I discovered Lisa on Instagram where is was captivated by her her beautiful images and her stunning use of color. Naturally I wanted to find out more about her unique style. Enjoy!
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m an Australian designer living in Bhuj. It’s a small, off the beaten track town in the Kutch district of northwest India. I moved to Bhuj almost 4 years ago with my 3 senior Aussie cats and my state-of-the-art sewing machine!
Enticed by the prospect of working with gorgeous textiles and embroideries unique to this area…… I decided to follow the dream and embarked on a radical ‘sea change’ I swapped fashionable Sydney for hot, dry, dusty but exotic Bhuj and haven’t looked back!
Prior to this, I’d had a long, exciting and rewarding career creating costumes for Australian theatre, film and TV as well a making bespoke made to measure garments for private clients.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
Born in 1963, so I’m 51!
I’m lucky to enjoy good health, and don’t feel any different from how I did 20 years ago. I’m happily single and childless by choice, so I don’t have those significant reference points as a reminder of time passing.
I really don’t give my age much thought, too many other things are way more important!
Can you tell us a bit more about your business Madame Hall and why you created it?
Madame Hall gives me the opportunity to do what I love and what I believe I do best! That is, creating ‘show stopping style’ using embellishments, attention to detail and great cut.
I realized there are many women (of all shapes and sizes) who, like me, are happy to be noticed for their individuality, and don’t want to dress like everyone else does….
The advantage of being a small company is that I can work with women on an individual basis to give them something different that fits them well and that is certain to turn heads.
Mature women do get married, go to parties, like to be complimented and enjoy an active social life just like they did when they were younger. But maturity brings with it a heightened sense of identity and an appreciation of quality. Bohemian women who have outgrown their hippy cheesecloth and tie dye Tee’s but still love having a whimsical free spirited air about them are the people I design for!
Living in India gives me access to beautiful, artisan made textiles that I endeavor to use in non-traditional, quirky and unexpected ways. I am professionally trained in the ‘European’ style of pattern making and garment construction, which makes my range different from ‘Indian’ clothes most people are familiar with.
How would you describe your own style?
Urban boho chic….but more chic than boho!
I like eclectic dressing, when every single piece I’m wearing is interesting in itself and not just a clutter of mindless trendiness.
I like everything to be real! Eclectic, interesting, genuine and unique.
I’m a very ‘truthful’ kind of dresser, I don’t like fake anything…
Perhaps that’s the reason, despite loving animal prints I never wear them….!
What would you consider the most important components of your style?
Harmonizing colours, a playful, witty touch and a sense of drama are all elements that distinguish Madame Hall style.
- My long full maxi skirts really are my favourite, if I don’t wear them for a few days I get withdrawals! They are comfortable, suit my slightly ‘pear’ shape and tick all the boxes for living in a hot climate. Teamed with a Tee or singlet and a shawl, with all my antique tribal silver it’s the easiest way to dress each day and feel fabulous.
- I don’t like tight clothes and I hate looking like everyone else. My Signature Skirts are lavish and dramatic! This has always been one of my benchmarks for a successful ‘look’….
- I love pure cotton and linen….I never wear or make anything from synthetics.
- My eyesight’s terrible, so big glasses are a recent addition to the Madame Hall ‘look’
- I love hats at anytime… My battered old Panama gets daily updates (as you’ll see from these pics) with a bit of colour coordinating embroidery or even fresh orange marigolds!
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
Bhuj is a small conservative town.
Women here dress modestly in keeping with their tribal traditions and society’s expectations….For me this means I don’t wear clothes that show bare skin legs and I keep my shoulders covered in public, in respect for locally acceptable attire.
I’ve never worn a sari, it just doesn’t ‘feel’ me and is not part of my culture…….
I’ve adopted a look that’s completely different from anyone else’s, and I look different from other westerners too; different from the locals and pretty much different in general!
I’m inspired by the colours and styles worn by the local tribal women and living in a community where I’m a foreigner, I can get away with mixing all those styles up. Something that the local ladies seem to delight in!……I borrow a little of everyone’s culture and my own style just evolved!
Do you feel you have a signature style?
Yes! Glamorous, sophisticated boho…
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
Without wanting to sound like a total fashion frump…..I do like to be comfortable! You won’t find me wearing a strapless ball gown on a freezing cold night. I believe comfort makes for a happy face, induces relaxed easy conversation and feeling at ease. This makes others feel at ease! Looking good is only half the story…being relaxed and happy is essential to looking stylish and leaving a good impression, so first and foremost, I check the weather report!
Coming second is ‘where am I?’ In India I feel good in colors, I know anything red, orange or pink is sure to become a favorite, although sometimes I surprise myself..My ‘shabby’ striped Indigo Signature Skirt has become an enduring staple… it goes with everything, has a beautiful ‘swish’ and I always feel fabulous in it.
If I’m outside of India I might tone down my palate a bit because when traveling your needs are different and you want some basic pieces to pull a variety looks together. I still wear color, but am more likely to team it with neutrals or classic styles.
I don’t like black much because, well it’s a little easy, isn’t it! I would rather opt for navy, tan, chocolate or off white as neutrals because they enhance other colors in a way black never does, My hair is black, and that’s enough in my opinion!
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
I’ve never been color profiled, but think it’s a great idea for women who suddenly find the ‘look’ they’ve worn for years isn’t working for them anymore and need a new direction.
My personal opinion is that if you resonate with a certain color, it will suit you or you can work with it to make it suit you! That’s why colour profiling is really great because you can learn how to do it.
I enjoy bright colours, but not all look great close to my face, so I have some lovely bright skirts and team them with tops that do compliment my skin tone. That way I still get to enjoy some of my favorite shades without looking drained or sallow.
Because my hips are wider proportionally, I don’t believe tops that finish at hip level suit me and never wear them. Instead, I love wearing long A line tunics with a refined fit at the shoulder and bust. Worn with either narrow or wide leg Indian style pants, it’s a classic Indian look I’ve adapted to suit my figure type.
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
I suppose so, but it’s been to do with more confidence in myself rather than decision to dress differently. When I was younger, I was shy and super critical of my body. As I’ve grown older I’ve realized my body is a good one! I’m not a supermodel, but hey…..most people are not! My body is healthy and has served me very well, which makes me extreemely lucky, and certainly not something to be embarrassed about!
Also, when I was younger I was more influenced by people I admired and the outcomes I anticipated by dressing in a particular way. Of course, I enjoy seeing a sense of style in others, but don’t feel it’s necessary for me to adopt their look too! As for attempting to engineer outcomes by dressing in a particular way, don’t bother! It doesn’t fool anyone who really matters.
Being more accepting of myself has been an inevitable gift in the shift of my style after turning 40!
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
Dressing appropriately for any given occasion shows sensitivity, event awareness and for others attitudes and beliefs. Dressing ‘age’ appropriately is not something I feel challenged by or pressured in to. I wear what I feel is right for me at that time and place. People either embrace the way you are feeling or they don’t. If they don’t, it really says more about their issues than with mine. I don’t consider it my problem!
I’ve never been attracted to particularly cute or girly looks, which is maybe why dressing age appropriately is rather a non issue for me.
Would you say that at this stage of your life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?
Style has always been my passion and the way I dress each day is really important to me. Harmonising colours and pleasing proportions are essential for me to feel comfortable. I take this aspect of dressing very seriously.
But, if my look has a touch of the unexpected or humor to it, all the better… It can give you a smile when you least expect it!
Only this week, being annoyed by my hair in the heat and with no hairclip on hand, I used a color co-ordinating plastic clothes peg instead! This gave me a good laugh and the fun of it continued throughout the day, when I saw others smile when they noticed it.
A quirky anti fashion statement like this, one that was spontaneous and answered an immediate need, but was completely silly, I believe contributed to my style on that day because it was added without much thought, and was playful….not too serious and the last thing folks were expecting in Madame Hall’s hair!
Why is the way you look important to you?
I am creative, and the way I put myself together is an art form I enjoy everyday.
Color influences my mood and I know I simply will enjoy the day more if my colors ‘sing’……I get huge pleasure from exciting color or print combinations and if that’s heightened with some different texture like embroidery for example, I know I’ll get a total buzz!
Also, looking my best is a way of expressing my regard for others and consequently brings out the best in other people. I’m certain my 2 lovely assistants would not be as enthusiastic and inspired by their work if I thought ‘Oh, I’m only going to the workroom today, I won’t bother dressing properly’ …..on top of that, you never know what each day will bring. Best to be looking fabulous and prepared for anything, always!
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
Trends…The best thing about living in Bhuj is I’m not exposed of them!
I just love creating without rules imposed. I mean this current boho thing is not about real artisan made products, mostly is all mass produced throw away stuff, made in factories which doesn’t interest me at all….I don’t want to make the stuff everyone else has anyway, and I crave authenticity!
I seem to have a sixth sense about how a certain look will evolve and I’m often surprised how an unusual look I’m really ‘in to’ suddenly becomes mainstream seasons later.
I keep an eye on the latest collections, and I appreciate the highly developed skills that are required to realize them, but really it doesn’t influence me much on a conscious level. I like doing my own thing!
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
Take risks and don’t wait…..Don’t wait until you are thin enough, sure enough or dare I say old enough to wear what you want! Everyone loves an outrageous granny, but why wait until you’re old?
Wear what expresses what’s within, and you’ll find a look that’s unique to you and becomes another dimension of your personality…..
What you wear a visual conversation you have with the outside world, so make it an interesting one!
Dressing in a way that’s true to yourself can only lead to more rewarding, authentic encounters and will give confidence that your real, dynamic self is shining thru.
Just like all those actors I used to make costumes for, you can also use your clothes to develop aspects of your character that may be hidden and you wish to embrace more…..So start dressing the part, and it will become you!
What are your plans for your business and how do you see it develop over the coming years?
I love creating and actually making clothes (beautifully) myself….the fun would go out of it for me if I handed production over to a factory. I love making one-of-a-kind and I’m a perfectionist! Quality inside and out is Madame Hall’s point of difference, and something I won’t sacrifice by going down the path of mass production.
Creating unique, one of a kind and unrepeatable clothes is where I get my kicks!….But, there is only so much my 2 assistants and I can do in a day, so therefore my aim is to increase awareness of the beauty and vital energy you get from wearing real, handmade clothes.
I love the communication I have with like-minded women who appreciate the thought and consideration I invest in each and every garment.
Making women of all ages, shapes and sizes feel exotic, feminine and individual gives me great satisfaction….and I’m looking forward to more lovely online friendships with free-spirited women who don’t mind being noticed wearing a one-off by Madame Hall!
Anything further you would like to add?
Investment dressing does not need to be a closet full of black pants and neutral tones. Colour makes life better!
Which of Lisa’s outfits is your favorite?
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