London based designer Azura Lovisa talks to us about her mission, personal isolation story, and thoughts on the changing world.
By Naomi Barling.
Name: Azura Lovisa
In these unprecedented times, the entire creative industry as we know it has been put on hold indefinitely. Here I Digi-meet Azura Lovisa who is a designer based in London but currently quarantined in Miami, to talk about her mission, personal isolation story, and thoughts on the changing world.
Who is Azura Lovisa – Tell me about yourself?
I’m a Swedish-Malaysian designer, artist, and writer based between London and Miami. I was born in northern Sweden and moved to Miami with my parents as a kid in 2000. I grew up there until I moved to London at 18 to study womenswear at Central Saint Martins, and after graduation launched my slow fashion luxury brand Azura Lovisa. Storytelling is at the root of what I do, using various mediums. My research spans across archives and hidden histories, folklore and mythology, ecology, and critical theory. I examine identity and cultural convergence through my work, influenced by the multicultural vibrancy and topicality of Miami, Southeast Asian cultural traditions, and a Scandinavian eye for design.
How do you perceive the meaning of creativity?
It means world-building, chasing ideas, creating alternative realities, telling stories, making matter, exploring new methods and solutions, asking and answering questions that move us, and following curiosity and inspiration to surprising and wonderful ends.
What is the overarching feeling you currently have?
I feel sad, anxious, and uneasy about the current situation, but also very grateful, resolved, and inspired. I feel ready to meet this new future head-on and work toward the changes we need in society and our industry.
What are the things that have fed your soul in quarantine?
Family, home-cooked meals, kayak journeys on the bay, sunshine, group video chats.
What things had you forgotten you loved?
Early mornings, saltwater, spending time with my mother in the kitchen, reading for hours.
How do you think your industry will change post quarantine?
We were all long overdue for a period of introspection, and this time to reflect and slow down will inevitably spur powerful lasting change. We will learn the true cost of our products, our reliance on the many hands they pass through, the need for dialing back, reclaiming control, and making things with intention and care. Storytelling, connecting, and building trust will now be even more essential. We can no longer push meaningless, uninspired ‘stuff’ to insatiable consumers because consumer behavior and the economy will be impacted by this pandemic. Businesses will have to learn to adapt, be more nimble and flexible, and be ready and reactive to the huge shifts ahead. There are promising and exciting evolutions like the migration of fashion weeks to digital platforms to cope with the current situations, which will open up a lot of new dimensions for fashion to grow in.
What is your biggest fear going forward?
That we won’t be able to be close to the people we love for a long time. That we will have to let go of some of our dreams, and lose people we love to this virus. I’m afraid this will all be too much. But also, I fear that we won’t learn our lessons and we’ll let things go back to the way they were before the pandemic – unsustainable and self-destructive.
What will be your biggest take away from this moment in time?
All the lessons this event has quickly and ruthlessly taught us about how fragile, flawed, and inflexible our systems are, and how humanity needs to adapt and respond in a way that cares for us collectively. It has also demonstrated how we can overcome the limitations of inadequate systems and come together as individuals to find solutions, connect, and authentically care. With society shutting down, breaking away from our mass gatherings, and retreating into little self-isolating units, we remember the essential things: to slow down.To take the time to acknowledge and appreciate everything we have, and to love the people in our lives. To take pause and make sure we are aligning with our purpose. To act responsibly and ethically, and to stay connected. To remember to build for the future, the need to be adaptable and innovative and for our health, to stay active and train mentally and physically.
What is your mission?
To explore points of intercultural exchange and create space for hybrid identities, and to craft a mythology that people can inhabit. To design meaningfully and intuitively, draw from the wisdom and heritage of traditional folk dress, and look to nature for solutions, shape, and sensuality. Looking toward this uncertain future, and in the hope of building a better tomorrow, I want to create adaptable, modular clothing that is suited to our ever-changing, challenging new world. I want to build a brand with integrity that is committed to sustainability, ethical practice, supporting traditional crafts and culture, and illuminating hidden narratives. I strive to create beautiful, intelligent, seasonless, and gender-fluid garments, made with intention to become part of a life story.
Storytelling is one of the most important and useful tools we have as humans, and it will help us survive this pandemic and also remember it. We can honor lives with stories, and feel histories deeply. We should all be better storytellers and with whatever voice we have – be it words, images, sound, or using our bodies – see carrying our stories into the future as our responsibility, because we carry not only wisdom but the memory and weight of emotion and experience.
Portraits by Daniel Archer.