Edgy elegance with a blend of Polynesian and mainstream designs are how Nancy Elizabeth Thompson describes her latest fashion collection from LIFT Designs.
Based in Carson, California, the Samoan Tongan designer will be joining the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show in Auckland next month. Nancy says her aim as a designer is to give wearers of her clothing the space to feel self-love and joy.
“I design for women who don’t want to be classified,” says Nancy. “A woman who wants to be sexy and modest, a damsel and the hero. A woman who can run a business and keep a home. Simple, yet complex. Women are multifaceted but simple all the same and I work to put that energy into my designs.”
Nancy’s interest in fashion began as a child watching her seamstress mother working at her sewing table. Her earliest memories involve collecting scraps of fabric to make outfits for her Barbie doll. “When I was in school I designed prom and ball dresses for my friends and me,” says Nancy. “Then I began designing pieces for my friends and sisters who competed in the local beauty pageants. I was also in a dance group growing up so I designed the costumes for our group. Since then I have been designing pieces for people for all occasions, from Sunday dresses and puletasi to full bridal party attire and wedding gowns.”
One of Nancy’s biggest commissions was for a bride from Alaska who wanted to get married in Hawai’i. It involved creating gowns for 10 bridesmaids, 9 flower girls as well as the bride’s wedding dress. “It was a lot of work, being an ocean away from my home and personal work space to service such a large bridal party with intricate, detailed gowns,” says Nancy. “It was definitely an adventure and one of my greatest growing experiences.”
Nancy has a wide range of made-to-order offerings. These include the flattering Aute wrap pants, sexy Aloha wrap crop top, stylish TAO high waist gauchos and classic Lili puletasi. She also produces traditional, ceremonial Samoan attire and avant garde evening wear.
“The unique thing about our brand, LIFT, is that it started out as a local seamstress service,” says Nancy. “Over the past few years my challenge has been to transition from a ‘sewing shop’ to a brand. Making the shift has been challenging because the bulk of our revenue comes from our sewing services. Custom made clothing has always been challenging to balance between service and product.”
“I aspire to have a mainstream platform where I can share the beauty of our culture, on a wider scale, through fashion and art. My design aspirations are broad and limitless.”