

I want her to feel like they’re comfort objects, but also like armour – to feel hot and sexy but in a way like an armed word, like a Joan of Arc type figure. I think that’s a challenging thing to do is to design something that makes you feel respected but also like a sexual entity whilst being strong within that. 

Who would you love to see wearing one of your designs?

Angelina Jolie.

by Imogen Clark 

Available exclusively online at Liza Keane website and on SSENSE. Contact Agent-N for sales enquiries.