When I was just a teen, about 13 years old. I was one of the rare few in my circle of friends who had an interest for all the designers who were trending and avidly followed high fashion. I would save up my allowance and visit sample sales, buying high heeled shoes that were more appropriate for someone twice my age. I would ask my dad to bring me the Herald Tribune fashion pages in the weekend and I would buy magazines when I had the chance, cutting out what inspired me most.
I also browsed through every closet in my house to see if I could find something to wear or be creative with. Especially my dads as I found there was something so effortless and chique about mens wear, I though it gave me the perfect chance to create unique silhouettes and play around making it my own. I went through the roof when I found out my, not so fashion conscious dad, had a Christian Dior shirt hanging in his closet from my late grandfather Theodore Liss. That of course my dad did not wear. I made it my own together with a couple of other shirts I knew were way too cool for my dear father and perfect for me.
I started wearing his shirts or vintage Levis that I would buy at second hand stores in Amsterdam or on the vintage Waterlooplein market. I would belt it and wear it as a dress or tie it in a knot and show my belly button.
I lost track of all his shirts except for one, the Christian Dior shirt. It has gone with me to New York City when I lived there in 2005. It stayed with me on all my holidays when I would wear it as a beach cover up. And when I was pregnant with my children I would wear it on top of a pair of leggings. It’s completely worn out as we speak, the collar has collapsed and looks more like a shirt from one of John Travolta’s costumes on Saturday Night Fever. But it is still in my closet or in the atelier in Istanbul I work with for Liss Classics.
Throughout my relationships I never stopped wearing mens wear. I didn’t buy it so much as borrow it from my partners closet.
When I stumbled across excess stock from high end must-haves like white Brioni, Borelli and Isaia shirts I grabbed my chance and bought as many as possible so I could sell them to my clients on my vintage platform Atelier Anna Liss. I introduced them to my view on menswear and told them the secret about me wearing mens T-shirts, shirts and sweaters all the time. Even though the new shirts I sourced were incredible, they were never exactly what I wanted. The shirts sold like crazy and I knew it was time to create the perfect one of my own and share it with the world.
As a mom of three, working hard towards complete independence, it felt right to start with one item and focus on quality instead of quantity. Something that has been a pattern throughout my life, something my parents definitely contributed to, is being happy with less but better instead of a lot and more. Maybe this is why I felt the need to walk away from women closets so much, because of all the distraction and unnecessary design added to it that was never consistent.
It never felt safe to depend on as in the next season it had to be totally different. I could however depend on menswear, being consistent in its fit and always of high quality (when I would borrow the ones from my partner or dad). I was never afraid of it being dull or that it would hide my femininity. I found it made it more about me,
and less about the garment. And isn’t fashion supposed to make me look good? And not the other way around?
I feel the boxier mens fit complements the female body in a way that blue makes orange and red makes green. It’s like the day that can't exist without the night and we all need darkness to discover the light within us.
Throughout my journey as a young woman, mom of three, divorcee and finding my way to complete independence in this patriarchal system, I have always believed in the power of female and male energy. And how the two need each other to exist and can work together really well when both parties are empowered, rooted in their own strength.
Unfortunately this is often not the case and a lot of women are still being disadvantaged, robbed from their strength and given poor opportunities. I have made it my mission that with everything I do I will give back. It’s my pride and pleasure to announce that I am working with a studio that helps women start a new life for themselves by providing them with a job and safe work space, away from the oppression of a patriarchal system that has to often attempted to suppress and control their strengths and creativity.
This shirt represents being in solidarity with women, it stands for the beauty of an equal connection between male and female energy and last but not least it’s made to focus more on you above anything else.