Guest Curator

Australian Designer Lisa Gorman Talks Art, Fashion, and How She Marries the Two

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Lisa Gorman, founder of gorman clothing, as part of our ongoing Guest Curator Series. In time for Gorman’s “Love is Love” campaign launch, Lisa took a moment to talk about the role art plays in her life, her personal style (doesn’t over-analyze it), what advice she has for artists, etc… Plus, see a selection of some of her favorite works on Saatchi Art

Lisa Gorman launched her eponymous label, gorman, in 1999 at fledgling boutique fat52 in Fitzroy, Melbourne, with a collection titled “Less Than 12 Degrees.” The instant success of that first offering was the beginning of something special, and in the years that have followed the gorman label has become an iconic part of the Australian fashion landscape, introducing an organic selection in 2007 as well.

A bad something is better than nothing in the course of an artist’s life, because it means you can create a better version next time.

What was the first piece of art you bought?

I bought 3 pieces of Australian artist Rhys Lee’s work at one of his first shows in Melbourne in 2000. Niave, abstract figures in yellow and pastel colors on plywood

How would you describe your taste in art? What are you most drawn to?

I like folk art, both traditional and modern.  I’m very much drawn to color, texture, ethnic tones, and cultural references in art. I love linen and one of my favorite pieces is an abstract Rhys Lee (who I kept collecting), using brightly colored synthetic paint on stretched raw oatmeal linen. I love hot pink, I like human forms; I enjoy simplicity and naivety in art.

What role does art play in your life?

It plays a few roles.

In my home it provides texture, interest, layers of different times, and places. I’m quite comfortable with a mash of artwork across genres and styles in the one space; I don’t mind a full space if it’s full of good things. I suppose a person’s collection of art goes towards explaining a bit more about themselves. It’s another view of your personality, I think. In my work, art shapes my collections and has been the essence of the gorman clothing label for the last decade. I collaborate with artists from around the world on 4 capsule collections a year. Over the course of the year, I will create a collection with an up and coming artist, an established artist, an institution or public space, such as a gallery, and also undertake a social justice collaboration. The purpose for collaborating with a variety of artists in different capacities is to keep the collections fresh and the label interesting to our market, and celebrate the artist with who we are working.  Keeps it interesting for everyone involved, really.

I suppose a person’s collection of art goes towards explaining a bit more about themselves. It’s another view of your personality.

What do you collect?

I have pieces from Boris Bucan, Mirka Mora, Rhys Lee, Marion Drew, Geoff Nees, Dani Marti, Mitjili Naparoula.

How would you describe your personal style?

Probably more on the lighter, colorful, practical side of life I think, fairly clean and fresh but not minimalistic. Definitely not too serious…. you’d usually find me a jeans and trainers most days of the week. My personal style is not overly complexed really, it’s just there. I don’t analyze it too much.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, which would it be and why?

That’s tricky. Probably my Mirka Mora angel painting. I was fortunate to have worked with Mirka on a clothing collaboration for my label Gorman last year. She is such an incredible, fabulous, and inspiring woman that I’m now constantly reminded of her and her gorgeousness every time I look at that piece of art.

Which artists would you most like to meet?

Charles Fager (French photographer), Ken Done (Australian painter whose work I’ve loved since I was growing up in the 80s and have been very inspired by over the decades), Mark Rothko (but that’s obviously not going to happen), Sheila Hicks (who makes textile art, who I actually did meet by chance at her show in Palais de Tokyo), James Turrell, Liela Jefferies.

Which books are on your bedside table?

The last in this particular series of four Elena Farrante’s books, The Story of the Lost Child… It’s taken me a year, but I’m onto the last chapter.

What music are you currently listening to?

I’m a bit lazy with music I must say. Currently, I’m listening to the apple music playlist “Under the Stars.” I’ve been listening to Nick Caves “Skeleton Tree” quite a bit too.

Do you have a favorite museum or gallery?

MONA in Hobart, Tasmania. David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New is a private gallery showing a collection that has raised eyebrows for many a reason. Not only is it an architectural feat, the contents are fascinating and the collections change. I do love the Musee De Piccasso and that one special little room just for the weeping woman. As far classic museums go, my favorite by far is the Paleontology Museum in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris. More biological history than artistic I suppose, but it’s an insane space.

I would like to bring back that same pencil-case rewarding feeling in a generation that aren’t as exposed to sewing.

If you could give one piece of advice to young artists, what would it be?

Don’t sit around thinking about it for too long…get productive. A bad something is better than nothing in the course of an artist’s life, because it means you can create a better version next time.

What would you like to do if you weren’t pursuing your current line of work?

Ceramics. I’ve done a little bit in the past, but I could do a lot more. I would also like to teach sewing and textiles to school kids. I recently bought some sewing machines for our local primary school, and I pass down the fabric swatches in our crazy prints – which they love. I’m getting them onto a pencil case program, where each child in the school will make their own pencil case before they finish grade six. I remember making my own pencil case at eight years of age with some lilac lurex polyester that my neighbor gave me (she’d saved it from the 70s), and what a legend I thought I was! I would like to bring back that same pencil-case rewarding feeling in a generation that aren’t as exposed to sewing.

What projects are you currently working on? Where can we next see your work?

I’m currently working on 4 different collaborative collections, from the early concept stages through to campaign shoots. My next collaboration is with a print artist from Barcelona, who will be announced late September.  The collection will be available in our new LA-based store from 1st October, as well as our Australian and New Zealand stores, and gorman online. Following that, I’m working with a younger local Sydney based artist to launch January 2018. I have two other U.S. based artist collaborations in development, which we’ll be talking more about as we venture down 2018.

A side project I have on the go is a collab with Moooi, Marcel Wander’s Dutch design company. Very early days, very exciting though because I love his knot chair more than any other chair.


in august 2017, the australian government announced they would be holding a plebiscite to decide on what the country thought of marriage equality. in support of the yes ✔️ vote and making sure every opinion is counted we’ve decided to distribute 5,000 love is love t-shirts featuring artwork by @monika_forsberg for ✨free✨ to spread the word. the t-shirt will be available in limited quantities in every gorman store in australia from tomorrow, friday 25th august. to add a bit more incentive, we are asking each person that would like a free t-shirt to show a screenshot of their verified enrolment details. enrolments close tonight at midnight. head to to check you’ve enrolled. be on the right side of change 🌈#showusyourgorman #loveislove #voteyes #marriageequality

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All images c/o Lisa Gorman.

About the Author

Chelsea is the Marketing Associate at Saatchi Art. She likes Neoclassical art, text messaging, and that's pretty much it. Find her Tweeting @saatchiart, and Instagramming @saatchiart