Q&A: Lislie Yeung & The Albino Collection

The designer has a dream resume. Chocked full of positions at DKNY, Sam Edelman, and Calvin Klein, Lislie Yeung is not short on experience. At one point, she was even the right hand lady for IOC’s Tara Subkoff. When the Parsons grad got accepted to the famed Cordwainer’s London School of Fashion for her MA in footwear, she knew joining the ranks of Jimmy Choo and Georgina Goodman would only help in launching her solo shoe career. Lislie’s Albino Collection, and final MA project, is a line to be reckoned with. Adorned in hand-dyed lace, carved heels and animal embossed prints, the pale line is anything but unassuming for a debut. Lislie talked to Lady Lux all the way from London, revealing how a night in front of CNN stirred an ongoing fascination with albinism and her future MA collection.

Lady Lux: You graduated as a clothing student from Parsons… How did you get into shoes?
Lislie Yeung: Yeah, I did clothing at Parsons and then I worked at DKNY for two years. Do you know Tara Subkoff? She used to be the designer for Imitation of Christ and when that fell through, she was asked to do a lot of collaborations with Easy Spirit. She did one for Bebe as well. I was working with her on the side doing that. That’s how I got into the shoe thing. After that happened, I wanted to start doing shoe stuff on the side so I found that Sam Edelman was looking for shoe sketching. So I applied for that and he offered me a full time job.

LL: Why do you call it the Albino Collection?
LY: So, we have 3-6 months time to do research and development. I was looking at CNN and they had something about the albino dolphin. I think it was in Louisiana. I just thought, oh my god…it just looked cool. It’s completely natural. It was pink and had blue eyes. It was a super interesting thing to google, so I just starting looking up albinism. I looked up humans and animals. Even if you google it now, you’ll see amazing animals that have no color. They’re just white. I loved the way that it was eerie and beautiful at the same time. I wanted to translate those reactions people have [to albinism] into the shoes.

LL: When you saw the albinism, did you know you were getting inspired for your collection?
LY: No, I was just looking it up because I had time. I’m always googling stuff anyways. I was just doing it for fun. Then I thought, “I should do this for my research.”

LL: Your shoes have amazing details. Can you tell us about them?
LY: So I chose to use lace. I’ve always been drawn to the material, something that is super delicate but still really strong and feminine. I based a lot of the materials around silks, leathers, and the lace. You know, albinism is when you’re missing the gene that produces color. So I played with sanding materials or bleach, and tried to get the color to fade a little.

LL: So the texture makes up for the lack of color.
LY: I played around with the loss of color and used tons of white textures. I used the python, the stingray…to create more depth but still limit the color range.

LL: Your shoes look very labor intensive. Do you make them yourself?
LY: To come to the school they required you to be able to make your own shoes. For the first two projects, we had to make them ourselves in school. Then for the final, I thought it would make more sense to hire someone who professionally does it. So I just worked with the factory I worked with before, when I worked at Sam’s, and they just did me a favor and made the final collection for me.

LL: Wow, that’s nice of them.
LY: When I come out to do my own thing in the future I would have someone make it anyway. I’m not really a maker. I’m more a designer.

LL: Well, making shoes seems hard… to say the least.
LY: Yeah, it’s crazy. I wouldn’t feel safe having people walking in my shoes (she laughs). I feel like it’s better to leave it to people who have done it for 30 years.

LL: Do you have a favorite pair in your collection? Or is that a taboo question?
LY: Ha, I guess. The lace pumps would be my favorite ones. I’m just a big fan of the lace. I can’t really pick just one… but they’ve also gotten the most positive feedback so it’s made me look at them in a different way.

LL: So you’ve lived all over. You grew up in Hong Kong, and went to school in London and New York. Which city is more inspirational?
LY: I think London is. I didn’t think that until I came here to get my MA. I always thought NY had a better energy. And it does. But in terms of what I’m trying to do, I think London is better. A lot of people here are creative and struggling. NY is creative in a more subtle way… Selling and all that is a lot more important to them. It’s a little slower here as people build their brand. They’re very true to themselves. Whereas NY is very fast, they’re very business minded.

LL: Where do you see your line going? Hitting stores?
LY: I definitely want to get in stores. I was at Brown’s shoe store this other day and they were stocking this new designer, they only had like 12 pairs. If it were a really cool store, I wouldn’t mind trying to get a few pairs done for them. In the long term, I’d like to be in Bergdorf’s, Barney’s, major stores… I’ve gotten good feedback and it’s nice to know that something you’ve been working on for over half a year is getting attention.

Lislie graduates from her program in July, in the meantime she works on her collection in London. Lady Lux looks forward to see where her love for lace and lack of color takes her.

Tagged in: lux exclusives, london, nyc, lace, jimmy choo, hong kong, sam edelman, calvin klein, lislie yeung, tara subkoff, cordwainer’s, albino dolphin, cnn, bebe, georgina goodman, imitation of christ, easy spirit, parsons, the albino collection,

Fashion / Features

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