Interview with Indie Fashion Designer Liza Rietz

Craft & Design

Liza Rietz
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Pictured above are fashions from Liza Rietz’s Fall 08 Collection (left to right): drop waist dress with pleated runner, goldenrod cowl skirt with dolman top, gold box dress, faux fur rectangle jacket, origami top with four panel skirt, and half circle herringbone tunic with stand up collar.
(Photographed by: Alicia J. Rose)
In our current issue of CRAFT: 08, we started a new fashion feature showcasing the latest DIY and Indie fashion designers called CRAFT: Collection. One of the featured fashion designers in this spread centered on the theme of “dresses” is Portland, OR based, Liza Rietz. Liza’s modern silhouettes and designs literally caught my eye and I’ve been in love with her work ever since. I got a chance to talk more with Liza about her fashions work, design inspirations, and how the craft of sewing is so important to fashion design.
Natalie: How did you first get interested in becoming a fashion designer? What is your background?
Liza: I have always had a interest in clothing design starting when I made my Barbies’ new outfits out of cutting up old socks. I decided to seriously pursue design in 2001 when i taught myself to sew (after getting my BA in Sociology and Anthropologoy!!). I showed my first collection in 2002 and started selling my designs in a local design collective “Seaplane”.
Natalie: How would you describe your style of fashion?
Liza: My designs are modern yet elegant and have both architectural and sculptural elements. I am satisfied when i know a design will flatter the body while challenging typical silhouettes.
Natalie:Tell me about your fall collection — What was the design inspiration?
My fall collection was influenced by japanese design, cowls, batwing and dolman sleeves, the color gold, and how a shape drapes on the body.
Natalie: How far in advance do you work on your collections and what is the process?
Liza: As soon as an idea comes to mind, i like to sketch it out. These sketches happen randomly months and months before i start designing a collection. I like to add as much as possible to my sketch book and then edit and consolidate ideas, trying to make sure i have a similar theme lacing through each piece – whether than be with shape, texture, or fabrics. I also like to go to fabric stores early on to get inspired. Fabric choice ultimately influences my designs. The drape, texture, color – these are all helpful in molding my ideas. I then usually draft patterns from my sketches to get a basic template. Then the designs are generally altered and manipulated by additional draping. Of course I would like to say the final piece comes to fruition in plenty of time before presenting it on the runway, but i seem to be stitching until 3 am the night before…
Natalie: Do you think having a strong sense of sewing skills is important in fashion design? (Are there any other important skills to add?)
Liza: Definitely. Considering I am completely self taught in all aspects (from design to final garment construction), I can attest that sewing and designing go hand and hand, if not to say they are in a way symbiotic. I only understand how to design a garment because i know how garments are technically put together. And in turn, it is when i am physically sewing a garment that i learn more about design. Each fabric works differently under the needle, each pleat or ruffle falls a certain way depending on how you drape it on the dress form. I am still baffled by the apparel design interns I have had that come straight out of school, proficient in computer programs and full of technical terms, but can barely sew on a button. Like any creative field, one has to find a balance of hands on and technical experience. I started out manipulating fabric and draping it on dress forms to achieve a certain shape or silhouette, almost like a sculptor would. But in apparel design, this is not enough. You have to be able to make sure the sculpture you are creating fits the moving structure that supports it.
Natalie: What are you working on now?
Liza: I just showcased my fall/winter line on the runway last week. And, considering I sew most all of my designs, I am currently in production mode, filling orders… dress at a time.
Fashion designer Liza Rietz (Photographed by: Alicia J. Rose)
From the pages of CRAFT: 08:
“Craft: Collection Dress Up”,Preview the fashion spread here in our Digital Edition.
Visit my Flickr set to see some behind the scenes photos from the fashion photo shoot.

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