You Have To See This Fashion Designer's Stunning Home And Studio
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the luxurious home and studio of designer Lillian Khallouf. Did you see Rebecca Harding at the Logies in a slinky, feathered gown? That was the meticulous handiwork of Lillian Khallouf, who sits at the helm of her eponymous atelier known for its intricate, elegant bridalwear and sharply tailored, bespoke confections. Unsurprisingly, her interior style is as distinctive as her designs—there are gold accents and old Hollywood touches. It’s a restrained and thoroughly modern take on maximialism, mixing bold colours with timeless shapes and statements. Here, we sit down with Khallouf to talk about her creative process, switching off, and why sleep matters so much to her.
There are two sides to Lillian Khallouf. You’ll find one in her soaring studio space, where she pins frocks, sketches designs and dreams up the high-fashion looks beloved by women across Australia. Then, at home, Khallouf rests, retreats and recharges, enabling her to keep things fresh and fashion forward. (Even on those relentless 18 hour days.) Here, surrounded by antique furniture, family heirlooms and designer vintage wares, is where Khallouf switches off. Still, both spaces exude her aesthetic. Oversized mirrors and rich, emerald velvet punctuate her workspace, while her home incorporates the same hints of old-world opulence. Mid-century modern sideboards and burnished-gold pieces line her home, which provides great context for Khallouf’s inimitable style.
Hi Lillian! This series is called The Makers. What is it you make?
I make timeless bridal and womenswear for the modern woman’s wardrobe, made at a slow pace with a mindful footprint.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I’m a natural creative, therefore my designs allow me to express my mood and thoughts. I consciously work around my values and ethics when it comes to the process, how [the garments are] perceived and connect to the wearer. The LK woman is intelligent and sophisticated so it pleases me to deliver her needs.
What was the impetus behind launching your eponymous label? What gave you the motivation to start?
I spent my childhood in my parents' clothing manufacturing business, which is where I found the love for design. That then led me to fashion. My motivation came from the need to make beautiful and memorable moments... no-one ever forgets the best dressed woman in the room!
Talk us through your design process. How do you keep things fresh in the ever-evolving world of fashion and bridal-wear?
Design comes naturally to me, I’m very much inspired by my own wardrobe and the ever changing lifestyle of a woman. We’ve come a long way as women, our daily routines have changed and therefore our style needs have evolved, too. We are more conscious and concerned about investing in wearable pieces made well that are effortlessly styled. I try my best to design with a mindful footprint working at a slow pace. I’m all about quality over quantity.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your business?
Instinct is the first thing that comes to mind. Trust your gut, I believe its signs from the universe guiding me. Whether I’m making a sale or negotiating a business deal, I feel the outcome based on the energy I experience in the present moment. It’s taken me years of practice.
But the reality of it is simple: believe in yourself. Without doing so I couldn’t have built trust with my brides and clients over the last 14 years.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started?
Becoming my own boss at 19 fresh out of college and learning how to manage and delegate people 20 years plus my senior. It’s one thing to be a designer but it’s another being a boss. It comes with a lot of patience and when it comes to respect, it’s the one thing you can’t pay for—it’s earned.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their own business and go out on their own?
Be patient, all good things come to those who work for it. Fashion is a tricky business, there are many falls before you. But it’s so rewarding and so worth all the falls. In hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing but I would advise anyone who wants to start a business to work alongside someone they aspire to be like or follow in their footsteps. Experience comes a long way.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since launching? Do you have a favourite design or a pinch-me moment?
Dressing Australian model Jennifer Hawkins. It was 3 months after the first rebranding of Lillian Khallouf in 2016... I was so excited to receive a copy of InStyle magazine and feeling so honoured to have her wearing my sheer white couture gown from my first ever LK Bridal collection.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
I live with my parents in Illawong Sydney. They built this house almost 2 years ago. I had been living out of home since I was 21, so it was nice to come back to a new home. My parents where kind enough to let my sister and I design our rooms, so we strategically designed a walk in wardrobe we could share and access separately. We also included a basin and shoe wardrobe.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I wanted it to reflect my personality and style. It features minimal furniture with quirky accents like the retro mirror and colourful artwork. My wardrobe and shoe collection take up a huge part of it—but what else would you imagine a fashion designers' room to have!
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
My favourite piece is an original Gianni Versace silk print in my room. I found the print when I bought my fabric store in Leichhardt and got it framed. It has so much life, I can’t help but feel inspired when I look at it.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
Absolutely, I’m heading to Morocco and Paris in October so I’m hoping to come back with a rug and some treasures.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
It would have to be my bedroom. My bedroom is my cave. I barely leave it once I’m home. I hang with my dogs, read, listen to music, catch up on emails, social media and on Sunday’s I like to spare some time to binge on Netflix!
Do you have any hacks you swear by to guarantee a good night’s sleep after a long day?
Nothing beats a hot shower before bed.
Nothing means more to me than sleep time. It’s the only time you see me still. I lead such a busy and full lifestyle. So as soon as I hit the pillow I’m out until I’m up again at 5am!
What is your favourite local hotspot?
My new favourite local is Brighter Coffee in Stanmore, the coffee is great, I’m there every morning at 6:30am for my morning fix.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I sure do! I’m opening my first flagship boutique hosting my ready to wear pieces at the iconic Intersection in Paddington. I remember [when the Intersection] opened, dreaming that one day I’d have my own boutique alongside all the other Australian fashion designers. Look where we are today! Please come and visit me there in September this year, I’d love to show you the space.
For more from Lillian, follow her @lilliankhalloufpersonal and @lilliankhallouf.
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