Interview with Mish Vizesi

Tell us a little bit about your background in print design and the fashion industry?

 I've wanted to be a designer (or a dancer!) since I was tiny. After finishing school, I was lucky to get my foot in the door as an embroidery designer. I continued to work in the industry in various roles from production to patternmaking, while studying fashion and textiles at Ultimo TAFE, and then UTS. I particularly fell in love with the textile component of my degree- learning design and print processes from start to finish, and printing onto fabric myself.

Because I had decided to be vegan, those values limited where I was going to work after graduating. I didn't want to design with animal products, which ruled the luxury market out. Until fairly recently there were not really any positions in sustainable design, so I worked as a designer for middle market brands across womenswear, menswear and baby/ kids. For a long time, many fashion businesses and consumers didn’t yet see ethics, sustainability and diversity as pressing issues, it was an ongoing battle to make significant changes in these areas. I'm grateful that times have changed.

 I made the decision to freelance 6 years ago, and started Lovely People Studio in 2018. I really wanted to work with small, emerging businesses, who I knew were interested in combining beautiful design with responsible business practices. It is a privilege to work with brands like Peggy, who are doing just that. 

You developed some beautiful prints for Peggy Winter 2020, the dragonfly print has been a huge hit!  Can you tell us about the process you go through and what inspires you?

I grew up in a creative family. My Mum's side of the family are all talented crafters and makers who experimented with textures and fibres, unusual colour and fabric pairings. On my Dad's side of the family, my Grandma had worked in a silk factory and absolutely loved textiles. She rarely threw any of her clothes out, and over time turned the family garage into a designer's Aladdin's Cave of sorts (my Grandpa eventually gave in, and built a carport for the car.) 

When I was a teenager, she started to pass down her collection of clothing and textiles... 60's and 70's floral dresses and bedlinen, folk embroidery, traditional Hungarian textiles, boho Indian block printed dresses, 80's Laura Ashley style florals. I have been a keen collector of antique and vintage textiles since, my first business was an online vintage clothing shop! I still have a collection of favourites, and it influences the kind of prints that I do now. I absolutely love flowers, birds and flying creatures, so those are usually a focus for my prints, and sometimes it's a subject that myself or my kids have taken an interest in when we have been out on nature walks. I tend to draw pages and pages of motifs at a time, scan them in and then experiment with what works together in Photoshop. The dragonfly in your print, we had seen flying around our front yard one morning. It was a pleasure to draw her.

The fashion industry has gone through huge changes especially recently, which were of course overdue, how do you see it moving forward in the future from a sustainability perspective?

Public awareness and the subsequent pressure on brands to do better, has resulted in some pretty rapid developments in sustainability particularly over the last 5 or so years. But there are still many things we can improve on, and there is still much to learn. 

 I think we will see more innovation in the recycling of textiles, particularly for biodegradable fibres. More sustainable alternatives to recycled synthetics- which are a step in the right direction and preferable to virgin plastics, but unfortunately still contribute to microplastics pollution when washed. We will have more discussions about waste management, how brands can contribute to a circular economy in a practical way, how we can consider the full life cycle of the products we create from the concept/ design stage.

I also anticipate we will see more developments in bio-based textiles, and fabrics created from waste products. We now have fruit silks, vegan leathers created from wine waste, cacti, pineapples, mushrooms. Fabrics grown in labs from fermented waste and bacteria. There’s some exciting textiles emerging in this space, and I’m really looking forward to these becoming more accessible to small brands. 

What has been your favourite thing to do (or cook!) with your children during isolation?

Simple pleasures! We love doing craft and colouring in together, lots of play dough. I have a massive desk in my office that I restored from an old dining table a few years ago, it's been lovely to set them up with snacks and crafts while I work next to them. They've created some fabulous things that they are very proud of.

My kids have been really keen on cooking too. I have many fond memories of being in the kitchen for half the day every Sunday with my Grandma, cooking traditional Hungarian/ Yugoslav dishes with her. I’ve been teaching my kids how to make some of her recipes, they have enjoyed making sweet things. A lot of strudel. Pumpkin strudel seems to be the favourite :)