Lisa Perry’s passion for modern art always comes through in her designs, and each season it’s a joy to sit down with her and hear about who and what has inspired her latest collection. For Spring ‘17, she explored the work of Brice Marden, the American minimalist known for his nuanced approach to color. Below, she tells us about how leaving her comfort zone paid off and why empowering women will always be the goal of her designs.
The Window: Tell us about the Spring 2017 collection and how you were inspired by Brice Marden.
Lisa Perry: Looking at Brice Marden’s work was a little bit of a departure from the true primary colors that I use and that everyone knows me for. Brice Marden is about the more offbeat colors that come from mixing, which he did a brilliant job of. Working on this collection was really about an exploration of color. Once I saw the color palette coming together, I decided to see how we could mix them. What was interesting about it was that I went from, in the past, thinking that certain colors clashed, to realizing that all these colors can work together. It was a great place to come to.
What were some of the surprising color combinations that you found along the way?
I was always very hesitant to use yellow and black together—I always thought that combination made you look like a bumblebee! What I found was that by adding grey, like on the gown [above], it immediately made me love the combo. Usually when I think of burgundy, I haven’t been a fan because it reminds me of ‘back to school’ from when I was 10, but when I combined it with pale pink, it was so beautiful. I think the interesting combinations give the collection an edge that people are responding to.
Besides the color palette, what other elements of Brice Marden’s work inspired you?
I’m a minimalist at heart, and Brice is the ultimate minimalist artist. It’s his use of minimalism and geometry that I’m drawn to. I’m known in my collections for colorblocking, and he’s a colorblock painter—although you don’t call it that in the art world, per se. But the way he creates beautiful blocks of color is exactly what my eye is drawn to.
What’s your creative process like? Do you have to have a specific theme in mind when you embark on a new collection?
I start with something that I’ve seen out in the world that inspires me—in this case, the Brice Marden show. I like to dig deeper into something once I decide to focus on it, so I did a complete study of his work. It was interesting because when you look at his body of work, he does these monochromatic paintings with just three stripes, and then he’s also known for his fluid line, abstract black-and-white paintings created freeform using a stick—they aren’t geometric at all. The juxtaposition of the two styles is very interesting. From there, I created a moodboard and then a cohesive color story. After that, we explored fabric and dye and created our own prints. Then we sample, and before you know it, a collection is done and it’s time to start on the next one!
Do you design with specific muses or women in mind?
When I started almost 10 years ago, it was all about empowering women. It was about allowing women to be able to really shine in these clothes. I’ve been using this hot pink color since my first collection. Women would always come to me and say, “I could never wear that, it’ll make me stand out too much.” I would always tell them that standing out is a good thing. It’s important to be able to walk into a room and feel you don’t have to hide. In New York especially, all my ladies just wanted to wear black, and I’d try to get into their psyche by holding that pink to their face so they could feel themselves glowing. There’s a way, through clothes, to help women feel empowered and step out of their comfort zones—that has always been very important to me. I love getting emails and notes from women who appreciated how wearing color made them feel powerful. I’m really proud of that.