In conversation with the designers

Belgian retailer LolaLiza launched The LolaLiza Fashion School a few weeks ago. Belgian fashion talents could sign up for the competition, and the winners see their designs realized and sold at the chain. Designers Femke Thijs, Liesl De Ridder and Nanook Cools are the three lucky ones.

The three were selected from a total of ten finalists. These ten participants all received compensation for their participation in the competition. The finalists were welcomed to LolaLiza’s headquarters for a two-day bootcamp where they worked with a coach on the final task. The designs by Femke Thijs, Liesl De Ridder and Nanook Cools were ultimately selected as the best. The winners get one creation fee and receive commission on the sale of their product. The winning designs will be in stores in May 2023.

Liesl De Ridder. Image via LolaLiza

Liesl De Ridder

Liesl is 24 years old and currently lives in Borås in Sweden. She is educated at the Swedish Textile School. She has previously participated in several exhibitions and has experience with design, styling, production and costume design.

What can you tell us about your winning design?

“My dress is airy and fluffy, free to move in the hot summer. It is dark, but with a bright color print, perfect for holidays. It also contains a super delicious accessory that adds an extra touch.”

What inspired you?

“I was inspired by three strong ladies, three top women, three grandmothers. The sweetest grandmothers who inspired me to fulfill my dreams and realize my goals. With my designs, I also wanted to emphasize strong women, embracing who you are and self-confidence.”

What does this win mean to you?

“This win opens new doors. I’m very happy and excited for what’s to come. So far it’s been a very fun and educational experience. I also hope to make my grandmother extra proud. Time and time again I prove myself and get more confidence for the future. This is a good start to something great. I am very grateful to the whole LolaLiza team for this unique opportunity and I am also very happy to make this adventure together with the other two top winners.”

Femke Thijs. Image via LolaLiza.

Femke Thijs

Femke Tijs is 23 years old and comes from Ghent. She is currently studying at ESMOD in Paris. She has previously won the Hat Trophy with Waregem Koerse.

What can you tell us about your winning design?

“My design process usually works the same way, I do enough research, decide on my color palette, work out a concept and start a drawing followed by a technical drawing. The design chosen was my very first design that I prepared for this competition and was, in my own opinion, the strongest of the three.”

“The theme of party wear or occasion wear suits my personality very well. I really like to wear volume and clothes that often have a surprise or dramatic effect. Quite immediately I wondered what a woman would wear to a wedding, for example, and that’s how I ended up with “the little black dress”, which is very accessible to many women. What I think is important is to put your own stamp on this, which is my prints for me. So I designed a matching cape with the print on it. You can easily remove the cloak and it gives the drama effect of entering an apartment. My prints are often based on elements from nature – flowers inspire me a lot. But often an abstraction or blurring of the flower. For this print I held the flowers in the water and took pictures through glass. This gives you a kind of mirror effect plus a beautiful distortion of the flower.”

What inspired you?

“For the shape, I often get inspiration from my own wardrobe, or from silhouettes that have already been published in the past. You can definitely innovate, but unfortunately you can no longer invent hot water. That is my principle. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by the past, but you should put your own spin on it and make sure it stays modern. When it comes to color and textiles, I let my emotions guide me, I am very sensitive to colors and I often make surprising combinations. For me, colors and fabrics are like a puzzle that you start putting together until each piece falls into place. When I work on my prints or fabrics I keep putting combinations until I feel warm inside, at that moment I have it and it’s right for me. So I am primarily inspired by the colors.”

What does this win mean to you?

“Above all, it is a huge boost. As a fashion student, I struggled a lot and often lost the courage to keep believing that one day I would make it or make a difference in fashion. Unfortunately, people still underestimate how tough the fashion world is and how quickly you can lose your confidence because of all the subjective reactions. The key is always to believe in your own values ​​and to keep an eye on your own identity. Through this competition, I naturally hope that many can benefit from my design, that it gives women the confidence to shine in their clothes. I hope that my participation can inspire young people to always believe that much is possible. For myself, I hope that this is a start or a further path to maybe one day my own label or further collaborations with other brands. And it’s a nice reward for the many years of work I’ve delivered, but also a pat on the back to all the beautiful people who stand behind me, from my parents Dirk and Marijke, to my best friends, and so many more people, who have supported me over the years. have helped.”

Nanook Cools. Image via LolaLiza.

Nanook Cools

Nanook Cools is 28 years old and is currently studying costume design at Syntra. She has already graduated as a fashion designer at the Sint-Niklaas municipal academy. She is also a stylist at No Babes Agency.

What can you tell us about your winning design?

“I started from an illustration where I completely let go of my imagination and then translated it into the LolaLiza universe. In short, a playful color palette, a touch Rock and roll and especially a lot of prints.”

What inspired you?

“Cowboys, the LolaLiza woman as protagonist in her wild western story. The female adventurer rides toward the horizon.”

What does this win mean to you?

“It gives me the chance to share my universe with you and be seen as a young designer. A challenge to translate my creativity into a salable product. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to share the end result.”

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