Metal Magazine catchess up with Gonçalo Velosa, fashion collector and owner of the cutting edge vintage boutique House of Liza.
The first impression that you get when you come into the famous vintage shop House of Liza is not just a conventional boutique it is also the sense of a gallery. The space warehouse-looking designed by the owner Gonçalo Velosa in collaboration with industrial designer Torsten Neelan, is located in the area of East London and it has recently opened a new space due the intermediately success of the old space opened in 2011.
The gems that you can find in HOL are carefully selected by Gonçalo. Designer's archive as Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yohi Yamamoto,Comme Des Garçons,Versace and many more relics are beautifully displayed in the 80's house.
Since when have you been a fashion collector?
I have always had an interest in fashion. I have, since a very early age been attracted to a sense of aesthetics and, at times a very personal, provocative, yet self-confident style. This passion was honed in my teenage years when I was living in Paris during the height of the colourful Eighties. I fell in love with the theatricality of fashion and how you could express your personality or mood through clothes. This lead, a few years later after I moved to Porto, Portugal, to a series of collaborations with theatre companies developing costumes. My collection instinct was cemented during those years. I then went on to open a series of pop up guerrilla shops in Porto to fund my increasing obsession with collecting and displaying fashion pieces.
When did you decide to open a cult-vintage shop?
I always considered myself to be creative and thought that the best way to combine my creative urge with my passion for clothes was to enrol in a fashion design course. So a few years ago, after moving to London I decided to go back to University as a mature student and study fashion. For my own surprise, I soon realised that I was far more interested in the context behind certain pieces by very specific designers. The history and theory of fashion opened a whole new interpretation and understanding of some of my favourite designers. I became increasingly interested in possessing certain pieces as primary sources for my research. At the end of my course I had a reasonable vintage collection. As I come from a family of entrepreneurs opening my own shop was my only solution.
Did you ever think you were going to have this success?
I am a great believer that hard work and staying true to your vision always pays off. It is very important that you really belief in yourself and in what you are doing. So in this sense the success comes from the conviction of what we do.
You also sell in Fartech...
Yes we decided to have a platform on Fartech to reach a wider audience and people who share the same passion for our clothes but who don't necessarily live in London.
So what do you think HOL is so different in compare with the rest vintage shops?
There are a few good vintage shops around!
Maybe what is different is the set up! I have stripped down all the “vintage shop” concept, not just in terms of the personalised service but also in terms of the design of the actual shop and most important, how the clothes are displayed. The shop is “curated” almost as a gallery so the emphasis is on the clothes itself! And of course my collection is quite eclectic offering designers not easily found in London.
What sort of clientele do you have? And how is the buying process?
Our clientele is very varied, from the very sophisticated collector to the girl next door. The buying process takes most of my time. It is essential that I research every piece to make sure of its authenticity and quality. It sounds fun, but as I edit my selection a lot it can be quite tiring. I also travel a lot to source my clothes and have a close inspection.
What designer would you like to sell in HOL?
Yes, there are designers that I will always collect and hold dear, but recently I have started collecting Romeo Gigli and Cybilla, which you will see on the shop floor soon. I would love to sell Anne Marie Beretta, but unfortunately it is very difficult to get hold of her pieces. I do have a small private Beretta collection but would love to have more.
Apart of the size what other difference can we find in the Pearson St?
Pearson Street is a totally new approach to creating a striking, yet coherent and adaptable showroom and graphic identity. The interiors are a collaboration between myself and Product/Interior designer Torsten Neeland blurring the lines between an art gallery and a commercial showroom Due to the sheer scale of the venue we are also planning to launch a cultural programme. It also allows us, for the first time, to have all our archive and pieces on sale together.
There is a collector's room which you can only access by appointment...
Yes, a considerable amount of the pieces in our archive are not for sale, so it doesn't make sense to display them to the general public. Some pieces can be hired for fashion, film or theatre productions. Image makers and stylists are also known to hire some of our pieces.
Could you tell us one of your favourites pieces?
The Walter Van Beirendonk for W< (Wild & Lethal Trash) top that I am wearing in my portrait! It comes from the Spring/Summer 1996 progressive collection Killer / Astral Travel / 4D-Hi-D. With the use of technology and cyber-space (CD ROMS for example!), complex narratives and playing with real and virtual garments Walter Van Beirendonck initiated a new understanding of fashion! These collections for W.&.L.T. 1993-1199 expressed a crucial understanding of the future “now”!