Several years ago, a brief encounter with a baby whale sparked a fire within designer Lisa Burke to preserve and protect the gentle giants of the sea.
Whilst surfing the ocean’s waves, the idea struck Burke to create a swimwear label raising funds for the conservation of our marine mammals.
Founded by Burke in 2008, Lisa Blue Swimwear cries the ‘call of the whale’; voicing the plight of cetaceans to the world. Burke donates a quarter of her label's profit to saving whales and dolphins from extinction.
Lisa Blue's ethos is about working in harmony with our planet and all of its inhabitants, whilst creating fashionable, high-end swimwear for women worldwide.
NSS Editor, Michelle Larin, recently caught up with Burke to talk about her label and the cause it passionately represents.
Q: Lisa, tell us more about why you started Lisa Blue.
A: Some time ago I went to Tonga with the sole purpose of swimming with humpback whales. During my visit, I came face to face with a mother and her baby whale. The baby approached me and looked directly into my eyes. Swimming only a foot away from me, I stared back into to those ancient looking eyes - the eyes of a new born whale - and made a promise that I would do what I could to help protect them.
Born a 'water baby' and having been a keen surfer, I virtually lived in a bikini. Hence it made sense that I would put my two passions together - 'save the whales' and ' bikini designs' - to create Lisa Blue.
Since founding my label, it has gained significant international recognition. Last year, we were asked to do the opening show of the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (MBFW) Miami. We are the first Australian label in history to be honoured with this privilege.
Rocking the catwalks at the MBFW in both Miami and Sydney over the last few years has not only enabled us to spread our wings as a business, but has allowed us to tell the world about the plight of the whales.
Q: What philosophy does the Lisa Blue brand embody?
A: Every member of our team is a strong supporter of the Lisa Blue marine preservation cause. As the saying goes, ‘What you reap, so shall you so’. It is my responsibility to utilise any power that my position, as the creator of Lisa Blue, bestows upon me for the highest good.
Q: How would you describe the Lisa Blue woman?
A: The Lisa Blue woman not only looks beautiful, but radiates inner beauty knowing she has made a difference by wearing our label. She is the way of the future. She is the woman who is ready to shine. She is glamorous, yet real and truly beautiful.
Q: What inspires Lisa Blue's designs/collections?
A: Immersing myself in exotic, distant cultures and having 'walked the road less travelled' has given me an abundance of creative ideas for my world of design.
The Lisa Blue 2014 'Far Far Away' collection was once again inspired by my life experiences and passions. A mystical, fairy tale theme can be seen in the new collection. My love of ancient architecture and decor from far-away lands and times long past are also reflected in my new Lisa Blue prints.
Living in India for five years in my 20s left an imprint on my soul, which often reveals itself in my collections. In fact, living in India was like a fairytale for me. It was as though I travelled through a time tunnel and landed in the days of the Bible.
Of course, my love of the gentle giants of the ocean is also reflected in my swimwear in subtle ways, such as the tiny, golden whale tail trims delicately sewn on each piece of swimwear.
Q: Your collections are renowned for their 'royal' themes and exotic looks. What can we expect from future collections?
A: Oh, thank you, I love the word royal! Funnily enough the 2014 collection actually has two 'royal' stories - Princess Tatiana and African Queen. So, yes, expect more of the exotic and royal! One of my favorite stories for 2014 is the breathtaking 'Sorceress', which captures a timeless beauty. The use of lush velvet and feminine lace creates the perfect blend of regal and sensual.
Q: Tell us about some of your past swim collections.
A: In the past, my collections have incorporated an Australian-Aboriginal inspired, tribal theme. Bunna Lawrie, an Australian indigenous artist, dance performer and musician, did a traditional ceremony with me in honouring my mission to help spread the message regarding the plight of the whales. Bunna ,who is from the Mirning tribe (Whale tribe) in South Australia, is one of the world’s last medicine man whale dreamers. Bunna gave me permission to buy the rights to use artwork from himself and his very talented relative, Rose Miller. These stunning paintings inspired many prints I have created over the last few years.
Q: How would you describe your brand's style and fit?
A: A key word for the Lisa Blue style is 'unique'. While I keep an eye on forecasted trends and ensure that each collection keeps up with the times, it is my passion for channeling my individual creativity that dominates my style.
My imagination is vast and varied and produces styles that range from classical and elegant to exotic and edgy. Our fits are designed to flatter a woman’s form, making her feel comfortable, feminine and beautiful.
Q: Where is your swimwear made and from what fabrications?
A: Our swimwear has historically been made in Australia. Now, however, due to a demand for a much greater volume than our Aussie makers could provide we are moving production to both LA and the better factories in China.
The fabrications we use are varied , think velvet, Italian lace, crochet fabric, high quality silk, lycra and so on.
Q: In your opinion, what does it take to run a swimwear label in Australia?
A: Long, long hours of dedicated hard yakka combined with working with a great team. The challenge for us as a label has been to create a swimwear range that appeals to every woman. The fit must be spot on and the prints and style must be alluring.
Swimwear is a tough industry to break into. Believing in my dream and having the whale cause behind it has kept me going when challenges have arisen. But the combination of our unique style, great fits and the fact that we donate an unusual 25% of our profit to help preserve the marine environment sets us apart from the rest. I can confidently say that Lisa Blue is at the top of the game.
Q: If your brand was a person, where would she holiday?
A: Well, that would depend on the varying moods of the Lisa Blue woman! She may fancy a vacation in the classically elegant South of France or the Italian Riviera to show off her unique, sizzling hot Lisa Blue bikinis. Or, her desire to take a break from the busyness of life could lead her to exotic islands with white sand and crystal clear waters, like the Maldives or even Tonga where the whales are in abundance.
Q: End this sentence: Summer is…
A: …a time of fun, joy, parties galore and lazy days in the sun. It is a time for people to gather together to celebrate life and each other.
For a list of stockists, or to purchase Lisa Blue Swimwear online, visit: www.lisablue.com.au
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