House of Liza is like the ultimate wardrobe you wish you had. Even though sniffing your way through your favourite vintage shop has its own charm, finding a true treasure at House of Liza is virtually guaranteed. By making pieces of fashion history accessible to the public, House of Liza brings the iconic designs of Comme des Garçons, Martin Margiela and Gianni Versace, to name but a few, back to the streets to celebrate and cherish visionary design. Volt Café caught up with Gonçalo Velosa, the founder and ‘curator’ of House of Liza.
Volt Café: What inspired you to set up House of Liza?
Gonçalo Velosa: During my teenage years in the 80’s, I lived between Oporto and Paris. I got involved in the whole clubbing and music scene and of course fashion was intrinsically entwined with both. I was part of a generation that developed a revolutionary taste for experimentation, and for sure I have used fashion as a way to explore and define my personality. Since those days I have been collecting fashion, which in turn led to opening shops in Portugal. After moving to London and studying fashion design at LCF, I realised that I prefer to work with other designers’ work so I decided to go back to vintage retail.
VC: How do you select pieces for the House of Liza collection? Do you have a particular criteria?
GV: The most important criteria is that I must fall in love with the piece first. But for me to really appreciate a piece, it has to be unique and represent the epitome of a particular period, innovation or designer’s career. My collection can be said to be very niche – the designers, their unique approach in terms of materials, cut or style, even though vintage, are still today considered cutting-edge and experimental. For instance, most people still today don’t understand Rei Kawakubo’s deconstructed clothes or the exuberance and pop aesthetic of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. There is a strong bias towards the 80’s and early 90’s which again reflect my personal tastes in life.
VC: What kind of clientele does House of Liza generally attract?
GV: A mix of fashion conscious clients, trend-setters, musicians and stylists. We also have a few fashion houses as clients.
VC: You lent some pieces to the Fashion Museum MOMU in Antwerp for an exhibition. Which garments were these?
GV: A hand-knitted cotton, rayon, nylon, polyester and lycra dress by Bodymap from 1985.
VC: By buying pieces from House of Liza, people can actually wear pieces of fashion history. What do you think about exhibiting garments in museums compared to in fact wearing these pieces?
GV: I definitely think the pieces should be worn. For me there is nothing like seeing people on the street with a unique sense of style. Fashion has the power to convey so many messages. Look at Lady Gaga or Madonna for instance. Both their careers were built on a clever appropriation of cutting-edge fashion that is provocative, yet alluring. But having said that I also think it is important to preserve and conserve some of the most influential pieces so that future generations can have first-hand access to better understand the evolution of fashion and craftsmanship.
VC: Do you have a favourite fashion museum?
GV: The Costume Institute at the Met in New York.
VC: What do you think of the pace of fashion nowadays?
GV: It’s just overwhelming! We live in a world where we tire of trends before they become available! We should listen to Azzedine Alaïa, try to change the fashion system, slow it down and stop the relentless demand for more and more collections!
VC: What fascinates you about vintage fashion?
GV: It is impossible to understand the present without looking at the past. For me it helps to understand what is happening now.
VC: What do you think of the vintage/second-hand trend that has been so strong over the past few years? Do you think people will continue to consume as much vintage?
GV: With the current economical climate people are looking to vintage fashion for reassurance and a sense of heritage, a sort of a cultural reference that oozes sophistication and an educated choice, almost like a sense of pedigree.
Words by Eve Keskinen
TagsAkiko Kawasaki, Anna Priadka, Azzedine Alaïa, Bodymap, Comme des Garçons, David Motta, Eve Keskinen, Gianni Versace, Gonçalo Velosa, House of Liza, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Martin Margiela, Masha Mel, New Breed, premier models, Rei Kawakubo,