Stage Designer Lena Quist
Lena Quist is a Swedish stage wear designer who is currently living in Berlin Germany. Lena has conquered the stage world by designing for the Eurovision Contest, Britain got Talent and ARROJO NYC’s hair shows in Europe and the US, among others. Her designs had appeared in different Fashion Magazines like Vogue Paris and she was nominated for an Etsy Award 2015.
When did you know you wanted to be a Stage wear designer?
Originally I just wanted to be a fashion designer. From the age of 14. The glamour of the red carpet, the fashion shows, and the glossy fashion magazines; I wanted to be a part of all that. When I started the brand back in 2006 glam rock was the big thing. It suited me perfectly. I loved the music and the over-the-top costumes and the fashion influenced by it. It was exactly what I wanted to create. From there it just came naturally that bands, and singers, in particular, started buying my designs to wear on stage. But it wasn’t until a few years ago I decided to let go of the fashion part of the brand and position myself a stage wear designer.
What’s it like being in the Stage wear industry?
It’s showbiz, so short deadlines are my everyday life. You have to be very flexible and creative on demand.
Tell us your experience in the Eurovision Contest
That was the first time I saw my designs on a major stage in front of millions of viewers. It was a great moment. The stress to finish 6 pieces of my most advanced design in a short time when it was almost completely new was a challenge, but seeing the dancers on stage made it totally worth it.
What is most important at the moment to design an outfit for a stage performance?
You have only a few seconds to make an impression on the audience, so the costume has to have that WOW-factor. The outfit is such an important part of the show. The right one will lift the performance to a whole new level. But a memorable look isn’t all; it also has to be comfortable and stay in place, so the artist won’t suffer a wardrobe malfunction.
How is the fashion industry in your home country?
Sweden’s got a good fashion scene, with many labels renowned worldwide. The Scandinavian style is very stylish and sleek. Very toned down. On the opposite side of the scale from me, haha.
What was your first job in the fashion industry?
I landed my first job as a fashion designer one week after graduating from fashion school. But it wasn’t set to start until 8 months later. During these 8 months, I started my own handmade brand to have an income, and I even managed to get a few retailers to carry it in their stores around Sweden. So when I received a call that another designer bought the label I was going to design for and they offered me a job – and in return expected me to close down my own brand – I declined the offer and went my own way. So I’ve never worked for another brand than my own.
Talk about the changes in your life since you’ve your own Brand.
To be honest I barely remember what my life was like without it. I was so young when I started; I had just turned 22, and I’m now 34. Following the dream of building this brand has been with me for the bigger part of my adult life, and even before I actually started I dreamed of it. But I can tell you this; when you start a brand with merely 200€ on your pocket and a dream you are going to experience what it feels like to be really poor. But I don’t regret starting when I did and how I did it.
How do you choose your inspiration?
I’m very impulsive with inspiration, it can come from anything at any time, and when it happens I just need to sketch to get all the ideas out on a paper. And later I will revisit them to see which ideas are worth taking to the next step in the process because I try to always stay in tune with the aesthetics of my brand. My customers expect a certain amount of futurism, glam rock, and sex appeal. But in my opinion, those things are like spices you can add to any concept to get that extra special flavor.
In one word: how would you define yourself as a designer?
What advice would you pass along to those starting in the Fashion Business?
Be persistent and stay true to yourself. Believe that you can do it, even when no-one else does. Never stop pushing your limits to evolve. And most importantly; you have to be obsessed with this job because hardship and suffering will be a part of the path. You will face rejection and as a solo entrepreneur you will at times be lonely, but if you are truly passionate about it you will get through those days/weeks/months when it feels like you just want to lay down and give up because you know that your dream is bigger than those feelings.
What was the inspiration for your last collection?
I gave up the collection thinking about 5 years ago. As a stage wear designer, I don’t need to follow the traditional fashion rules, so I have my Signature Line which I update around the year with new designs every now and then. It has given me greater creative freedom, I think.
However, I have been toying around with the idea of taking upon collections again to make more exclusive extravagant limited edition designs only available for a short period of time. I used to love telling a story with my collections and I miss that part, so it’s possible I will pick up on it again.
To know more about Lena, please visit: Lena Quist