Interview with Kisskill Lingerie
Lindsay is the founder of that je ne sais quoi, a lifestyle blog about living in lingerie. She loves to support indie brands, as she firmly believes in supporting local economies, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
I found Kisskill lingerie by stumbling upon this provocative video, which sparked my interest in the line. It’s a new indie label from Australia designed by Jane Carrodus, an amazing, inspiring, good-to-the-bone lingerie obsessed gal. I’d never met Jane in person before lingerie fashion week, and we serendipitously ran into each other on the street prior to our scheduled meeting.
The style that suits me most is the Bond bra and knicker… the strappiness of the bra makes it a great piece to wear under a sheer blouse. I can’t write to the fit or feel of this lingerie, but I love how there are buckles all the way up the back of the knickers. Kisskill’s main model, Chrissy Walzack is just divine. She has that je ne sais quoi in the most audacious, daring, and confident way. What’s not to love?
Who or what inspired you to pursue lingerie design as a career?
It’s a funny thing because becoming a lingerie designer has really been the result of the evolution of different roles. When I was younger my interests and studies were more weighted to the fine arts and writing… I never even imagined I would end up working in fashion.
I worked for Just Jeans, a large fashion retailer, at the age of 19. I really enjoyed the culture and looked up to the buyers when they presented their ranges to us. Part of that company is an iconic sleepwear label, Peter Alexander; Peter really believed in me and let me take on the intimates department when I showed the interest and I guess a little flair in pulling together cute things and packaging.
By the time I left Peter six years later to design my own lingerie label, I was accountable for designing a pretty high percentage of the business over several departments. The essence of the Peter Alexander brand is very cute and girly, but my design aesthetic often was a bit too sexy. Growing up and moving on saw me taking on a more mature product.
That said, I’ve always loved lingerie. Even when I was young and broke, I always spent more money on nice lingerie than I did on clothes. More than ten years ago and over many drinks, a close friend of mine and I wrote down our goals and aspirations after breaking up with our first boyfriends. Apparently my goal at the time was to be a lingerie designer – it’s funny, because I’d forgotten about this and didn’t work towards it initially. But my goal manifested itself anyway! She only reminded me of this recently!
I absolutely LOVE the video you shot. It has such a badass vibe. Tell us more about the inspiration behind that.
The video is actually the brain child of director Nathan Bobik who owns Shotcut Entertainment with his fiance Sher Tualla; he actually approached me after following my Instagram account and said he’d love to do a Kisskill video. I realised I knew his partner Sher from her days as a fashion stylist, so we hooked up a meeting with Nathan to discuss. Initially, we were going to recreate the set of the campaign shoot but decided to go down an entirely different path. Nathan called me one day on the way back from a road trip (he looking for a location for another job he was doing) and told me he had found the perfect location for the Kisskill video. It involved a long road, an old hotel and an unused railway track. The rest was entirely his vision. The video ended up being a collaboration of an awesome group of creatives. Music producer Matt Sofo & Maxi Vauzelle rerecorded Bill Withers’s song ‘Use Me,’ stylist Elaine Marshall (behind many high end fashion shoots) dressed Chrissy impeccably, and Nathan and Sher used the ‘Blackmagic’ cinema camera to pull the vision together.
The day itself was one I’ll never forget. Chrissy’s make-up call was 4:45 AM and then we had a road trip to the location. The crew had stayed at the scary roadhouse hotel, where we filmed the first scene. Chrissy nailed the vintage bombshell babe from the first take. The second scene was filmed on the long straight stretch of road where Chrissy was wearing the racy cutout ‘Lana’ sets – let’s just say somehow several huge trucks managed to turn around and pass us several times. We made the day a bit more interesting for many men who happened to pass by. For the railway track scene, we sacrificed the talented music producer Matt Sofo and tied him to a chair on the tracks. Nathan seemed pretty comfortable with this and told me the tracks were unused to ease my mind. Turns out it’s a working line and I’m still glad to this day no trains came – Matt patiently sat blindfolded and tied to the chair for several takes (including a photo opportunity by the local paper). Anyway, I’m glad everyone survived the day… we are all great friends now.
Tell me about the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a lingerie designer.
I think people think it’s a lot of fun and photoshoots and events with models as this is the end result that gets published and it’s what people see. The reality is that there’s a lot of work on my own in the studio, measuring garments down to the half centimetre – pulling a collection together and running the business side of things at the same tine is harder than it looks. Production always has its challenges, as the end result of a garment is dependent on so many different people, factory circumstances, fabric, labels, deliveries – all of these need to happen and if one thing falls over there are big headaches!
The good is I get to create beautiful things. The excitement and feedback from customers, some of whom I have never met, gives such a buzz. I get so many boyfriends and husbands buying online, and they often follow up with a thank you which is so fantastic.
Are you currently a one-woman show? How does that work? Are all of your pieces made in Australia, and is that important to you?
Yes. Officially it’s just me, but I don’t really feel like im doing it alone because I’m surrounded by so many supportive people, I could list so many. My production is done off shore in China. To be honest, the means to make lingerie on a commercial level doesn’t exist in Australia. The fabrics, trims and technology I have access to are highest quality which is really important to me. The factory I work with is a small boutique factory that makes for only a small number of high end labels. I visit the factory at least twice a year and know the staff now. They are a great team.
Was there a moment when you decided to launch Kisskill lingerie? Tell us about it (we love these stories).
I left my secure job at Peter Alexander to work at a lingerie label, which folded after 18 months. The natural thing to do is go look for a job, but the factory was set up for this label and I felt responsible to take their welfare into consideration as much as my own. I had built relationships with the team and we were producing a great product, I felt I wasn’t finished with my ideas and creativity, and it seemed a shame to walk away. My initial thoughts were that I couldn’t design as well as run a business, but when I thought about it – I realised that its actually what I’ve been doing for many years. I’ve got skills in buying and logistics, so the main risk was just a little thing called money. If I had time to think about starting a label while being paid a great salary every month I may have never done it. It was a push and I went with it.
I feel like there is often a discrepancy between bondage and femininity — sometimes brands have a hard time portraying both well. What’s your philosophy on that?
I think there is a distinct difference between bondage in fashion and in the actual fetish scene. Real bondage is a pretty serious scene and definitely far from feminine. In fashion, its more a play on this and more a way of capturing a drama away from the rules of sugar and spice boudoir lingerie. Most bondage-style lingerie is actually designed to be seen as part of your outfit rather than being for a sexual purpose. Photographer Peter Coulson, who I do a lot of work with, has actually shot a yet-to-be-released bondage-style shoot of Chrissy Walczak. We had a chat about the whole bondage thing. It’s not something any of us are into or understand so much, but it does make for a great creative direction that exudes strength and power. I can’t wait to share this shoot – it’s been picked up by an editorial so hopefully not too far away!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received, career or otherwise?
To be honest, I think it’s really important to listen to yourself. If I listened to advice I’d be super confused, a lot of people tend to give you advice when you start a business, decide to buy property, etc. I really believe in trusting yourself and not getting clouded by other peoples’ opinions as they can be negative or scare you away from doing things. I guess when the business grows I’ll need to seek a little more advice, though!!
Every entrepreneur has to take a leap of faith. What were/are your biggest fears?
Biggest fear: having to live in a cardboard box and having no money to buy fabulous shoes. But hey, there are plenty of people in this position and they survive so I’m not listening to fears. I read this saying recently and pops into my head a lot.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
-Thomas A. Edison
What was your life like prior to starting Kisskill — where did you work and how have your dreams changed?
I’ve worked nine to five, Monday to Friday for 14 years. I’ve worked hard and have always appreciated the value of a dollar. When you’re working for big companies, you gauge success on the big pay packet and once you get there, you realise it actually is not the recipe for happiness. My level of happiness is higher at present even though my financial reward is nonexistent. I guess it’s because I am following my dreams, in the way I want, with the people I choose – positive actions, I believe, bring a positive result.
What is the Kisskill woman like? Where does she hang out, what does she drink, dine, and where does she work?
The Kisskill woman wears her fabulous lingerie everyday, to work and when she goes out. She loves boys but doesn’t need a boyfriend to be happy. She loves a cocktail but drinks a beer when she feels like it. She likes to eat at casual, cool restaurants with communal tables where she can be social and have a good time. She hangs out in the city and loves events but loves the beach and quiet weekends. She works in an office but has dreams of (or is) working on something of her own. She is never one woman.
What is your own style signature and who is your style muse?
My style switches from the very girly dresses and heels to rock-inspired leather pants and loose t-shirts; I like changing it up. I think in my thirties, my style is becoming more immature than I was in my twenties, ha – I used to dress up a lot more when I worked nine to five. I’m wearing jeans and my leopard flats more than I would like these days, so I love an excuse to get dressed up. I always design things I’d want to wear myself :-).
I don’t really look at others for my sense of style, but more what I see going on in fashion. As for style muses, I love model Erin Wasson and Aussie model Cheyenne Tozzi who is the brand muse for Kisskill. These girls have an understated sense of style and always look cool. Elle Macpherson is always so well put together, even when wearing a pair of jeans and a blazer.
On a style note, I’m always in awe of the stylists I work with and how they style my designs – they put together outfits I’d never dream of. Sophie Barker styled my first campaign and I’ve worked a lot with Elaine Marshall.
On that note, are there any fashion rules you love to break?
When I grew up, a bra strap showing was an embarrassment, a big no no – breaking that rule and changing out lingerie to be a feature is the biggest rule I like to break.
What Kisskill pieces do you love and wear the most?
I love the Sophie bodysuit. I wear it with skirts, jeans and my leather pants… it has so many uses. The Ruby is my favourite, as I imported the lace on this one from France and the shade of pink on the silk really pops. It’s so pretty.
A guilty pleasure?
Getting out of bed about two hours later than I used to. I hope to change this habit one day though, but hey I’ve earned it! I end up working late most nights now, but that’s when the ideas flow!
Last song you listened to?
I’m listening to a playlist based on Bon Iver on Spotify right now – at this exact moment, it’s Everlasting Lght by The Black Keys.
Three things every woman should have in her closet?
About 40 pairs of fabulous heels, one pair of flats, leather pants, and a Kisskill t-shirt – my photographer has a t-shirt printer and made me one, I love it.
Jane’s favorite things:
Band: I’ve had Frank Ocean on repeat since Channel Orange was released. I’m more into rock bands and seeing live music than dance music. We have a great scene here in Melbourne.
Food: I eat clean — fish is the only meat I eat and lots of veggies. Love chilli and Asian flavours.
Drink: I love a gin!
Ice cream flavour: Salted chocolate caramel — yummo!
Artist: I have a few pieces from a French artist called Yaz I picked up in Bali — really cool street art-style stuff mounted on a light box.
Photographer: Peter Coulson
Designer: Australia’s Sass & Bide; their style is so unique, which is so rare in fashion.
Lingerie Brand (other than your own!): I love I.D. Sarrieri from Romania, it’s so sexy and glamourous.
Shoes: I’m not brand specific, but I have alot of shoes.
Restaurant: I love a cheap Vietnamese restaurant, relaxed dining is a lot more fun than a fancy environment.
Lingerie shop: Journelle in NYC.
Beauty product: Bronzer.
If you could only choose one…
Pair of shoes: YSL Killer heel
Top: Black t-shirt
Jeans: High waisted dark denim
Vacation destination: Bali
Fragrance: Elie Saab
Where do you see yourself and your brand in five years? Ten?
I just want to have a cool office, a couple of stores, a small and passionate team of staff, lets see….
Photos courtesy of Kisskill lingerie and Jane Carrodus.