The Fashion Folk S02 ep2 : Ben De Lisi, Lisi Fashion, [Guangdong]
Interview with Ben De Lisi
American born de Lisi has built a reputation for designing clothes with a subtle, flattering glamour with collections that focus on eveningwear. From his Elizabeth Street shop his flourishing business in bridal dresses both couture and ready-to-wear has been expanded. His BDL evening range for Debenhams has been a mass-market success story while his interiors for a large property company in the UK have added another string to his bow. He also designs a range of bathrooms for Abacus and has plans to extend into other areas of lifestyle products. De Lisi has just started filming the third series of the television programme Project Catwalk where his role of feisty mentor to competitors has been impressive.
De Lisi: Okay, okay (never seen so many people packed in) okay alright.
Another show another season.
De Lisi: Yeah another one.
How many seasons do you actually do a year yourself?
De Lisi: I do two seasons a year.
Right, here in London?
De Lisi: Yes.
And this is it for you?
De Lisi: Yeah I don’t go to any other fashion capital. Stay home here.
De Lisi: It’s always about art, modern art in the 50’s, 1950’s. That sort of thing, it’s sort of Rothco,
Nicholson, Picasso, Palech, that’s where my benchmark is.
De Lisi: It’s a very free spirited collection, it was all about poolside parties, yachts, cruising the
Caribbean, cruising the Mediterranean, holidaying in the Hamptons, soft of a rebel princess you
know gone wrong a little bit.
De Lisi: It’s all about flattering the body for me, it’s all about elongating the shape and flattering
the body. It’s not about tricksy gimmicks, it’s about just making them feel more beautiful and
more lean, and more swanyea.
De Lisi: Well I wanted it to have a lean American feel to it, I didn’t want it to be overly fussy, I
wanted it to be kind of chic and pure and with some, with some light heartedness, especially in
some of the fabrics, but I wanted it to be quite pure and that’s what I aimed for.
De Lisi: I think that my collection would be perceived as very American there and that’s why I
continue to show it here. Because I like to sort of stand out a little bit. But you know the duality of
it is that this is a country and a fashion capital that has, prides themselves on youth and I’m no
longer you know an upstart so.
Is there an indigenous London style do you think?
De Lisi: No. I think absolutely not. I mean I think London is all about a hot bed of designers who
range from the more traditionalists like myself who rely on beauty and then the more cerebral
academic designers like Jonathan Saunders who rely on sort of more integral kind of detail. But
you know London is sort of prides itself on the youth and whereas Italy prides itself, Milan prides
itself on tailoring and Paris on couture and America about clean American sportswear, so I’m
somewhat out of place here but it’s my market and I have to stay.
Can they do couture in London?
De Lisi: Well we all have couture customers but it’s not as large a section of our industry as it is in
And how do you account for so many great designers coming from London? Is it the water?
De Lisi: Well it’s, I think that it’s the contradiction of spirit in this country, it’s a very creative
city, it’s got an incredible buzz and the dynamics are such that you’re inspired at every turn and I
think that’s why we, we push design rather than we push business acumen and that’s why
unfortunately everybody goes abroad.
De Lisi: I mean I am doing property development and interiors as well.
So you and Bruce Oldfield eh?
De Lisi: Well I do a lot of that now.
De Lisi: Well because the brand is strong and people want the brand and I you know, I’m good at
is so they ask me to do it and I do it.
De Lisi: This has been a very, very difficult week for me because I’ve been immersed with my
own emotional things and so I haven’t had a funny week, I can’t come up with an anecdote that’s
going to please your viewers. All I can say is that it went as smooth as I possibly could have
imagined and I was starting to get a little bit hassled about the hair, but in the end it all came
together and I’m glad it’s over.
Great show Ben.
De Lisi: Thank you.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Ben De Lisi, Lisi Fashion, Guangdong