Cat Chat: Hawaii-born designer Bliss Lau

Cat Chat: Hawaii-born designer Bliss Lau

One day designer Bliss Lau was procrastinating from working on her suspension handbags, which features draping diagonal chains. She started pinning the chains from her bags to the model form in your New York City studio and, “Viola,” she said, “I had my first body chain.”

From there, the Hawaii-born designer transitioned in fashion jewelry — and pioneered a trend that was quickly seen everywhere.

Lau unveiled her Fall 2011 collection, “Embraced,” in February — with ballerinas on the runway, no less — and returned to the Islands to host two fashion events this weekend.

She took the time to chat about her inspirations, her career and what it’s really like to work in the celebrity-filled world of fashion. (Read more at Haute Living here.)

CT: Where did you get your inspiration for your latest collected, “Embraced”?
The Embraced collection is a combination of my background in apparel, the leather craftsmanship i learned as a jewelry designer and the recent body jewelry that I have been designing. I was very inspired by muscle structure and movement as well as the concept of creating a sort of sensual armor.

CT: Where did you get the concept of using ballerinas in your shows? And why did you want to bring that to the Islands?
Hawaii RED Magazine has been such a wonderful partner, (so) when Malie (Moran) contacted me with the idea to do a show and bring a bit of New York home, I thought it was an amazing idea, she is so progressive. We used the ballerinas to show the collection because part of my inspiration was movement. When a dancer moves each moment is intentional sensual and poised this is not always true for a fashion model, that is why I chose to put the jewelry on people who use their body as a tool for expression.

CT: What was the best advice you ever got?
Cathy Horyn of the New York Times once wrote, “The best work comes from play.” I can’t tell you how much I agree.

CT: What has been the biggest surprise for you in this phase of your career?
Designing is really such an introverted experience. I am always shocked by what it feels like to then expose that very personal project to the world.

CT: What designers inspire (or have inspired) you?
I find that so many designers have in essence invented certain ways of making things, I love Claire McCardell for using industrial hardware on handbags and Rick Owens for transforming the way cut clothing he reinvented the shawl collar and made curved-diagonal seems commonplace. I think that I most admire when a single design or designer can alter the collective perspective.

HL: You’ve done handbags and body jewelry — what’s next?
I am working to continue to expand my fine jewelry collection as well as possibly relaunch handbags (not sure yet but thinking about it) I am working to really master these two crafts and I feel like I still have so far to go!

CT: How do you want to be remembered?
As a teacher I hope to inspire and as a designer I seek to create beautiful and unexpected objects.

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Today’s not-so-happy shot

Though the Crack Seed Center is closing today after 52 years, you can still get its seeds and other goodies online here.

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Today’s happy shot

Shave ice after a long bike ride

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Today’s happy shot

Indy loves socks!

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Today’s happy shot

Wailupe Stream is one of the last natural (meaning non-channelized) streams in the area. And it’s lovely.

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