Keith Lissner is Executive Vice President of Design at Vera Wang, where he oversees the design and creation of the bridal, Ready-to-Wear and licensed apparel collections with Vera for the iconic brand. Prior to his role at Vera Wang, Keith was the owner and founder of his own eponymous Ready-To-Wear brand and worked as a designer for Ralph Lauren.
Keith moved to London to study at London College of Fashion (LCF) in 1997, on the BTEC Fashion Diploma course. He recently spoke to us about his incredible career, and what advice he’d give to any current graduates wanting to work in the fashion industry.
What made you decide to come and study at LCF?
I was going to university in the U.S. when I decided to go into fashion. London has always been an epicentre for fashion education. A friend told me she was taking a semester to study at LCF and suggested I join her. Instead, I signed up for the BTEC program.
What do you think is the most important thing LCF taught you?
LCF taught me creative freedom. There is a freedom to British fashion that exists nowhere else.
As Executive Vice President of Design at Vera Wang, what does your average daily schedule look like?:
Vera has many different apparel brands at all levels of the market; from luxury to mass. I oversee all of them with Vera. Our day might range from working on a custom celebrity look to a couture level wedding gown, to a cool street-inspired t-shirt on the same day.
What advice would you give any new graduate wanting to work in the fashion industry?:
After graduating I recommend that you work for someone else and continue to learn the industry from the inside out while maintaining job security. Fashion is an extremely nuanced expensive undertaking and requires not only passion and talent, but hard work and constant spending.
What challenges do you sometimes face and how do you overcome them?:
Part of my job is to help Vera maintain the Vera Wang brand DNA within all of her apparel brands. Sometimes that point of view differs from other professionals involved. It’s important to know when to stand your ground and when to compromise. We listen to all sides carefully and try to make the best decisions possible that will benefit all parties involved.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role?
Doing what I love for a designer I have always admired and respected.
Where do you find inspiration?
I still get inspiration from all of the places I was taught at LCF. Mostly art, photography, architecture, interior design, fashion history, and street fashion.
What has been your proudest moment?
There have been many. Among them, the most notable is marrying my husband and getting my job with Vera.
What do you love best about living and working in New York?
New York is a global city full of talented, creative and hardworking people from all over the world. I connect with the energy and relate to these qualities.