I’m mostly known for being too straight forward

It was written the year 2009, when a 16 years old German-Bosnian love-child graduated at ESMOD and got an offer to do an internship in France, Theater in Montlucon, then continuing in the atelier with that time emerging designer Damir Doma, to end the experience with Anne Valerie Hash. This young woman, obsessed by Constantin Brancusi and Faye Toogood works, Kusturica´s folk, Jarumsh vision, Flako, Sohn and Omar Suleyman sound and the message from “Natalie ou l'adieu au silence”, preffers as many artists to create durning the nigt, because she likes to point out that the day gives her too many distractions. Superficial and judgemental people made her aesthethic view even stronger, composed by a spontaneous and honest design, as how she is. So, it´s not strange then when she frankly says, that she finds Nordic women more interesting than French, that the “I just woke up like this” is just a myth, that collaborating with artisans is not that glamorous as it sounds and no one this days make original aesthetic but a reproduction of the past. Unconsciously. Some less, some more. Now at just twenty something, Lissa, as friends call her finds that “less is true more”; but only in design terms. Her energy-creative lever couldn´t be higher in the last period. She is close to expand her brand Atelier Alisa Beširević by launching the ready-to-wear collection, jewellery, furniture, pottery and even household linen. This is a proof that talent mixed with hard work makes everything possible. The sky is the limit.

- How Alisa would introduce Alisa?
Some other girl who thinks she will change the world one day – duh!

- What ́s your nickname?
Lissa, Lissica.

- What is your current state of mind?
You better don’t ask. I want to create a whole world of my own, where you can eat, sleep, live, dance, dress in a world created by me. To be more clear, I don’t only do RTW – I will design furniture, objects, household linen – and even plan to make music.

- What is your motto?
I don’t have a motto, but I like to live in love and respect with people and the environment.

- What is your obsession?
There are too many, I am a total freak in that category.
Right now I am compulsively collecting images of metals and mirrored objects in nature, Brancusi, Patrick Leblanc’s vertical gardens, Faye Toogood, Charlie Engman’s work and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. I had a really hard time summing this up (laugh).

- Your last dream (during sleeping)?
The last one I can remember is a nightmare I had, I was hunted by a serial killer, and I am running through familiar buildings and caves, fields and forests, grabbing every stone and wall I can, to get more speed. I was so scared!

- What is your best quality and what is your biggest weakness?
My best and weakest quality is my sensitivity and honesty.

- In what occasion do you lie?
I rarely lie, I’m mostly known for being too straight forward.

- Which talent would you most like to have?
I always wished I was a born genius, math, music, painting, dance, and singing genius.

- What would you change about yourself?
I should be less hard on myself.

- Best and worst memory?
Best memory: The birth of my little brother, worst memory: My sister’s phone call about my uncle’s death.

- Favorite blogs?
http://schuhtutehemd.com/ , http://archive-club.tumblr.com/ , http://kimberlitecore.tumblr.com/    to name only a few, there are way too many.

- Top 3 magazines?
- Your Top 5 essentials?
My Molecule 02 Perfume and… I just realized I’m such a dude. I can live with nothing but water and fresh air.

- What is your personal style and who do you mostly wear?
I mostly select my clothes relying on my morphology, as I’m tall I like to wear long coats, tops, dresses, and skirts. I mostly use the same proportions, very long or short top, I never cut my silhouette at the waist line. I mostly wear vintage, Acne and Margiela mixed with some mass market brands like MTWTFSS Weekday.

- Which smell remembers you your childhood?
Freshly cut grass, I spent all my childhood in a huge private park, I love that smell.

- As a child what you thought you will become when growing up?
I wanted to become a psychiatrist for a very long time.

- Could you please tell us about your life story in a distance Bosnia-Germany-France (Paris).
My parents are immigrants from Bosnia. I was born in Germany, but spent all my summer holidays in our house in Bosnia. I was very good at school and enjoyed learning languages. At 16 my school offered me to do an internship in France, which I did – as the director’s assistant of the Theater in Montlucon. I fell in love with French language and culture and knew I wanted to move to Paris from that moment on. As soon as I turned 19, after graduating, I moved to Paris and started studying fashion design.

- When you became conscious of your talent? It ́s something you got from a little? Or you developed your potential through years and practice?
I was always very good at drawing, painting and sculpting; I secretly hoped to become an artist but never dared to push it further. My talent was very celebrated in my family and school, they used to expose my work in the “teacher’s corridor” which was quite an achievement when we were kids (laugh).
I guess I went for fashion to please my parents, as it came closest to art and one could make a living out of it. It was a compromise. My mom is beautiful and dressed really well. She is blond with blue eyes, I remember her in those oversized, Calvin Klein like, camel colored coats, high waisted jeans and turtle neck sweaters. I think observing and admiring her as a kid taught my eye about style and proportions. But I come from a very small town in Germany, and for me fashion was Chanel and Lacroix, I had no fashion culture. Internet was very new, slow and expensive when I was a teenager, so all I could find about fashion was the fashion week reports on Euronews Channel and some Magazines.

- You did internship at Damir Doma and worked for Anne Valerie Hash. Could you describe these experiences and how these experiences influenced on your future work and aesthetic?
Damir used to make only menswear when I interned, but working there was like Disneyland. All the fabrics, amazing protos and books laying around which really spoke to me, it was a good time working in an environment and surrounded by people who shared the same aesthetic as me. It just made me feel more confident about the directions I was going to take in the future, but unfortunately I didn’t see much of the designing process as Damir was designing the collection in Germany next to his mother who is a tailor.  Working next to Anne Valerie had probably the biggest impact on me, because we were working really close to her. It was a beautiful time, as all my colleagues became very close friends; we had such a great team and ambiance going on. Designing for her really got under my skin, and for a long time I couldn’t get this flowy, twisted style out of my hand – I must admit her world is much sweeter and softer than mine, so after I left the company I pretty much went back to my masculine, experimental habits. But both experiences gave me a big fascination for fabrics and cut, as both really spent a lot of time looking for the perfect fabric and the perfect fit.

- What do you think of the fashion system?
I would like to create my own system, but no one is messing with mother fashion week.

- Top 3 designers?
Margiela, always and for ever, Bless and Acne

- What the word freedom means to you?
Luxury. Freedom is a luxury.

- What inspires you when you are creating a new design? How much did influence your heritage mixed with a city where you live now, Paris?
I do like to do research 24h/day, but when it comes to designing I am more of a spontaneous person.  Using a mood board just stresses me out; there is just too much which inspires me. I start designing one thing and will end up somewhere else; I embrace a fabric’s personality and listen to what it says. I like to start sawing in a very raw way and refine it little by little. I like to make mistakes and use them.
Paris has influenced me in the trendy fashion way, but I don’t consider that as a blessing. I realized Paris does not represent my sense of style, which is actually why I’m moving away soon. Parisians are very polished even if they’re playing the “I just woke up like this” girl, it is actually very controlled and they put a lot of effort in it. I feel closer to the Nordic style, women are taller, proportions longer, cooler, more effortless. I like relaxed silhouettes as you can see them in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki.

- In generally inspirations come in any possible time, situation and place. How you capture/note it?
I always have a notebook with me where I do sketches like a five year old or I write them down on my i-Phone.

- Part of creation process are also days filled with creative holes; when the idea is not yet here or maybe somewhere in the middle. How you deal with it?
I go out and have fun with my friends, there is nothing more inspiring than living good moments in life. Once you shut down your brain and stimulate it with something else, creativity will come back to you.

- How much does intuition play a part in the way you work?
It actually is what I described earlier; it is basically my favorite tool. I listen to my guts when I design that’s when my work is the most authentic.

- Best movie, track, album, exhibition or event?
This is too much to ask for an all over junky like me but I generally love movies by Lynch, Kusturica, Jarmush, Anderson and the Coen Brothers. But I particularly like documentaries, as “Natalie ou l’adieu au silence”, “Whateverest”, about Lucian Freud, or about Carl Gustav Jung.  Music: Right now I listen a lot to Flako, Sohn, Omar Suleyman and believe it or not, since the Henrik Vibskov Party I listen to old albums by Craig David. Best exhibition I’ve went to was Lucian Freud, I actually started crying in front of his gigantic, fleshy paintings. What a  beautiful talent he was.

- You established your brand recently. What was the turning point to make you to take a decision to establish your own brand? It was your plan (dream) from the beginning? Describe, please, the process of making your brand. How to start, especially if you maybe don ́t have a strong financial background? You do everything on your own (instincts)?
Establishing my brand was my first wish after graduating from fashion school. I got pretty much disillusioned when I started working for young designers as Damir Doma, as I saw how much time, power and money he had to invest to keep his head outside the water. At Anne Valerie Hash’s I discovered what it is, to keep up with yourself and your former success. It can quickly become a heavy weight, to keep your success, because the pressure is a creative killer and thinking about what a buyer wants, can just suck all the pleasure out of you. So I somehow got demotivated about doing my own brand. Once I worked for commercial brands which basically made their living on copying other brands, I fell into a depression and questioned my role in the fashion world. I had a sabbatical break and reconnected with myself. I started designing a wallet and bags for myself, as I couldn’t find what I wanted on the market –that’s how it all started. My friends liked it, so I made bags for them, and then friends of friends started being interested until I finally got even contacted by buyers. I didn’t plan it, it just happened to me.
Now I’m dealing with the construction of my company. I could give a few advises: Do not create too many products, just focus on a few products to begin with, as too much offer kills the offer and when you deal with small quantities, you better focus on few styles and more orders than the other way around.
Also, get yourself an accountant, he’ll take care of taxes, the state of your brand name etc. it will be easier, so you can focus on designing and selling. You might also want to work with a showroom/press office, it can accelerate your success but it presumes that you can invest some money which is not my case.
My way is moving to Berlin, as space is a luxury in Paris which really stands in my way. I found a sweet factory in France for production and do my own photos and website. I have recently found some photographers I’ll probably try some collaborations with, as I can’t take care of everything on long term.

- What makes your brand, aesthetic unique?
I don’t have the pretention to say my aesthetic is unique, I am realistic. We all reproduce the past unconsciously; some are just more literal than others. The only thing I can say is that I don’t care about how wearable what is, I don’t think about risks. I just take them and I never stop researching, going to exhibitions, watching movies etc.

- How would you describe your aesthetic as a designer?
I don’t take my work too seriously which I think reflects in my designs. My aesthetic is relaxed, a bit bizarre and sophisticated.

- Could you please describe your work process (the process of building one collection)? And what is the best and the worst part of your work process? Do you have any person, muse that inspires you while making a collection? Is there any ritual?
I am a night bird. I work the best when everyone’s asleep. The daylight makes me want to go out and do things, I can’t find a peace of mind. Seeing people active in the streets just distracts me, probably because my apartment has a glass doors which is just like a gigantic live TV. I need to be alone, focused on myself so I can use my instinct and my feelings as a source. My designs are very personal, they are meant to be worn by people who develop that personal attachment when they see my designs. It’s like speaking the same language, across clothes. Not everybody will understand what I’m saying, not everyone speaks that language. But the ones who do will immediately feel this connection and maybe a little less lonely and weird.  These people are my muse, and when we see each other in the street we smile and nod our heads, haha. It’s like a community.

- Who you imagine is your customer and how much influence on your vision and creation has your customer?
People who like my designs are surprisingly much more polished and trendy than I am!! Hahahah!! The shops who are interested in my designs run brands like Margiela, Acne, Jil Sander, Christopher Kane etc which is very flattering. But this being said, I do not design for anyone but my own satisfaction. As long as I feel there is something wrong and missing about a bag for example, I won’t put it on the market until it has the package I need – functionality, balanced proportion and the effortlessness.
I study a lot people’s way of using bags and clothes, how they pull a zipper, open a pocket, hold a handle etc and it is mostly one of the strongest influences on my designs.

- The importance of lasting/durability in sense of quality and design. How is important for you that your pieces and the design lasts and it ́s not just a season-trend thing?
I think there are some things you can work on, but others that you can’t influence. For example, prints are very seasonal for me. They remind me of a certain collection and will very certainly not be worn anymore when the season is over. But this is very specific, after all, again, you can’t fight mother fashion week. As long as there will be a cruise, pre and main collection twice a year, plus the couture for some, how can a design survive on that? What is it, which makes a product timeless? I would say, the quality of the fabric (after washing and use) and the simplicity and beauty of a design. If you put bows and chains and studs or whatever it will quickly refer to a “trend” and pretty much die after a couple of seasons. That’s why I believe that less is more and that my designs are simple, hoping people will feel like using them over years again and again. The leathers, threads and tanning I use are specifically chosen to last and just look more beautiful when they get used.

- Your pieces are gender free. It ́s really fascinating your brand statement, that “constantly trying to push the social tolerance and make people have a closer look at something they would judge curious or even repulsive, hoping this way they will discover the beauty and fragility of the “ugly”. Tell me more about it. How does your work, your products reflect on social issues?
It basically comes from my own experience; I have been that person, people would have judged hardly on its look and not even bother to approach. That has left its marks, in my projects I embrace this experience and use this difference as my strength. I can’t precisely name what it is, how it reflects in my work, but I know that whatever I do it follows me. It will be in the kind of model I will chose (SS15 girl is not a model, she has curves and a very natural and unusual beauty), the location, the photographer. For example, I’d really like to work with Charlie Engman and put my bags in his mother’s hands, standing there, naked, with a men’s jacket on the shoulders, in the woods. She has that beauty of a woman who has carried a child, who has lived a life that has left marks on her face. Her skin is a typical ginger freckled type, red hair, bright eyes. She has nothing of a skinny model, but she has that magic girls would pay for. She is reality, she is what we really look like, she stands for the people we see every day and we love. This is my major guideline and that’s how I want to sell fashion. By all the respect I carry for today’s models, of course they are real people and we love them too, and they do a freaking hard job.

- Tell me about your collection #001.
It is a composition of things I believe a girl/boy should have in her/his closet. Like the little black dress but in bag version. Classics with an unconventional twist of course.

- Your products are all handmade and produced in France. Could you describe what kind of materials and techniques you use while making a new piece? Do you re-elaborate (upgrade) materials?
All my protos are made by myself. I use leathers and materials bought here in Paris or in Portugal. I do upgrade materials, I actually ask for too much most of the time haha. I love to find new techniques but working with factories is much less glamorous as people imagine, designers don’t talk about it enough btw! You mostly deal with old artisans who live in a small town and have nothing to do with fashion, the only thing they do is craftsmanship. Some of them of course do have big fancy factories, but these mostly work only with the big fish. Trying to make them work differently than they are used to mostly is a problem, and it is a long, long way until you get what you want, one must earn it. A lot of e-mails and trips involved, back and forth shipping and so on. But there is nothing like a person who is passionate about its work that is where I mostly find a way of communication.

- I read somewhere that you collaborate with different artists too and together you make a new design, product. Do they contact you or vice-versa? How two energies find each other and then start to collaborate?
I have mostly picked the people I wanted to collaborate with myself, until I have recently been consulted for some new projects which was a real pleasure. I have a very precise idea of what I want to express, so I really take care of it and do not just involve anyone in my work. I contact people who inspire me, hoping they would accept to collaborate with me and bring this whole thing to another level.
I like to work with people; it actually drives me insane working alone on long term. I think there is nothing more beautiful than exchanging on a subject with someone who gets you and at the same time will bring you a different point of view. Getting a different point of view – oh, people in the fashion world don’t talk enough to each other, they are such divas. I am always happy when I meet a fella who is relaxed and doesn’t take him/herself too seriously; there are not enough people of that kind around.

- I ́ve heard that you have a plan to expand your brand by adding a clothing part to you brand. How is that? (tell me more about it)
Yes and there’ll be a lot more soon. I’m working on RTW, jewelry, furniture, pottery etc…

- Nowadays we are deep in the social networks, all technology stuff and first-look impact. How is this important to you for your brand? It helps you from a promotion/let-to-know-you side? How do you generally promote your brand and what you should do more?
As a good friend of mine recently said “Being famous on Instagram is like being a millionaire on monopoly”. Of course I use the social networks to promote my brand but I don’t take all this too seriously. When you’ve worked in retail you will understand that it’s not 20 year old Tiffany from Houston, Texas, who runs a blog about pastel colors and minimalism that will buy your bag. People who have the money to buy bags for 600-700€ still do it the old fashion way, they go to the shop. Or a big online shop, where they won’t have to be worried their AmEx will be cracked. They don’t care if you have 30 or 3000 followers on FB or Instagram. Nevertheless, it is a very good way to spread your designs on an international base, which actually has brought me 1 Chinese and 2 American shops wanting to buy my bags. Sometimes it also can give you a slight idea on a best seller.

- Beside the online shop in your main website, where we can find your brand? What are your plans on how to expand the brand?
Hopefully soon you’ll be able to buy my designs in several shops in China, New York and Paris. I am superstitious and prefer only releasing their names once things are signed sealed and delivered.

- What is next?
Next is, moving to Berlin, finding an atelier, buying all my tools and go for it.

- How do you see in your next 10 years?
I’d like to give a try in joining a company like Bless in order to surround myself with like minded people and parallel grow my label in order to hopefully make my living on it one day. 

/ Photos courtesy of Atelier Alisa Beširević, except the "Albinos" picture is by Gustavo Lacerda and the "Mother" by Charlie Engman./

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