June 14, 2017 2:00 PM

Born and raised in New York City– we could also add, "in love with”– Allina Liu is a refreshing womenswear designer, who questions the delicate relationship between innocence and sexuality. She does so, not because she wants to shock and sell, but because the question offers her genuine intrigue. TWELV encourages you to get to know the free-spirited Allina Liu in our intimate interview below.


----------- Allina Liu's INTERVIEW -----------


1.Where are you from?

New York!


2.How would you describe your personal style?

Low-key with lots of black.


3.What brings you to New York?

I’m from New York, so I moved back after 4 years of college in Baltimore, Maryland. It just worked out that my career path lined up with one of the best cities to pursue it.


4.What brought about your interest in Nobuyoshi Araki?

Araki’s photography has been a heavy source of inspiration since I saw his work back in the early 2000’s. I love his ability to create images that are unapologetically sexual. His BDSM imagery has been of particular interest to me. There are subtle nods to his work within my collections. For example, I used a lot of free hanging straps last season in reference to the ropes and suspension in his photographs. I think committing to your core concepts and not censoring your work is the most important thing when you’re a creative which is why I’m so drawn to Araki’s work.


5.What designers or artists do you most admire?

I admire Simone Rocha’s dark femininity, Rei Kawakubo’s fearlessness (and all around beautiful mind), and Ren Hang’s ability to see and capture beauty in its rawest form.


6.What are your main sources of inspiration?

The focal point of my work is the dynamic between innocence and sexuality. One of the pieces that’s always stuck with me was the John Everett Millais painting of Ophelia (1982). I think that painting encompasses a lot of the themes in my clothing and I even based my entire college thesis around it. I also love Ren Hang’s work. He could see people at their most vulnerable and make them look powerful. Coming from a strict upbringing and a culture that hides sex, it’s always refreshing for me to see individuals that try to reduce the stigma. Sexuality is the basis for a lot of things. There’s nothing wrong with exploring those parts of yourself because it’s a necessity for self-realization.


7.As a fashion designer, what is your proudest accomplishment to date?

I’m the most excited about my growth as a creative and as an individual, but I’m honestly proud of everything. I can’t say there’s been a moment where I’ve taken any of my traction for granted. When you’re trying to make a company work in your 20’s, you should be grateful for everything that comes your way. In terms of a specific moment though, it would probably be when I saw my name in a credit lineup that consisted of Celine, Chanel, and Jason Wu. They’re all designers and brands I’ve looked up to for years so it was surreal to see my name next to theirs!


8.How do you see the brand growing in the next ten years?

I’m looking to expand to Asia soon. Even though I was born in the U.S., I’m ethnically Chinese so I think heading back to my roots would be a great thing to explore. I’m hoping that the brand can continue to stay true to its initial roots. I know a lot of small brands end up having to change and compromise to satisfy the ever-changing consumer market but in 10 years, I hope my pieces are still a direct reflection of my journey as a designer.


9.What is the most challenging part of your work?

There’s a lot of challenges that come with running a business. Right now, I’m pretty much running the creative aspects as well as executive decisions on my own, so things can get a bit hectic. I think the most challenging thing varies, depending on where I am in the development of the season.


10.Do you have any upcoming projects that we should be waiting on?

I’ve been working on a personal project. It's an ongoing documentation of my process and insights in the industry. I want people to see that there is a lot that goes into making a line. Fashion isn’t rocket science, but there’s still time and thought that goes into well-considered garments. There will be behind the scenes photos of factory visits, fittings, mood boards, and anything that pertains to cultivating a new collection. I also think that I’m going to throw a party soon, so that should be fun.


11.What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of work?

Designing used to be my hobby but now that it’s my occupation. I try to use my downtime on other things. I practice Muay Thai (badly), hang out with my dog, and try not to kill my plants. I love having foliage in my apartment because green is such a soothing color (and purifies the air), but apparently I don’t have a green thumb at all.


12.Do you have any favorite place in New York? And why?

The American Wing at The Met. It’s just a beautiful, well-lit, and relaxing spot.


13.What words would you use to describe yourself?

Impulsive, direct, and secretly optimistic.


14.Do you have any life-essential tips for our readers?

Commit to the things you want to achieve and don’t be afraid of judgment.


15.What are your lifelong dreams?

I don’t tend to think too far into the future but I hope at some point I can relocate to California and continue the line there. I really love the general feeling of California (and the weather). Every time I’ve been out there, I’ve felt like a better version of myself. It would be great to live there, at least for a while.









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