Interview with Lisa Crosswhite (Chi Chi Von Tang)

LisaCrosswhite

Restaurant: Sky on 57, Marina Bay Sands.
Menu: Chef Justin Quek has prepared an assortment of savoury and sweet treats.

For the first installment of an ongoing series for Singapore Women’s Weekly (Full Interview Here) that seeks to profile the personalities of Singapore’s fashion scene, Steph Adams sits down with Lisa Crosswhite, founder and designer of Chi Chi Von Tang.

Lisa is the epitome of cool, as evidenced from her personal style, poise and taste in fashion, beauty and music. It also doesn’t hurt that she counts Mick Jagger, Natalie Imbruglia and rapper Eve Jeffers-Cooper as her clients.

Over some nibbles, she pulls back the curtain on her business, her mantras and the things that she loves.

Also, take a leaf out of Lisa’s style book and get yourself a new floral bomber for the season ahead.

Interview featured originally across Singapore Women’s Weekly here.

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Steph Adams: What’s currently in your handbag?

Lisa Crosswhite:
Laptop, laptop charger, chanel foundation powder compact, nars stick blush, MAC lipstick in twig, NAKED eyeshadow palette, MAC eye kohl, my journal, a pen, and random accessories I keep taking off during the day and forgetting there!

Steph Adams: Where do you draw your inspiration from for designing your garments?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

I’m half Chinese, and was born and raised in Canada. I spent a lot of my formative years in Vancouver (which is really Asian), and 8 years ago moved to Singapore — so my cultural experience has been a mix of east and west for as long as I can remember. I use this mixed heritage in how I design – there’s always a eastern element but the overall look is still modern, cool, and contemporary with a playful edge. Collections all have different stories and meanings, but this esthetic and the ‘street-luxe’ vibe is a mainstay.

Steph Adams: How did Mick Jagger come to be your client? You have also designed for?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

We partied in Singapore, and he took an interest to the label. I sent him a bomber jacket, and he asked to order a few more.

Eve Jeffers-Cooper (rapper) is also a client, and she is so super cool. Sampa the Great. Natalie Imbruglia. Fabolous, Kelis, Jasmine Thompson, and some incredible Asian influencers.

I also have some amazing fans and customers that are not famous, but I really admire them. I am most inspired by regular men and women that rock my statement pieces in their own way.

Steph Adams: What two fashion items are you currently coveting?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

The Gucci full-print slippers, and the FENDI little monster bags.

Steph Adams: How do you juggle your work/fitness/down time?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

I make sleep and fitness a necessity, and a prerequisite to perform well at work. You can’t excel in work, and really create magic if you’re not letting your spirit rest and be inspired…. and its important to meditate and let your body lead sometimes as well. I do core exercising (squats, pilates, yoga) every day with a mini meditation, and will get in touch with nature over the weekends.

Steph Adams: You said you love to incorporate political trends into some of your clothes, talk a little more about this?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

Its not so much about political trends – I hate trends in general. I am just always reading, and really immersing myself with issues in the world at large, cultural exploration, feminist ideology, as well as stuff more specific to woman’s issues and human rights abuses.

So from this viewpoint, its safe to say that a lot of my design inspiration is sprouted from my political, cultural or philosophical thoughts.  For eg, my first collection was about defining my concept of strong women. My Burma collection was about diversity of beauty, and particularly the vanishing cultural diversity in Myanmar – after I did an in-depth journey to various tribes in Loikaw. I did an essay on my thoughts on cultural diversity which launched with Harper’s BAZAAR when the collection came out. My recent Anime collection is a feminist call to action – its about superheroes, particularly women, and there was a strong message in the fashion presentations around being your own hero. Celebrating individual strength.

The next collection for FW17 is called “FIGHT THE POWER”. I think you can guess what that is inspired by…. 😉

Steph Adams: How did you start with the Bomber jacket as your key piece? What was the inspiration behind this?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

I have always loved bomber jackets because they are statement without being too stiff and formal. My line is street-luxe, always elegant, but street and cool. The bomber jacket really straddles that divide nicely when its done in a luxe way.

Steph Adams: Name one beauty item you are loving right now?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

Chanel Perfection Lumiere Extreme – powder foundation. Its my fav, for very natural but effective coverage. I just stick it on any blemishes and it blends nicely with your natural skin, for a barely there look.

Steph Adams: How do you prepare for your fashion events, what do you do in the lead up to it?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

You have to be a war general before an event. There’s about a million actions to be executed, and if I don’t oversee every detail, history has taught me that there will be some sort of disaster. I organise the whole production, every detail from choreography to light, sound, retail set-up. I’ve found great people who are good at particular things and help me pull it all together from their respective silos.

Its exhilarating despite the stress. When the time comes to ‘perform’ I usually take a moment to meditate for a few minutes on a chair somewhere and recenter myself.

Steph Adams: Whats next for Chi Chi Von Tang, where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

We’ll have multiple stores across Asia and in the West. They will be amazing experience areas, where you can really immerse yourself in the brand and vibe with us. We’ll be selling at key international retailers, and continue growing in awareness through meaningful celebrity collaborations. Its going to be a beautiful journey there.

Steph Adams: How did you find your manufacturer when you first started out with Chi Chi Von Tang?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

I tried 5 bad ones, then was suggested a good one by an investor. Luck!

Steph Adams: Where do you like to go out with friends when you want to enjoy a night out in Singapore?

Lisa Crosswhite: 

I go to Kilo and dance the night away. Its the only club I go to in Singapore. I’m not interested in going out to meet people really… I’m more interested in having the anonymity to just enjoy the music, and Kilo has gorgeous music always.

 

Feature and banner images: Christopher Wong