Designer now calls India home
Lisa Hall of @madamehall fame, who now lives and works in Bhuj India, sells online through etsy (online artisan store) and maintains a lifestyle few of us could imagine.
Her love of local Gujarati textiles, artisans and craft techniques has seen her establish a life and small fashion business in this western Indian village.
Lisa is an Adelaide girl who started dressmaking at 15 and worked in the local theatre scene for several years.
A move to Sydney to work as costume designer for the Sydney Theatre Company and various productions for Fox Studios introduced her to the Australian celebrity acting scene (read Cate Blanchett) and honed her skills to work with, and design, an array of beautiful textiles that needed to fit various bodies and shapes.
Armed with this love of textiles, her travels took her to Gujarat India several times in 2012. “I fell in love with the colour and the amount of diversity in textiles and craft,” she says. “But because I had cats at home I had to seriously consider how to move here with them.” Having worked that out, Lisa moved to Bhuj with cats in tow, and is now on a business visa allowing a longer-term stay.
Her tiny studio set-up in the middle of the local markets has allowed her to embrace the local scene and work with local artisans and villagers.
“Several of the local older Jat (tribal) ladies often come in with vintage pieces,” she said.
These are used in her eclectic designs that mix vintage and newly-printed fabrics in one-off, unique outfits.
Her patternmaker Dipu, whose father was a tailor, is an integral part of the Madame Hall business.
“I just came across his shop (in Bhuj) one day and ended up working with him,” she says.
“Dipu has excellent taste and I have excellent taste. Every piece we make is seriously considered. We discuss the pieces and how to combine them.”
Lisa also gives credit to her other studio employees Sandeep and Magan who she credits as being integral to her business. And Ramjan her driver and courier, who as well as being in charge of the stray dogs and cats she feeds, gets a rap for his loyalty and support.
The Madame Hall pieces are all unique and special. Lisa believes that because she has come from the theatre rather than fashion, her pieces have longevity.
Her inclusion of vintage textiles in some pieces add a story as well as a one-off selling point many designers strive for.
She also creates styles and silhouettes that are flattering and yet fit a myriad of body shapes. From voluminous skirts to vintage textile bodices in dresses, Lisa designs pieces that are forgiving in fit yet stylish and contemporary in silhouette.
This is good news for any Baby Boomer and allows her to sell internationally. Her customers include Americans, English, Europeans and Australians.
To buy one of these masterpieces, however, you must be quick. One of Lisa’s loyal customers, Dolores from Los Angeles who I met on my travels to Bhuj, says she often has to set her alarm to check the etsy site before someone from another country nabs a Madame Hall outfit while she’s asleep.