"Today, I don't really think there is a man or woman wardrobe anymore."

An interview with Lili Schreiber — Fashion designer

10 May 2022

Lili Schreiber graduated in 2021 with a master's degree from the Brussels institute La Cambre.
The young designer started her collection with an imaginary museum of artists she loves and who inspire her: Lynnette Yiadom Boyakje, Amy Sherald, Emma Amos, Meret Oppenheim and Claude Cahun. She juggles with their identities (whether racial, gender or other). She breaks codes and imposes their gaze, diverting, transforming, imagining and questioning. The pieces in her graduation collection are modular, in the sense that each one can be worn in a different way, depending on the wearer's desire. Men's trousers become a skirt, an oversized men's shirt becomes a jacket, two shirts are put together to form a bomber, cuts and materials enter into dialogue. Lili Schreiber emphasises inclusiveness - so-called feminine pieces interact with pieces from the male wardrobe in this graduation project.

MAD had a talk with Lili Schreiber.

You studied at La Cambre, why did you choose to study fashion, in that school ? What have you been up to since you graduated?

I am one of the few Belgians at  La Cambre. I chose this school because of the graduates, I was sure it would be the perfect match for me. It's a small school and class, coming straight from high school, that' s what I wanted. I was not mistaken, I realize today, working, that the school has given me a lot of technical knowledge and creativity and I understand even more why the school is so famous. Through the various projects we are led to develop our singularity. From the third year onwards we start to really build our universe, which is why it is so interesting to continue with the Master's degree. It really prepares us for the work environment with numerous internships that constitute a real professional card. La Cambre allows us to develop a network that has enabled me to get some great internships, among others. 
After my degree I first worked as a designer for KENZO and now for LEMAIRE for the women's collections.

 

In your graduation collection you focused on inclusivity by creating a wardrobe with modular pieces - so-called feminine pieces interacting with pieces from the men's wardrobe - is educating about inclusivity through fashion in the age of "social washing" important to you?

For this school and research project it was very important for me to highlight inclusiveness. I tried to create new cuts, I wanted to work with the two wardrobe together. Today, I don't really think there is a man or woman wardrobe anymore. It's part of my aesthetic to mix the two wardrobes and if I launch my brand one day, it will probably be part of my concept.
We put a lot of attention on young designers, who must change fashion, but with our small means, we must be vigilant and not fall into "social/green washing".

You received during the Antwerp Belgian fashion Award in 2021 the « Most Promising Graduate » Award, would you say it’s important for young creatives to participate to awards/prices? 

Clearly today prices are very important for young designers, they are great springboards when you want to launch your brand. 
For me, it was important to start my career first on the job market before starting on my own brand. And this student prize in Antwerp has given me the opportunity to meet people, exchange with other designers and actors of the sector. It's always interesting, it's a way of gaining more awareness.

 

The fashion industry is much more than just trends; it is a way to communicate our ideas and our personality. How would you describe your style?

As a designer, I work in a very formal way. I start with a moodboard, I collect my inspirations. Then I work on the bust with a lot of moulding. The ideas come with the fabric, with the shapes, with the cuts. I don't know if there is a word to describe my style but I would say colourful and generous in the cuts. I like to mix a lot of things, volume, material work, working around the body, transparency but also opacity. I try to link my artistic references to my medium. 
To create my graduation collection I looked for sponsorship but most of the materials came from deadstock. I also collaborated with the Delacroix workshops, a craft net workshop. It was a work of colour, we created a collection of jewellery and fabric in yardage. 

If I started my own brand tomorrow I would obviously be interested in deadstock. Reusing what is no longer used is very important in any creative process today. We can have a sustainable  statement by offering timeless and modular pieces for example.

"If I started my own brand tomorrow I would obviously be interested in deadstock. Reusing what is no longer used is very important in any creative process today. We can have a sustainable statement by offering timeless and modular pieces for example."

How would you like the fashion and retail industry to change?

We increasingly hear the words inclusiveness, sustainability, transparency, that's good! But the fashion leaders need to get a little more interested in sustainable solutions and that's how we'll see a real change. Of course small companies have a role to play in the transition, but their impact is less, they generally have a near zero carbon footprint, producing little and often much more locally. But change takes time and is a real challenge. It won't happen overnight, and we still face resistance, scepticism and misinformation. In my opinion, brands that have a lot of power to influence, need to lead by example. However, if everyone makes an effort at his or her level, we will manage to make things happen.

 

There has been a lot of focus on the negative aspects of the circumstances (covid, war etc) of the past years but we'd love to know how it has positively impacted your practice. How has the past years changed the way you view or run your design practice?

I focused my graduation collection on positivity after all the negative events of the past years. For me, fashion is about taking sides, we can imitate, talk about negative thoughts and events and that's fine but we can go both ways and make positive things happen through the events our societies face. 
It's interesting to see the evolution in the history of fashion, and of art according to the society. 

  

What is your opinion on Belgian creation?

I think that Belgian fashion still has a lot to offer. There are a lot of beautiful and diverse initiatives, which reflects well on the country, and a fairly long life expectancy.

  © Alice Pallot
  © Alice Pallot
  © Alice Pallot
  © Alice Pallot