Photography and Interview by Jus Vun, Edited by Aisling O’Brien. Special thanks to Leonard Wong.
The model-cum-stylist gives a voice to upcoming avant-garde designers, interviewing like-minded creative people on her iconic website Le Report.
Lily began Le Report as a way of connecting with other creatives, peering into the lives and minds of fashion photographers, artists, models, designers and stylists like herself. Today her site stands as a repository of inspiration for like-minded people and for avant-garde artists who sit outside the boundaries of commercial fashion.
JV: Currently you’re based in Beijing. What’s your daily routine like?
LG: My children are quite young so my mornings are all about them. The rest of the day is usually communicating via email, Skype or WeChat with designers or media in general. I juggle a lot; exhibitions, fashion shows, in-store events, and on occasion fashion consulting for new labels.
Styling is basically spur of the moment, if I am invited and available for an editorial or personal styling. It’s ad hoc and unplanned.
JV: How do you unwind?
LG: Reading, having dinner with my friends, watching movies with my husband and kids. Recently, I’ve been riding my bicycle everywhere and exercising more. My family, pets, plants, and fashion projects can sometimes make demands of me all at the same time. If I’m overwhelmed I make sure to take time alone to meditate; it helps me step back from my crazy daily life and get back on track.
JV: Out of all the people you’ve interviewed who has been the most intriguing?
LG: I can’t pick a favorite. Interviewing has been an incredibly profound and moving process for me. I’ve found not only incredible artists but most importantly, friendships that will last a lifetime. Even in advance of the interview I can often sense and predict a connection, which is almost spiritual with my subjects. It’s because I so strongly believe in their dreams and their passion for fashion and art.
JV: Who would you like to interview the most that you haven’t?
LG: I would love to interview Ai Wei Wei, the Chinese contemporary artist. He’s active in film, sculpture, curating, installation, architecture, photography, and social, political and cultural criticism. He lives in Beijing, only 25 minutes from my apartment. I have two years to court him before we move to Paris. My other target is Japanese Fashion Designer Rei Kawakubo. I have endless admiration for her avant-garde pieces of art and dry humor. She has forever changed the face of fashion.
JV: You met Diane Pernet. Tell us about that.
LG: Diane is a legend – nobody can touch her. She has done it all, from fashion journalism, to film, to curating. She pioneered fashion blogging with A Shaded View on Fashion (ASVOF) in 2005.
It was an honor and a pleasure to interview her few months ago in Paris and get to know outside of the shows. I was charmed by her professionalism, knowledge, signature all-black-look, soft-voice, and impeccable manners. She is a role model and inspiration for so many people in the industry, including myself.
JV: You know the Yohji quote obviously, “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: I don't bother you, you don’t bother me.” What is your relationship with the color black?
LG: A lot of people ask me that question; they are very surprised with my answer. I grew up in the Dominican Republic, a tropical island where people wear very comfortable clothing, patterns, and light colors. But when I was young I was very uncomfortable wearing what was considered the norm in the tropics. I always felt like my mother was dressing me in Halloween costumes.
My grandfather, whom I was very close to, passed away when I was eleven. I found comfort in black during the year of mourning. It imbued me with confidence and protection; I felt like I was at home, in my second skin. My mother and father, both lawyers, wore black suits to the courtroom, and I saw them embody the power and swagger of black.
When I moved to New York City in my late teens, I saw an Asian man wearing all black Comme des Garcons; in that moment all of those formative influences crystalized. I’ve never looked back. To me, black is not rebellion, laziness, nor trend. Black is my soul. Black is an expression of the freedom grounding of my personal aesthetic.
JV: What has living in China for the past few years given you?
LG: It's hard to resist a country with 4,500 years of culture. China has some of the most iconic structures of the ancient world, (such as the Great Wall), fantastical landscapes (limestone karsts and rice terraces), and the most incredible architecture, (siheyuan courtyard homes in the hutong areas of Beijing) where you can still see original dynasty era furniture, jewelry and local residents. Outside in the countryside that rich legacy comes alive; when I go to the little towns I see people living as they did a hundred years ago. It gives fascinating insights into Chinese aesthetics and history. So many artists, architects, musicians, and designers have found inspiration in China.
JV: You will be moving to Paris due to your husband’s job within the next two years. What are your expectations there?
LG: Paris is a magnet for the fashion world, where haute couture started. For me, simply making my pilgrimage to the Paris shows twice a year can’t sate my appetite for its amazing culture, artistic feel, and creativity. Moving there will allow me to truly absorb and luxuriate in the culture, history, and dynamism of the city.
JV: Best and worst things about the fashion industry and what would you like to see.
LG: Best: New designers are taking great risks these days and putting aside the rampant commercialism of the industry and as a result incredible garments are being created. Computer generated prints, organic fabric dyes, innovative materials, and powerful collaborations are producing mind-blowing results.
Worst: Although fashion changes constantly, the negative elements remain the same. Commercialism, snobbery, grandiosity, and conservatism are still major problems in the industry.